Jun. 15, 2023  

Under Fire

Let’s teach journalists about guns – by teaching them to shoot.

By Michael Koretzky

Already in 2023, more than 11,000 Americans have been killed by firearms. And we still have six months to go.

So it should be obvious that journalists need to know as much about guns as they do about municipal budgets, courtroom etiquette, and election procedures. In other words, if you’re a journalist long enough, you’ll cover a story involving gun violence.

On average, there’s a mass shooting – which the FBI defines as at least four deaths – every day in this country. About 3% of gun-related deaths involve so-called “assault weapons,” even though no one knows exactly what those are. Yet how many journalists have fired a handgun and an AR-15? (Which, by the way, doesn’t stand for “Assault Rifle” like a lot of journalists think.)

If you’re going to write about guns at least once, you should fire them at least once. That’s what Under Fire is for. Guns are such a hyper-partisan issue, we want you to be super-accurate in your reporting. We have no other agenda here. In fact, the organizers of this program have differing views on the issue (which we learned arguing over beer).

How it works

In less than two hours on a Saturday afternoon, a certified weapons instructor – hired and vetted by SPJ – will give you and a handful of other journalists a crash course on these weapons at a Fort Lauderdale gun range. Then you’ll fire them. Afterward, join us for a free drink and let’s talk about what we learned.

That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Want to join us? Sign up here…

Where it happens

Shoot Straight is one of nearly two dozen gun ranges in the tri-county area. It has nine locations throughout Florida. For reasons we’ll explain, Shoot Straight isn’t sponsoring Under Fire, and we don’t want them to. We’re paying for you to shoot there like any other customer.

Shoot Straight gun store and range

Where: 2200 South State Road 7, Fort Lauderdale [map]
When: 10 am-noon, Saturday, Oct. 7
Cost: free for first 10 journalists

Under Fire staff

Joe Pye is SPJ Florida’s treasurer and associate director at Debt.com. In his spare time, he runs BrowardBeer.com, South Florida’s only journalistic (and journalism award-winning) craft beer blog.

Steve Triana is a South Florida certified firearms instructor who teaches Basic Firearm Safety and Concealed Weapons Permit classes. In college, he worked on the student newspaper at Florida Atlantic University.

Michael Koretzky is SPJ Florida’s president and editor of Debt.com. He’s a former newspaper reporter for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Florida Times-Union, and Athens (Ga.) Daily News.

Questions? Email us.

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