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.

Here We Go AGAIN!

Via Gun Law News, meet Joaquin Jackson, NRA Board member and gun bigot, reincarnation of Bill Ruger, er, Jim Zumbo, um, clueless idiot, ah! “Only One.”


He’s apparently an ex-Texas Ranger, so that explains the “Only Ones” mentality.

I personally believe a weapon should never have over a – as far as civilian – a five round capacity. If you’re a hunter, if you’re a hunter, if you’re going to go hunting with a weapon, you shouldn’t need only but one round.

This after stating:

I feel like if we lose the Second Amendment, then somebody will take the first, then they’ll take the third, and the fourth and there will be a domino effect….

His statement was made in an interview in 2005, and apparently the YouTube video is a recent post with no date. The NRA is now attempting damage control:

Recently, concerns have been raised in response to statements made by NRA Board Member Joaquin Jackson to Texas Monthly in 2005. We have received questions from NRA members who are seeking clarity as to NRA’s positions on the subject matter discussed in Mr. Jackson’s interview. To be clear, NRA supports the right of all law-abiding citizens to Keep and Bear Arms for all lawful purposes. We will continue, as we have in the past, to vigorously oppose any efforts to limit gun ownership by law-abiding citizens as an unconstitutional infringement on our Second Amendment freedoms. These efforts include opposition to any attempts to ban firearms, including firearms incorrectly referred to as “assault weapons”, and any attempts to place arbitrary limits on magazine capacity.

Mr. Jackson also attempts to defend himself on that page:

Recently, some misunderstandings have arisen about a news interview in which I participated a few years ago. After recently watching a tape of that interview, I understand the sincere concerns of many people, including dear friends of mine. And I am pleased and eager to clear up any confusion about my long held belief in the sanctity of the Second Amendment.

In the interview, when asked about my views of “assault weapons,” I was talking about true assault weapons – fully automatic firearms. I was not speaking, in any way, about semiautomatic rifles. While the media may not understand this critical distinction, I take it very seriously. But, as a result, I understand how some people may mistakenly take my comments to mean that I support a ban on civilian ownership of semiautomatic firearms. Nothing could be further from the truth. And, unfortunately, the interview was cut short before I could fully explain my thoughts and beliefs.

In fact, I am a proud owner of such rifles, as are millions of law-abiding Americans. And many Americans also enjoy owning fully automatic firearms, after being cleared by a background check and meeting the rigorous regulations to own such firearms. And these millions of lawful gun owners have every right – and a Second Amendment right – to own them.

As a hunter, I take great pride in my marksmanship. Every hunter should practice to be skilled to take prey with a single shot, if possible. That represents ethical, humane, skilled hunting. In the interview several years ago, I spoke about this aspect of hunting and my belief that no hunter should take the field and rely upon high capacity magazines to take their prey.

But that comment should never be mistaken as support for the outright banning of any ammunition magazines. In fact, such bans have been pursued over the years by state legislatures and the United States Congress and these magazine bans have always proven to be abject failures.

Let me be very clear. As a retired Texas Ranger, during 36 years of law enforcement service, I was sworn to uphold the United States Constitution. As a longtime hunter and shooter, an NRA Board Member, and as an American – I believe the Second Amendment is a sacred right of all law-abiding Americans and, as I stated in the interview in question, I believe it is the Second Amendment that ensures all of our other rights handed down by our Founding Fathers.

I have actively opposed gun bans and ammunition and magazine bans in the past, and I will continue to actively oppose such anti-gun schemes in the future.

I appreciate my friends who have brought this misunderstanding to light, for it has provided me an opportunity to alleviate any doubts about my strong support for the NRA and our Second Amendment freedom.

And I suppose you have a “wide stance” as well.

Sorry, Ranger Jackson, that doesn’t fly with me. As a former law enforcement official you were one of “the Only Ones” – and apparently liked it that way. Fully-automatic rifles were not mentioned – hunting was. (A five-round capacity for fully automatic weapons? How stupid do you think we are?) I will not accuse you of supporting a ban – you did not. You stated your personal opinion, and the word “ban” wasn’t mentioned.

But it was implied that you wouldn’t oppose one.

I sincerely hope that since that 2005 interview you’ve changed your mind on the topic, but this shuck-and-jive routine makes me think that you have not.

Déjà Vu

I’ve been following the Imus kerfuffle for the last couple of days, and I’m reminded of another such incident just recently that strikes me as very similar. Don Imus called a group of people something that they (and a lot of other people) found very objectionable. Outrage was felt. Sponsors pulled their sponsorship. Demands for firing were made.

Sounds like Jim Zumbo, doesn’t it?

Only Imus made a racial comment, and Zumbo insulted a subset of gun owners.

But Zumbo lost his job. Imus gets two weeks off.

I’m just sayin’.

Too Bad Jim Zumbo Didn’t Wait a Couple of Weeks

This will hopefully be my last post for a while on the Zumbo incident, but it is such a striking coincidence, I have to comment.

I’m a subscriber to the bi-monthly magazine Handloader. My April, 2007 issue arrived in today’s mail. Knowing the publishing industry slightly, I’m aware that everything in this magazine was written, edited, prepped and typeset at least a month ago, if not far longer. Starting on page 62 of this issue the author, well-known gunwriter Mike Venturino, examines light .223 caliber bullets in the context of varmint hunting. What’s the gun pictured on the two-page spread? A Rock River A4 varmint rifle.

From the article:

When I quit varmint shooting about 1981, combining the words varmint and autoloader in the same sentence would have been a contradiction. Everybody then knew there was no way a “black rifle” could be accurate enough to hit tiny little ground squirrels at distances of 200 to 300 yards. With what was available then it probably would have been difficult to even mount a suitable varmint scope on a “black rifle.” I honestly don’t remember, because I didn’t pay much attention to autoloaders then – and still don’t for the most part. Maybe that will change some.

Anyway, on hand now is a Rock River A4 Varmint, which is that company’s adaptation of the basic AR type of autoloading rifle known the world over as either AR-15, or in its selective fire military version as the M-16. However, the A4 Varmint is a long way from a military-style rifle. First, instead of the distinctive carrying handle of an AR-15, it comes with a rail atop the receiver that can be fitted with Weaver-type scope mounts. The A4 Varmint can be had with barels 16, 18, 20 and 24 inches long with rifles weighing from 7.9 to 9.7 pounts at each end of the spectrum. These barrels taper from 1.05 inches under the aluminum tube handguard to .920 inch ahead of the gas block. They are stainless steel, air gauged and made by Wilson, all with one-in-8-inch twist rates, except that an option can be a one-in-12-inch twist in the 24-inch barrel only. The trigger is a standard military two-stage type, but when the actual pull begins, this one released at 3 pounds.

The A4 Varmint sent to me by Rock River came with a 20 inch barrel, atop which was soon mounted a Leupold 10x scope. The catalog states that Rock River guarantees accuracy of .75 minute of angle at 100 yards. My thought was “An autoloading .223 outshooting most bolt-action .223s? We’ll see about that.” The facts turned out to be that this A4 Varmint often will group under .75 inch for five shots at 100 yards.

The article goes on for several pages discussing different bullets, powders, and loads (it is a magazine dedicated to handloaders after all), and compares the A4 to a Savage Model 11F bolt-action, but the piece concludes:

Also gained from this project is some deep respect for the accuracy potential of a modern-day autoloading rifle. Twenty-five years back when I gave up varmint shooting, I honestly never thought they could be viable long-range varminters. They are, although I still don’t like the way they spread my empty brass hither and yon. Last year in Oregon there were often opportunities for quick repeat shots, since the ground squirrels often clustered together. This coming spring with the Rock River A4 Varmint rifle, I’ll find out if indeed a fast second shot is an asset.

Looks like Venturino was “living in a vacuum” as well. But at least he didn’t let the vacuum reside between his ears when he sat down in front of his word processor.

And too bad Jim Zumbo didn’t get a chance to read Venturino’s article before he went after coyote in Wyoming. He might have taken an AR, and saved himself a boatload of grief.

Apology Accepted, Mr. Zumbo

May I call you Jim?

The High Road has a copy of the letter Jim Zumbo sent to Alan Gottlieb of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. I’m going to reproduce it here (without permission.)

February 28, 2007

Mr. Alan Gottlieb, Chairman
Citizens Committee for the
Right to Keep and Bear Arms
12500 N.E. Tenth Place
Bellevue, WA 98005

Dear Alan:

They say that hindsight is always 20-20. In my case, hindsight has been a hard teacher, like the father teaching the son a lesson about life in the wood shed.

I was wrong when I recently suggested that wildlife agencies should ban semiautomatic firearms I erroneously called “assault rifles” for hunting. I insulted legions of my fellow gun owners in the process by calling them “terrorist rifles.” I can never apologize enough for having worn blinders when I should have been wearing bifocals.

But unlike those who would destroy the Second Amendment right to own a firearm – any firearm – I have learned from my embarrassing mistake. My error should not be used, as it has been in recent days by our common enemies, in an effort to dangerously erode our right to keep and bear arms.

I would hope instead to use this spotlight to address my hunting fraternity, many of whom shared my erroneous position. I am a hunter and like many others I had the wrong picture in mind. I associated these firearms with military action, and saw not hunting as I have known it, not the killing of a varmint, but the elimination of the entire colony. Nothing could be further from the truth, but I know from whence it comes. This ridiculous image, formed in the blink of an eye, exerts an unconscious effect on all decisions that follow. In seeking to protect our hunting rights by guarding how we are seen in the public eye, I lost sight of the larger picture; missed the forest for the trees.

My own lack of experience was no excuse for ignoring the fact that millions of Americans – people who would share a campfire or the shelter of their tent, and who have hurt nobody – own, hunt with and competitively shoot or collect the kinds of firearms I so easily dismissed.

I recently took a “crash course” on these firearms with Ted Nugent, to learn more about them and to educate myself. In the process, I learned about the very real threat that faces all American gun owners.

I’ve studied up on legislation now in Congress that would renew and dangerously expand a ban on many types of firearms. The bill, HR 1022 sponsored by New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, is written so broadly that it would outlaw numerous firearms and accessories, including a folding stock for a Ruger rifle. I understand that some of the language could ultimately take away my timeworn and cherished hunting rifles and shotguns as well as those of all American hunters.

The extremist supporters of HR 1022 don’t want to stop criminals. They want to invent new ones out of people like you and me with the simple stroke of a pen. They will do anything they can to make it impossible for more and more American citizens to legally own any firearm.

Realizing that what I wrote catered to this insidious attack on fellow gun owners has, one might say, “awakened a sleeping giant within me, and filled him with a terrible resolve.”

I made a mistake. But those who would use my remarks to further their despicable political agenda have made a bigger one. I hope to become their worst nightmare. I admit I was wrong. They insist they are right.

Enclosed, you will find a check that is intended to be used to fight and defeat HR 1022. I also hope it inspires other gun owners to “do as I do, not as I say.”

I’m putting my money where my mouth should have been, and where my heart and soul have always been. I know the Second Amendment isn’t about hunting and never has been. My blunder was in thinking that by working to protect precious hunting rights I was doing enough. I promise it will never happen again.

I don’t know what lies over the horizon for me. I am not ready for the rocking chair.

I’m going to devote every ounce of my energy to this battle. I will remind my fellow hunters that we are first, gun owners. Whether we like it or not, our former apathy and prejudices may place that which we love, hunting, in jeopardy. I will educate fellow outdoorsmen who mistakenly think like I talked, even if I have to visit every hunting camp and climb into every duck blind and deer stand in this country to get it done. I was wrong, and I’m going to make it right.

Jim Zumbo

And another post that cinched the deal for me:

I want to confess something.

I’m a gun owner. In fact, I probably own more than most. I pride myself on the quality of my firearms and my skills using them. I spend every weekend, rain or shine, at the range. Defensive pistol, shotgun games, hunting, long range rifle, gun skool…you name it and I do it.

While I’m an NRA member, I don’t do activism. I don’t write letters. I don’t contribute money. I don’t call my congressman…in fact, I don’t even know how all that stuff works.

I just want to be left alone with my hobby. I don’t worry about what bills are proposed. I don’t keep track of what’s going on. Hell, I barely vote.

I don’t tell people what to do and I don’t expect to be told what to do. I just want to shoot.

I’ve been following this Zumbo mess since the beginning. I haven’t commented on it because I felt that everything that needed saying was already said. I also didn’t want to be quick to judge. Initially, I was mad just like everyone else. I’m a fairly forgiving person though, and I thought that if anyone could help him, it would be Ted.

Reading this letter, it’s obvious that Zumbo’s eyes have been opened. I forgive the guy. While what he did was blatantly wrong, I believe he has come around. I would share a campfire with him.

I can also appreciate people that act rather than talk. My donation to CCRKBA has been sent in.


This guy has over 1,100 posts on THR, but was in no way an activist. Regardless of what the Brady Bunch et al. does with this incident, the net result will be positive for the gun-rights side, I believe.

I’m Sorry the Lesson Cost You So Much, Mr. Zumbo

(Via Uncle)

Jim Zumbo has written an epistle concerning the Second Amendment and his fateful post. I think he really does get it now. As he said,

If I ever, in my wildest dreams, thought the words I had written would bring the validity of the Second Amendment into question, I assure you I never would have touched my fingers to the keypad.

“(G)ame departments should ban them from the praries(sic) and woods”? I believe you, but dude, how tired were you?

I’m glad you understand. Now, would you please take some time and explain it – using small words – to the “many who understood and agreed with (your) original intent”? Because they obviously don’t get it.

If New Jersey can legally proclaim a 17-shot Marlin Model 60 to be an “assault firearm,” a “highly dangerous offensive weapon,” then anything can be – and hunters and benchresters and clay shooters and the rest had better all figure that out.

Historical Revisionism

(Or: Down the Memory Hole?)

I’ve been making the rounds of the internet, using Technorati and other tools to see what people on the other side are saying on about the Zumbo incident. Where comments are allowed, I’ve been putting in my 2¢. Well, I hit on a doozy. I left a comment. It started an exchange. But today that web page’s spam filter decided that I was a spammer and wouldn’t let me post. And this afternoon, my initial comment has vanished from the page!

Good thing I archived it, because I’m going to reproduce it here for posterity.

An American expat living in Korea runs a blog called The One With Aldacron. Apparently he’s a “bright” – one of the more militant versions of Athiest (big “A”), and, of course, a Lefty.

And, of course, an expert on firearms and the Constitution. His post, Moron of the Week #4 I will leave to you to read (unless, of course, he revises or pulls it, whereupon I’ll post a copy of it here), but hie thee yon and read it, then come back for the comment that mysteriously disappeared (but that he responds to in his first comment.)

Done? Good! Here’s what I said:

“It’s utterly insane to hunt prairie dogs, or any animal, with a weapon made for war.”

Do you have any idea how ignorant that statement is? Every single bolt-action rifle is based on a design specifically made for war.
The “assault rifles” used to hunt prairie dogs and other varmints are as far-removed from the military version of the M16 as a Remington 700 is from a ‘98 Mauser – though I imagine you’ll still find a lot of modified ‘98 Mausers in the deer woods each season.
I’ve been following the commentary on this story around the blogosphere and the one constant is the staggering ignorance of the people opining on a topic they know absolutely nothing about – but who still feel completely justified in inflicting that ignorance on the general population.
“Typical American Ignorance”? I suggest you look in a mirror.

Now, if you’d care to discuss the actual meaning of the Constitution, drop me a note. You might have a lot to learn that will surprise the hell out of you.

Go read the rest of the thread. I had to change my email address for the spam filter to accept my last comment. It may well be my last there. It needn’t be yours.

Edited to add: Dammit! He erased another comment that I didn’t archive. I guess I was making too much sense.