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August 6, 2013

Machine guns, cannons and drones at Arizona's Big Sandy Shoot

(Continued)

MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. —

About 20 RVs and 40 cars park in the spectator area for the Saturday night shoot. Parents bring their kids. One mom lets her son shoot a machine gun. It's because he has cancer, she explains.

Kenton Tucker has arranged for additional spectators to be helicoptered in from Las Vegas. Visitors can shoot Uzis and AK-47s and M16s at the rental booth on the firing line, but it's expensive: $4 a round to shoot a .50-caliber machine gun.

A French radio crew is covering the shoot, and the audio guy tells me, "For a European, this is something one could not imagine."

John Ulicki fits a European's stereotype of a red-state, gun-loving, proud, brash American. He's a big man, standing 6 feet 4 inches and weighing 245 pounds, a 47-year-old construction-site manager who moved from California to Utah. He says assault weapons have "gotten a needless negative connotation" from liberals and journalists. He sees a great cultural divide between liberals in the coastal areas and "the rest of the country." He would prefer if liberals seeking gun control legislation would "stay out of our culture."

Ulicki believes the gun control debate is dishonest and wrongly maligns gun owners. He doesn't like California Sen. Dianne Feinstein or New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and he doesn't appear to have much use for me or my pesky questions. Journalists can often be "evil-hearted" and do "hit pieces," he tells me before he walks off.

Half an hour or so later, he's sitting near his shooting station, joking with Ed Hope about liberal reporters. He's in a conciliatory mood, and so am I, and we give each other a hug.

Then he suggests I shoot an M16A1 fully automatic military assault rifle.

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