After traveling unbidden to Ukrainian war zones back in April, we urged Andrew Callaghan’s Channel 5 news team to take some time off, perhaps even head to a (non-Miami) beach for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. For all we know, maybe they did heed our advice and schedule a vacation or two... but this is America, and if we’re good at anything right now, it’s completely derailing your plans with needlessly violent, wanton tragedy.
As such, Callaghan’s new dispatch from the recent, ill-timed NRA Convention in Houston literally three days after Uvalde’s elementary school shooting massacre is arguably his hardest hitting episode to date.
The 18-minute clip splits its time equally between the convention’s supporters and protesters, as well as Uvalde’s heartbreaking vigils held for the 19 children and 2 teachers killed by an 18-year-old wielding a legally purchased AR-15-style rifle. It’s a difficult but necessary watch, if you have the bandwidth—but don’t worry, Callaghan also managed to find a couple perfect court jesters/MyPillow enthusiasts to break up the crushing report.
Callaghan’s crew grants viewers a look at the NRA Convention’s various gallows displays—hype men tossing free ammunition into throngs of attendees, MAGA cardboard cutout fan art, and even a poorly staged concealed carry “fashion show” that verges on parody, were these people capable of the even barest minimum of self-reflection and awareness.
Meanwhile, many are still quick to defend assault weapon ownership, arguing that it’s the last line of defense against a tyrannical government... as if even a militia’s worth of good ol’ boys wielding AR-15s could possibly take on a hypothetically tyrannical nation’s $782 billion annual defense budget.
“Shooting an RPG is the ultimate Vegas Hooker Experience. It seems like a great idea at the time. It’s really, really expensive. And it’s over way too fast,” one rocket launcher sales rep (a real job, apparently) creepily mugs for the camera at one point. If that wasn’t terrifying enough, the same man alludes to the fact that his company put at least 30 of their RPGs into “civilian hands” recently. “People are enjoying them,” he declares.
Outside the event, protestors provide all the standard, sensible reasons why American gun worship continues to be a sick, sordid obsession that is virtually unthinkable in almost every other country in the world. Meanwhile, NRA attendees are happy to shriek their own counterarguments, doubling down on the “But what about abortions, huh??” retort, as if a person’s ethical, biological right to terminate their pregnancy for reasons of their own choosing amounts to bringing a machine gun to an elementary school and desecrating the bodies of children.
The “two” in Callaghan’s “one-two punch” of an episode then takes viewers to Uvalde, where residents attempt to mourn and comprehend such unthinkable losses. “You go to sleep seeing their faces. You wake up seeing their faces,” one of the school’s lunch workers tells us. “Unless it happens to one of their own, they’re not going to do anything,” another local explains.
It’s a lot to absorb, even for a nation where flying flags at half-mast is the new normal.
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