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Riding Shotgun With Charlie

Dec 21, 2021

Riding Shotgun With Charlie


Stephen Gutowski

The Reload


Stephen Gutowski was awarded the Journalist of the Year at Gun Rights Policy Conference in 2021. He’s won this award before. I’ve been seeing him at GRPC and some other events around the country.  At GRPC in Chicago a few years ago, we were walking and talking with someone and he said he’d like to be on the show when I get to the DC/VA area.  I finally made a trip and was able to film a show with him.  We met at Mount Vernon, VA, at George Washington’s house and took a scenic drive next to the Potomac  River and headed into Old Town Alexandria. 


Stephen didn’t grow up around firearms or shooting, but he started in college.  He also started a blog writing about politics in college as well. Going out for a staff retreat, there was some informal skeet shooting. He does admit to being afraid of recoil, which is something to someone who hasn’t shot before. That’s when Stephen got the gun bug and bought a 20 gauge shotgun that wasn’t really good for anything other than having a shotgun. The good news is he still has it because it doesn’t have much value other than being his first gun. 


Since then, he’s made smarter purchases, did some AR builds, and became an instructor. All of these were beneficial when he was writing gun stories for various publications. He meant he was an informed journalist. His writing style was more first person but he learned to write better as a journalist and write hard news stories. He’s written for the National Review, The Washington Review, and The Atlantic, but wrote for The Washington Free Beacon for several years. 


Much of the writing about firearms is inaccurate due to the writers not knowing about firearms. Which is one of the motivators on why Stephen started “The Reload”, his own publication about news stories and their relation with firearms. The Reload gives sober & serious  informed reporting about firearms.  


Besides the media not knowing about firearms, sometimes the firearms community doesn’t know how the politics of things work or the process of passing things like Constitutional carry or even how bills get passed. It takes knowledge and often experience to see which bills could pass and which don’t have a chance of passing. 


Th Reload is both a website and podcast. The business model is something that many folks are doing.  They give content for free then offer more content to members who pay for a subscription and support the website or podcast.. There is a lifetime membership subscription and a yearly subscription for The Reload. 


One of the huge benefits of producing your own news outlet is that you have control over the content and stories you put out. But Stephen knows he’s still got to make and keep the subscribers subscribing, so there’s always going to be good, solid information. The Reload puts out daily content, with the free weekly newsletter coming out on Fridays and the exclusive email to subscribers on Sunday.


As awarded the Journalist of the Year by the Second Amendment Foundation, Stephen is on top of what is happening in firearms and politics. At the very least, after you listen to RSWC, check out some episodes of The Reload and consider supporting Stephen with a subscription. 

Favorite quotes:

“I learned over the years… how to be a better journalist, like better at hard news writing.”

“You never stop learning. You never stop improving your writing if you’re serious about it as a profession.”

“My main goal with writing is trying to inform people, tell them what is going on in the world, try to give them a better understanding of reality.”

“I don’t want to mislead people into thinking that some bill is a threat when it’s not.”

“I think it’s fun to talk to the members and see how they are, why the subscribed, and what makes them tick”

“I want to foster community that engages with the content and each other but does so in a respectful way”


Time stamp

00:00 Intro

01:33 Stephen

02:33 Mount Vernon tour guide

09:13 Gun stuff

12:10 First shotgun

15:28 Writing gigs

16:57 The Reload

20:10 The political side

24:15 The Reload Podcast

25:52 Business model

32:12 Subscriber’s story

33:34 Comments on social media

36:11 Wrap up

Stephen Gutowski Twitter


Stephen Gutowski Instagram


The Reload Website


The Reload Podcast

Second Amendment Foundation


Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms



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Dennis McCurdy

Author, Speaker, Firewalker


Self Defense Radio Network