The Wedge Goes In Deeper

Without further ado, Field & Stream‘s David “The Gun Nut” E. Petzal’s take on the Jim Zumbo fiasco:

In case you just emerged from a coma and have not heard, the shooting world is agog over a blog posted by Jim Zumbo, former contributing editor at Outdoor Life, over the weekend of February 17. In it, Jim stated that any semiauto rifle with an AR or AK prefix was a terrorist rifle, had no place in hunting, and should be outlawed for that purpose. Then, courtesy of the Internet and all its blogs and chatrooms, the roof fell in.

The speed with which Zumbomania spread, the number of comments it drew, and the rabid nature of same were a revelation. Overnight, this thing became as big as Janet Jackson’s clothing failure or – dare I say it? – Britney Spears’ shaved head. Jim Zumbo is now as employable as the Unabomber, and Sarah Brady will no doubt adopt his comments to her own gun-control purposes.

For which you will now make excuses. That speed frightened you, didn’t it?

For the last several days I’ve been visiting all manner of blogs and chatrooms, which has reminded me of when I used to deliver used clothing to the local mental hospital. I’ve tried to make some sense of it all, but because the waters are still full of blood and body parts continue to rain from the sky, I haven’t come up with any Great Truths. Lacking that, here are some Lesser Truths.

What Jim said was ill-considered. He’s entitled to his beliefs, but when a writer of his stature comes out against black guns, it sure as hell does not help our cause.

Understatement #1. What he said was not only ill-considered, it was (to many of us) inexcusable. Which is what you’re railing against here.

Even so, Jim made an immediate apology. He did not equivocate, or qualify, or make excuses. He acted like a gentleman and said he was wrong, and he was sorry. Apparently this is not enough anymore. We now live in the era of one strike and you’re out.

Uh, no. As both I and Tom Gresham have noted (among myriad others lost in the cacophony of outrage), Jim’s initial apology missed the point. And so have you.

To quote myself:

How about this, Jim? How about we educate the public (and other Elmer Fudds like you) about semi-automatic rifles? And how about you break your damned fingers for ever typing the word “BAN” in relationship to firearms you goddamned gun-bigot?

And Gresham:

Jim basically committed career suicide. In short, he wrote in his blog on the Outdoor Life web site that he had just learned (while on a hunt) that some people use AR-15 rifles for hunting. He offered his thought that this was a bad image for hunters. Okay, that’s his opinion. But, he went even further, calling for game departments to ban the use of these rifles for hunting. After crossing the line and calling for a banning of those guns for hunting, he firmly planted his foot on a land mine and called AR-15s “terrorist rifles.” The explosion from that misstep was heard throughout the firearms industry.

His apology didn’t address the points. He said “I’m sorry!” and “I’m a patriot!” but every apology so far has been of the order of “I didn’t know so many people hunted with them!” As I said in my last piece:

The opinion I am left with is one that many, many people on many boards and in many comments have left – Zumbo just doesn’t get it.

Gresham got it. Why haven’t you?

For 40 years, Jim has been a spokesman and ambassador of good will for hunting. Through his tireless efforts as a teacher and lecturer on hunting and hunting skills, he has done more for the sport than any 250 of the yahoos who called for his blood.

Ever hear the expression “One ‘Oh Shit!’ cancels all ‘Atta boy’s!'”? That was a huge “Oh Shit!” And while I’m as interested in the preservation of the sport of hunting as the next guy, it seems that preservation of the right to keep and bear arms is a prerequisite, no? Unless you plan on hunting exclusively with a bow. Or a sharp, pointy stick.

Jim has paid dearly for what he said. He has lost his blog and his association with Remington. Cabela’s has suspended its sponsorship of his TV show; and Outdoor Life has accepted his offer to sever ties. To all the chatroom heroes who made him unemployable, I have a word of warning: You’ve been swinging a two-edged sword. A United States in which someone can be ruined for voicing an unpopular opinion is a dangerous place. Today it was Jim’s turn. Tomorrow it may be yours.

BZZZZT! I’m sorry, Dave, but that’s the wrong answer! Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from its consequences. I could say something stupid tomorrow that might lose me my job. Therefore it’s encumbent on me to control what I say. That’s what’s called a “market force,” and it’s not “censorship.” Censorship is when the GOVERNMENT tells you what you can and can’t say – at the point of a gun.

How long have you been a journalist again?

If Sarah Brady is smart – and she is very smart – she will comb through the same blogs and chatrooms I’ve been reading, excerpt some of the most vicious and foul-mouthed entries, print them up, and distribute them to Congress.

Wait, wait… Jim Zumbo should be allowed to say anything he wants without fear of consequence, but we hoi polloi, the non-gunwriters, the un-anointed, are required to shut up and take it because the consequences of our speech could be grave? Sorry, but the words of the “former contributing editor at Outdoor Life” – one of the “most well-respected outdoor writers” will carry far more weight with Congress than the rantings of we little people – and you know that. They already think we should be disarmed. Zumbo just told them that they’re right. Frankly, I hope Ms. Brady does what you suggest. Congresscritters understand that we vote, and they know what one issue we vote on.

Then it will be interesting to see how the men and women who wrote that stuff enjoy seeing their efforts being put to use by every anti-gunner in America.

Sorry, David, but that falls totally flat.

Yes, a lot of people went overboard, but as I’ve commented several times, it’s the end result of what Dr. Michael S. Brown once referred to as a “decades-long slow-motion hate crime” – the hatred of guns and gun owners by those outside our culture. It’s wearing, and I’m not surprised that the patience of so many is wearing so obviously thin. Having someone inside that culture stab us in the back resulted in this outpouring of vitriol and invective. But try re-reading some of those forums and blogs. A lot of us had a lot to say about it that you obviously missed.

“ChrisH” wrote in a comment to Petzal’s post:

First, Jim wrote what I’m sure a lot of folks think.

I’m sure they do. That’s what’s got to change. If the different factions of the shooting world don’t figure that out, and soon, we might very well go the way of the British.

UPDATE, 2/23: David Codrea (and a lot of the commenters on Petzal’s post) notes that David Petzal was a supporter of “advocat(ed) compromise” on the 1994 Clinton AWB:

Gun owners — all gun owners — pay a heavy price for having to defend the availability of these weapons,” writes Petzal. “The American public — and the gun-owning public; especially the gun-owning public — would be better off without the hardcore military arms, which puts the average sportsman in a real dilemma” Petzal concludes by advocating compromise, something that Knox and other members of his regime say they will never accept.

This was when Field & Stream quite publicly separated itself from the National Rifle Association.

I can’t say this any better than Tam did a couple of days ago when this whole thing first blew up:

Your attempt to throw me out of the sleigh, hoping that the wolves would be satisfied with my AR and would leave your precious bambi-zapper alone, is the most craven act of contemptible cowardice I’ve seen in a while.

That goes double for you, Mr. Petzal. “Gun Nut,” my ass. RTWT (both pieces) if you haven’t already.

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