Exclusive–Joe Mantegna: 'Guns Part of Our Culture, Our Entire Existence'
Joe Mantegna is one of the busiest folks in Hollywood: he is the star of the hit TV show "Criminal Minds" and he is also host of Midway USA's Gun Stories on the Outdoor Channel. Mantegna was at the SHOT Show to talk about Gun Stories and I was lucky enough to sit down and talk with him about his show.
The show takes viewers through a firearm’s history, from the heart of the design through its use on the range. Gun Stories looks at the operation and performance of each weapon, from classics like the Mauser bolt-action, to cutting-edge firearms like the Adaptive Combat Rifle. Throughout the series, historians, shooters, trainers and industry experts place these weapons in their historical and social context, making Gun Stories a unique and definitive collection on the history of firearms.
Mantegna is a firearm enthusiast who came to the sport as a young adult. He told me a story about watching people shoot skeet at a trap and skeet club once located on Lake Michigan in Chicago. Once he picked up a shotgun to shoot a few rounds of skeet, he was hooked. But Mantegna was quick to point out, "I was introduced in the right way, by professionals, the safety aspects before anything else, that’s the way I am trying to pass it on to others. Don’t be afraid of the word gun, explore it, learn about it."
I wanted to find out if he has gotten any flak from the Hollywood crew about his show or about his second amendment support and Mantegna was assertive:
There is always going to be those who... its one of those sensitive topics, the word "gun," just say the word "gun" and people get nervous. But I have nothing to apologize for, I have nothing to defend, I embrace the shooting sports in the best possible way, showing that it’s a sport. No one gets upset when watching someone shoot in the Olympic games, someone like Kim Rhode who won medals for the United States, no one gets upset over cowboy movies. It's part of our culture our entire existence, without firearms we wouldn't have won the Revolutionary War, we wouldn't even have this country, or a lot of other countries wouldn't exist. You have to separate the fear people have that is unjustified, based on a word or news article, people have misused firearms throughout history, this is one instance that turns people off.
I was curious if anyone had pulled him aside and asked him to teach them about guns, especially in the Hollywood crowd. He reported that it "happened all the time."
"I find it amusing sometimes, the people with the most negative feelings [about guns] and then something happens, a negative situation or crisis and all the sudden, say if someone rattles their doorknob at night, I get a call the next day saying 'you gotta get me a gun.' " Mantegna says.
But safety first for the actor, he tells them "you can’t go from nothing to everything, if your serious, I’ll introduce you to the right people to teach you the safe, sane way to learn about this. Learn the right way to do it. "
You can watch videos and check out photos from Midway USA's Gun Stories over at the Outdoor Channel's website.