The Times of London might once have been called the Thunderer and brought down governments – but now it is engaged in a war of words with a 27-year-old YouTuber called Callum.
In an article in March 2019 under the headline ‘Shooting group faces losing charitable status’, The Times chief reporter Sean O’Neill demonises the sport of practical shooting. The article includes the factual error that it is possible to buy guns online in the UK. The newspaper uses screenshots from a YouTube video to illustrate the article.
That YouTube channel is EnglishShooting, run by Callum Long-Collins, who is also a founding shareholder of Gunroom.TV. EnglishShooting reviews legal firearms, promotes shootings sports including practical shooting and discusses British gun control issues.
The ‘charitable status’ article is the first in a month-long run of articles by Sean in The Times. They attempt to monster Callum and they call for a ban on what Sean calls ‘powerful’ guns. The articles ignore or downplay the safety record of UK shooting sports, the medals won by GB shooters at Olympic and Commonwealth Games, and the law-abiding nature of the UK’s 600,000 gun licence holders.
In the articles, Sean points to a video, since deleted, that Callum posted after the terrorist murders at the Bataclan in November 2015, entitled ‘Paris Attacks: Time for Self Defence’. Sean also brings up a BBC interview in 2016 where Callum agrees that using guns for self-defence is illegal in Britain but adds: “Being British and a firearms owner, it almost feels illegal to have any sort of opinion on using guns for self-defence.”
After the first article came out, Sean rang Callum for an interview. Worried that Sean would quote him out of context, Callum invited Sean to the offices of Gunroom.tv. Sean agreed – and Callum surprised Sean by filming the interview, parts of it reproduced here:
In the interview, Callum questions Sean over his campaign against shooting. Despite the error over online gun sales, Sean maintains that his articles are factually correct.
Callum shows him two .22 rifles, one pink and one black and knobbly. Sean says the black rifle should be banned for being ‘sinister-looking’.
In an article that follows the interview, The Times reporter continues his campaign to demonise Section 1 shotguns and moves on to mini rifle.
Spectators of the Callum’n’Sean centre-court match are looking forward to the next set: perhaps the whole interview with Sean, including the part where he considers making a run for the exit? The ball is now in Callum’s court.
Media tennis: Sean vs Callum
- 25 March 2019 Callum restarts EnglishShooting YouTube channel after a nine-month break
- 25 March 2019 Sean says shooting group faces losing charitable status
- 3 April 2019 Callum says he does not have an FAC or SGC
- 3 April 2019 Sean wins news reporter of the year 2018
- 8 April 2019 Sean’s headline is: Gun licence ‘subsidy costs taxpayers £10m’
- 9 April 2019 Callum summarises his interview with Sean
- 15 April 2019 In a pre-emptive strike, Callum puts out more of his interview with Sean
- 16 April 2019 Sean says there is a gun loophole in the law and politicians are ignoring it
- 23 April 2019 Referring to Callum’s 3 April video, Sean says Callum lost his gun licences because of police concerns over extremist content on his YouTube channel
- 23 April 2019 Callum says on Facebook that Sean’s article is ‘very fair and accurate… It is a shame that he’s unable to do this with other shooting articles.’