MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. —
This is a gun that resembles the guns in video games. The fully automatic version is banned to civilians unless it was legally purchased before the 1986 Firearms Owners' Protection Act took effect. But there is a similar semi-automatic version that is perfectly legal, the AR-15.
The AR-15 was one of the guns allegedly used by James Holmes to mow down people in a Colorado movie theater.
A group of old white guys gathers behind me as Ulicki loads shiny gold rounds into the M16 magazine. I hand my reporter's notebook to a man behind me and touch the killing machine. It's black and very warm in the sun. It's got an adjustable stock, which Dianne Feinstein has been trying to ban for years.
My message to Dianne Feinstein: Adjustable stocks don't always work.
Adjustable stocks are supposed to make the gun easier to shoot and more comfortable, but in my case adjusting the stock doesn't help at all. The M16 is a powerful military killing machine, and it takes militarylike discipline to learn to shoot it properly. I do not know how to stand, or how to lean forward and cradle the gun when I shoot.
The first time I shoot at the target, Ulicki stands behind me to make sure I don't freak out. The second time, he puts the gun on full auto and steps back. I sight it, awkwardly, and brace myself as best I can, and shoot. I fire a bunch of rounds and hit the target at some point. I'm happy to return it to its owner, a guy who works for a wildlife agency in the South.
When I retrieve my notebook, I see the man who held it for me drew a smiley face and wrote, "Good Job!"