Another Debate Invitation

Seems like a good way to start the year off.

Breda‘s husband Mike wrote a rather scathing piece in response to an op-ed in the Detroit News blogs (so I didn’t have to). From that same source, one Libby Spencer wrote to defend the author of the piece against the verbal abuse strongly-worded missives hurled at him by us, the “vicious mindless mob” of gun owners who responded. (h/t to The Pistolero for the pointer.) So I dropped a comment of my own there. We’ll see if this goes anywhere.

Ms. Spencer, you make a good point about the (relatively small) percentage of gun owners who are abusive when responding to people such as yourself. I have said, on numerous occasions, that we are often our own worst enemy when it comes to public perception.

But I’d like to make some comments about this subject. Gun owners are, as Dr. Michael S. Brown once stated, the victims of a decades-long slow-motion hate crime. It is we who are routinely blamed for the deaths of others because the weapon used was a firearm. It is we who are demonized for being members of a culture that was once admired in this country. A lot of us are tired of it. A few of us are more than tired.

You characterized what I like to refer to as “The Great Zumbo Incident of 2007” as the act of a “mindless vicious mob.” So sorry, but no, it wasn’t. That was the impression the media sold – about a week and a half after the fact – but I was there from about the Saturday after Jim Zumbo (in the words of one blogger) “apparently tired of his 42-year career put his word processor in his mouth and pulled the trigger.” That same blogger also said this (and no, it wasn’t me): “Ten years ago, had his statement survived the editorial process and made it into print, we would have seen a handful of cherry-picked letters on the ‘Letters to the Editor’ page of Outdoor life, and things would have pretty much proceeded along at status quo ante. Not now. Not today.” Zumbo called the AR-15 rifle – one of THE most popular target and hunting platforms in existence – a “terrorist rifle” and advocated that they be banned from hunting.

He did so out of ignorance. The literally MILLIONS of us who own them were, understandably, angry. And we spoke up. Some, of course, excessively. Most, however, were not. And Zumbo’s sponsors (one of which was Remington, a company about to begin selling hunting versions of the AR-15) dropped him like a hot rock.

Welcome to the Internet age, where feedback is now instantaneous. Now when people such as yourself spout idiocy out of A) ignorance, or B) malice [or C) all of the above), there’s feedback.

I’m a fan of “reasoned discourse” myself, but I understand the anger and frustration of other gun owners who see what gets published as “fact” in today’s media and who KNOW that it is at best misconception, or at worst deliberate lies.

We’re tired of it. I’m tired of it. It’s why I became an advocate.

Here’s an offer: I invite you to debate the topic of “assault weapons.” The choice of forum is yours, but anything I write I will publish – in full – at my blog. I promise to be civil, to cite fact, and to provide references for you to verify. I don’t expect to change your mind, but I do think you’ll be surprised by what you learn.

If you don’t have access to my email address from this comment, do a Google search on “The Smallest Minority.” That’s my blog, and my contact information is on the left sidebar.

I’d make the same offer to Rev. Smith, but I doubt he’d accept. Besides, he wants to ban everything. You just don’t like “assault weapons.”

Think they’ll publish it?

UPDATE: That was quick. Now the question is, will she respond?

UPDATE II: Well, it’s a response:

Thu. 01/1/09 03:32 PM
Hey Kbaker. I believe we had that conversation on my personal blog back when the Zumbo thing went down. As I recall you were one of the few who were at all civil about it at that time. I still think that was completely unfair to him for the reasons I gave at the time.

I’m not at all equipped to debate the subject. I’m clueless on guns. All I can do is tell you how it’s playing among my fellow clueless citizens. Again, I’m on your side. The last thing I want to see is our citizens disarmed.

My reply:

Ms. Spencer, you state “I’m not at all equipped to debate the subject. I’m clueless on guns. All I can do is tell you how it’s playing among my fellow clueless citizens. Again, I’m on your side. The last thing I want to see is our citizens disarmed.”

The problem is, as most of us see it, is that those of us who ARE “equipped to debate the subject” are ignored. The level of vitriol you object to is one result of that. It seems, on many levels, that such language is the only thing that gets anyone’s attention any more.

Unfortunately, it’s gotten even worse, as many of us in the gunblogosphere have been discussing in recent months.

If you’d care to discuss THAT, I’m game. Because if people like you – people who don’t want to see the citizenry disarmed, but are unable to defend their position logically, factually, and (yes) aggressively – don’t do something to stand up to those who DO want to see us disarmed, then by all appearances harsh language may become the least of (y)our worries.

We’ll see where that leads . . .

Oh, and the post she referenced was, I think, this one: Boys and their toys – gun owners gone wild. Libby came into the subject only after the WaPo wrote an article on it. I’d forgotten, but I’ve debated Libby before on the Zumbo topic. Go here and read the comment thread, if you’re interested.

Nothing much has changed.

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