I Love Being Right

As I noted in the first line of That Didn’t Take Long,

I’m unfamiliar with the MySpace page ostensibly run for or by the Brady Campaign, but they glommed on to Jim Zumbo’s article almost as rapidly as the gun community did.

I also noted in comments here and other places, that the author of that site seemed a little too stereotypical. In fact, at a post at Snowflakes in Hell I commented:

I’m not convinced that that MySpace page really is affiliated with the Brady Campaign. I can’t help but wonder if it’s run by someone trying to make the Brady Campaign look worse than it already does.

Later in that same post a Brady representative commented:

I can confirm that these statements were made by an impostor. I’m a spokesman for the Brady Campaign, and I know that none of us were involved in those postings. That’s not our statement, and it’s not our position.
Sebastian, you should have access to the email address I logged with WordPress, so you can verify that I am who I claim to be.

So the question remains: Is the MySpace poster serious, or is he just trying to make the Brady Bunch look bad?
The sad part is, it’s impossible to tell, really. Good job, Sebastian!

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.

The Sport of Kings

Here’s the transcript of the portion of Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk radio show from Sunday where he interviews Jim Zumbo (available at iTunes)

Tom Gresham: Let’s bring in my good friend, long-time friend Jim Zumbo has joined us here. Just got back from a hunt and walked into a hornet’s nest. Hey Jim, howya doing?

Jim Zumbo: Boy, a hornet’s nest is an understatement, Tom. (Chuckles)

Gresham: Man alive, I’ve kind of explained before you got here what’s going on, and you wrote this piece – I guess it was just part of your blog, right?

Zumbo: Yeah, it was. In fact I just answered it if anyone wants to know exactly what I said, I just posted a new blog, and it’s a total apology, and kind of explains my position where basically activating my mouth before engaging my brain. (Chuckles)

Gresham: Aw, man. I tell ya. One of the things that’s interesting about this – let me back up. Essentially the post on the Outdoor Life blog, it says, you know, you were talking about AR15’s and I know a lot of people use AR15’s for varmint hunting and all, and you made a couple of comments about “well I just don’t think those are appropriate for hunting” and hey, look, I get it. I’m a guy who really likes nice looking guns.

Zumbo: Um-hm.

Gresham: But there are, and I have said this openly, there got some folks on our side of the fence who would be doing us a favor if they went to the other side, sometimes.

Zumbo: Um-hm.

Gresham: Because they react – now I don’t know if you have seen it, but there are actually people posting your home address.

Zumbo: That’s what I’ve heard.

Gresham: Yeah, it’s getting real ugly…

Zumbo: Yep.

Gresham: …out there, and I don’t know if this comes from a sense that they feeel as though they’ve been betrayed, and in fact on one of the blogs I’ve been saying “Well how about we just listen to the guy and find out…,” “NO, NO NO! Not going to do that.” I said well “What, do we have a ‘one strike and you’re out’ with a death penalty?” And they’re going “Yep. That’s it. Make one mistake and you’re gone.” You guys are harsh! So what did you say in your apology?

Zumbo: Oh, golly. Basically I said that I was completely ignorant of the widespread interest in AR15’s and similar firearms. You know, honestly Tom I’ve been hunting for, oh golly, fifty-some years and I find that every state for deer and only once have I seen anyone use an AR15 on a deer hunt. And I was just hunting coyotes in Southeast Wyoming the last four days and one of the guides told me that there’s a huge interest among prairie dog hunters using those types of guns and I didn’t believe him. And you know I must be living in a vacuum. I really didn’t. And I’m wrong. I can see now where there are a lot of folks, and good folks – I’ve already talked to some people today, one guy who’s a SWAT team officer and was in the military and, uh, told me I was wrong, and I agreed with him and we had a nice conversation so hopefully he’ll take my apology as well as everyone else. But one thing that bothers me is some things being said about me being unpatriotic. And, as I said in my blog, I fly the flag every day of the year in front of my house.

Gresham: Yeah, I’ve been to your house. I know there’s a flag there.

Zumbo: (Chuckles) And last year we had an essay contest for members of our military who were in harms way, and five hundred contestants, we chose one, a fellow who was, uh, hurt badly on Christmas day in 2004 two of his buddies were killed, I took him on a free hunt to Botswana. And this year we’re taking two more members of the military on a free hunt to uh, for elk and moose, so my gosh, I absolutely support everything our military does.

Gresham: I know that.

Zumbo: And our current government. So I hate to see me placed in some kind of a…

Gresham: Well a lot of these comments are waaay over the top and off-the-wall, I mean and all you’ve got to do is look at some of these internet deals. The other thing is you always, you gotta have to remember that the internet is not necessarily the real world?

[Commercial break]

Gresham: Talking with my good friend Jim Zumbo. He’s the hunting editor of Outdoor Life, and has his own TV show on the Outdoor Channel, and he and I have hunted together various places over the years. And, uh, you’re occasionally, it’s a bad deal when you watch a friend have a train wreck or a car wreck, and I just watched Jim step in it big-time. Is that fair, Jim?

Zumbo: (Chuckles) Totally fair. Absolutely.

Gresham: OK

Zumbo: Never seen anything like it.

Gresham: Basically posted, you just wrote something on your blog, on the Outdoor Life blog, and it just caused a firestorm like I’ve never seen before, and essentially it was…

Zumbo: What a legacy to put on my tombstone, huh?

Gresham: Oh my gosh! Well, I’ve got to tell you, the thing that has probably has ticked people off the most, is when you said an AR15 is a “terrorist’s rifle.”

Zumbo: I know. I absolutely understand that, and, uh…

Gresham: ‘Cause I can tell you, I own three of them, and I love them! So, what’s going on?

Zumbo: Well, Tom, again, I’ve seen one in use in my life and, you know, people are amazed that I’m not really fascinated with guns, I’m a, I’m a hunting writer.

Gresham: Right.

Zumbo: And if I wasn’t in this business I’d probably own five guns, and I really don’t keep up with what’s going on. Last year for the first time I was fishing in Alaska. We went out in a boat, we were fishing for halibut, and someone had an AR15 and I shot at some kelp and it was a lot of fun, but I, at that point in time, again this is my opinion, I just didn’t think it was suitable for the deer woods and man, am I wrong!

Gresham: (Chuckles) Look, we’re going to start a deal about you being a kelp-killer, too. Look, I understand what you’re saying, because…

Zumbo: Let me say one thing…

Gresham: Go ahead.

Zumbo: Tom, a blog is – I’m sure you know what a blog is. When I started writing this my boss said “This is your opinion. It’s not Outdoor Life’s opinion, it’s nobody’s opinion – none of your sponsors – say what you want to say. Wake up in the morning and blog and say whatever the heck it is, and that’s what I did, and unfortunately I didn’t think this through. I had been hunting coyotes in Wyoming, the wind blew sixty miles an hour all day, I came back into camp tired and exhausted and I should have gone to bed. But I got into this discussion with a guide who told me about many hunters who were using AR15’s and similar weapons for prairie dogs, and I thought, you know, “there’s a controversial blog” and I thought I’d get maybe ten or fifteen comments and the last time I looked I’ve had 2800. But, uh, again, I totally apologize. I didn’t realize how many folks use ’em, and – you’re going to love this – I just talked to Ted Nugent, and Ted said “Zumbo, you know you and I go back a long ways but you screwed up. So now Ted and I are planning on a deer hunt. We’re using AR15’s. How’s that?

Gresham: Outstanding! Good for you guys.

Zumbo: Now that’s a true story! I’m not making that up!

Gresham: No, I know. You know, look. I came to this slowly. See, I came to guns kind of the same way that you did. I’m basically a hunter, and like to shoot and all. And every body knows, I’ve said many times on this show here, that I’ve never had a huge interest in military guns and don’t really know a lot about them, but I kinda got into the ARs slowly. Actually, I bought one – I’d never shot one – I bought one when they were going to have the Clinton gun ban, the Assault Weapon Ban of ’94? I said “You know, if they’re going to ban ’em, I’m going to buy one.” And that’s what got me into it. Well, after I got into it and started shooting it, I thought “This thing’s fun.” It’s kinda like – the whole time I’ve been wondering what’s everybody jazzed up about these things, then you go out and shoot one and you go “Oh, I get it. These things are a lot of fun.” Then I started finding out all the things you can do with it, and it’s a real… But, and I’ve said this a lot, I’m not saying this just now – people have heard me say it – they’re ugly. You know, AKs are ugly. ARs are ugly. Uh, they don’t appeal to my sense of what’s a pretty gun. I like nice walnut and pretty wood and all that, but I like to shoot ’em. So all that’s my way of saying I understand where you were coming from because that’s where I was before I started getting into all this.

Zumbo: Well, see, I’m probably at that, that, that level where you were when you started. Heck, who knows? I might get into those and just enjoy the heck out of them.

Gresham: OK, I’m going to give you the, uh, the last word here, and your – ’cause I’ve got a lot of people listening right now because they just found out that you’re here and they’ve all tuned in and they want to hear what Jim Zumbo who said that “I’ve got a terrorist gun” – they want to hear what you’ve got to say, so you talk directly to ’em.

Zumbo: OK. Like I said, I wrote that blog when I shouldn’t have. I was tired from a long day of hunting, and I did not think it through. And I, uh, have never shot one of those guns except once last year, and I’ve only seen one in fifty-three years of hunting in the field, and I just honestly had a perception that they weren’t really want to be perceived as, as hunters carrying around in the woods and I’m wrong. Now I realize how many folks use them, and I intend to use one myself and try it out, and uh, You know, we all make mistakes, and I just hope the folks who were offended will give me the, the opportunity to say “Hey, I’m sorry” and do all the damage control I can. Once caller said “Hey, man, you have now offered ammo to all the wrong people” and he’s probably in a sense right, and I really apologize for that.

Gresham: Well, you know, and look. I was saying earlier, you and I have probably been through at least two big battles that – where you and I were standing shoulder-to-shoulder fighting for gun rights, defending, in one case – we walked away from a, essentially from a family of people that we’d known for thirty years.

Zumbo: Exactly right. You and I both stood up for the NRA in a scenario that…

Gresham: We divorced ourselves from a couple thousand good friends because of that.

Zumbo: Yup. After thirty-five years of professionally acquainted with that organization you and I walked because it was offensive to gun writers and shooters, and I wanted to say, too, that what I said was completely my opinion. You know none of the companies that I deal with had any knowledge of what I wrote. I wrote it spontaneously. It was late at night and I shouldn’t have. So, you know I hope that they don’t bear the brunt of what I said. If they do, again I apologize, and that was never the intent for, for what I had, uh, for what I had blogged about.

Gresham: Alright.

Zumbo: I just shoulda not stuck my foot in my mouth, Tom.

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. As he said to Gresham, “I’m a hunting writer”. That is, “I’m not a gun guy.” That’s pretty obvious. It’s also obvious that Gresham is trying to cover for his good friend.

I’m reminded again of St. George Tucker’s Blackstone’s Commentaries explanation of the Second Amendment and how our law differed from England’s:

The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government.

Whoever examines the forest, and game laws in the British code, will readily perceive that the right of keeping arms is effectually taken away from the people of England. The commentator himself informs us, “that the prevention of popular insurrections and resistence [sic] to government by disarming the bulk of the people, is a reason oftener meant than avowed by the makers of the forest and game laws.”

[A separate discussion in an Appendix, specifically about the Second Amendment.]

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep, and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty…. The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms, is under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.

In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorise the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.

(Via Eugene Volokh.)

Jim Zumbo is hardly the first person to look at gun ownership through a personal prism, or allowed himself to be the tool of others, but he is the highest-profile person to have done so publicly in my memory. This is the wedge that the Brady Bunch, et al. have tried to use for decades to divide the gun-rights community – the “I’m alright, bub, but I’m not so sure about YOU” attitude, the “You don’t need that kind of gun to hunt deer” accusation. This wedge is best exemplified by the Violence Policy Center’s unabashed use of the public’s fear of “evil black rifles” in their 1988 strategic paper:

Assault weapons are increasingly being perceived by legislators, police organizations, handgun restriction advocates, and the press as a public health threat. As these weapons come to be associated with drug traffickers, paramilitary extremists, and survivalists, their television and movie glamour is losing its lustre to a violent reality.

Because of this fact, assault weapons are quickly becoming the leading topic of America’s gun control debate and will most likely remain the leading gun control issue for the near future. Such a shift will not only damage America’s gun lobby, but strengthen the handgun restriction lobby for the following reasons:

* It will be a new topic in what has become to the press and public an “old” debate.

Although handguns claim more than 20,000 lives a year, the issue of handgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. The reasons for this vary: the power of the gun lobby; the tendency of both sides of the issue to resort to sloganeering and pre-packaged arguments when discussing the issue; the fact that until an individual is affected by handgun violence he or she is unlikely to work for handgun restrictions; the view that handgun violence is an “unsolvable” problem; the inability of the handgun restriction movement to organize itself into an effective electoral threat; and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons—just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms—are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons.

* Efforts to stop restrictions on assault weapons will only further alienate the police from the gun lobby.

Until recently, police organizations viewed the gun lobby in general, and the NRA in particular, as a reliable friend. This stemmed in part from the role the NRA played in training officers and its reputation regarding gun safety and hunter training. Yet, throughout the 1980s, the NRA has found itself increasingly on the opposite side of police on the gun control issue. Its opposition to legislation banning armor-piercing ammunition, plastic handguns, and machine guns, and its drafting of and support for the McClure/Volkmer handgun decontrol bill, burned many of the bridges the NRA had built throughout the past hundred years. As the result of this, the Law Enforcement Steering Committee was formed. The Committee now favors such restriction measures as waiting periods with background check for handgun purchase and a ban on machine guns and plastic firearms. If police continue to call for assault weapons restrictions, and the NRA continues to fight such measures, the result can only be a further tarnishing of the NRA’s image in the eyes of the public, the police, and NRA members. The organization will no longer be viewed as the defender of the sportsman, but as the defender of the drug dealer.

Or the “terrorist.”

* Efforts to restrict assault weapons are more likely to succeed than those to restrict handguns.

Although the majority of Americans favor stricter handgun controls, and a consistent 40 percent of Americans favor banning the private sale and possession of handguns, many Americans do believe that handguns are effective weapons for home self-defense and the majority of Americans mistakenly believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms. Yet, many who support the individual’s right to own a handgun have second thoughts when the issue comes down to assault weapons. Assault weapons are often viewed the same way as machine guns and “plastic” firearms—a weapon that poses such a grave risk that it’s worth compromising a perceived constitutional right.

(Bold emphasis mine. Italics in original.) Zumbo just provided them with a tremendous whack on the back of that wedge. I think the overall outrage directed at Zumbo is in large part due to our shock that someone who was perceived to be a “gun guy” would think something as divisive as he obviously did, much less put it in print – a reaction best illustrated by the winner of the AR15.com photoshop contest:

(Credit to new AR15.com contributor mrbear! His first post!)

But he says it himself, he’s not a “gun guy” – he’s a hunter, and “evil black rifles” have (had) no place in his pantheon. They’re “terrorist rifles” to him, because he’s only seen one person hunt with them. (And he didn’t approve, I imagine.) I can’t find the link right now, but on some gun or hunting board Michael Bane reported that Zumbo once asked him how many firearms he owned. Bane’s response was “a lot.” Zumbo replied that he’d taken game on every continent with only seven rifles. As far too many have pointed out, it’s the same as the guy with six $40k Perrazi shotguns who thinks that handguns aren’t necessary, and concealed-weapons laws are dangerous. Zumbo is in a class of people who see hunting as the only legitimate use for firearms, and any firearms not suitable for hunting are unnecessary.

We call them Fudds, for Elmer Fudd, the clueless rabbit (or duck) hunter. What’s good enough for them is good enough, period. Nobody “needs” anything other than what they, themselves, possess. They’re blinkered. They’re so tied up in their own sport, they give no consideration to others, and they don’t even think about the right that allows them to practice their sport. See this rather pointed piece of art, also from AR15.com:

By Steve_T_M

And Zumbo’s not alone. According to a post at AR15.com, gunwriter David M. Fortier reports that outdoor writers Bill McRae and Thomas McIntyre agree with Jim’s original statement. To quote an email from McRae to Fortier:

I agree wholeheartedly with Jim on this and I don’t give a damn who does or does not like it. Furthermore, I applaud Jim for having had the courage to say what he said.

The accusation of McIntyre was second-hand, but one wonders if Mr. McRae or Mr. McIntyre will have the courage to support Mr. Zumbo’s original post publicly themselves now, given the fallout. At the time of this writing, many of Zumbo’s sponsors have publicly bailed on him: Remington, Mossy Oak, High Mountain Jerky and Spices, and DPMS Panther Arms. Cabela’s has announced in a press release:

On Monday, February 19, Cabela’s suspended sponsorship of the Jim Zumbo Outdoors television show until Cabela’s Legal Department could review contractual obligations and commitments relating to our business relationship. As of Tuesday, February 20, Cabela’s has ceased our business relationship with Mr. Zumbo.

Cabela’s strongly disagrees with Mr. Zumbo’s February 16 posting on his Hunting with Jim Zumbo blog on Outdoor Life’s Web site. His opinions on this matter run counter to the beliefs shared by Cabela’s more than 12,000 employees, many of whom are hunters, recreational shooters and firearm enthusiasts.

Outdoor Life has pulled Zumbo’s blog “for the time being,” and his television show may have disappeared from the Outdoor Channel, since it’s sponsored by Remington.

The excrement has well and truly hit the oscillating air-movement device. The real world has been influenced by the internet.

And Zumbo is apparently clueless as to why his comments caused such a sh!tstorm. Yes, he recognizes that he called a lot of people “terrorists,” but he completely misses the point for a lot of us. The “terrorist rifle” comment was bad enough, but what sent me over the edge was this:

To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let’s divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the praries and woods.

Ban. That word.

The first caller after Zumbo’s interview rejected his apology. Gresham defended him:

All I can tell you is that I know Jim. OK? And I’ve known Jim literally for thirty-five years. Jim is as good a person and as staunch a defender of gun rights as I know on the Earth. The only thing is, Jim only knows what Jim knows. You can’t know what you don’t know. He’s fired an AR one time in his life, doesn’t know anything about ’em, and probably the only thing he knows about ’em is what he reads in papers. That’s just a world he doesn’t know anything about. And so he threw an idea out there, screwed it up, and, you know, hey, he’s owning up to it. Um, of course he knows that terrorists, you know, the weapon is not the terrorist, and people are the terrorists. It was a real poor choice of words, and he said he wrote it late at night. Of course, the problem here – you know, when you write for a magazine you get to write something, then it sits there, then you send it in and it’s three of four months before it gets published and everybody else gets a chance at it, to edit it or come back and say “Hey, is that what you really meant to say?” You really shouldn’t write something like this, late at night, and hit the “SEND” button and post it on the internet for the world to see without a chance to sleep on it.

Sorry, but “staunch defenders of gun rights” don’t go using words like “ban.” Period. I don’t give a damn how tired they are.

Unfortunately, the fallout of this self-immolation provides ammunition for our opposition. Because Jim Zumbo is was such a well-respected writer, his words will, undoubtedly, be used against the rest of the gun community. Zumbo might not be a “gun guy,” but how did he miss the original 1994 Assault Weapon Ban – the ban that prompted his good friend Tom Gresham to buy an Evil Black Rifle? How could he not be aware that, with a new Democrat Congress, new attempts to pass gun bans would be quick in coming? How could he be that detached from the politics?

Because he’s a hunter, and hunting is all that matters to him.

Look at this piece from yesterday’s Chattanoogan.com:

Jim Zumbo, Hunting Editor for Outdoor Life magazine, angered firearms enthusiasts across the country with a weekend blog posting. His blog has now been suspended and sponsors are severing ties with Zumbo in spite of his apology.

Zumbo went on to say “game departments should ban them from the praries (sic) and woods.”

At that point, however, there was little, if anything, that would assuage an angry horde of electronically mobilized AR fans. They considered Zumbo’s remarks as being tantamount to a sellout, with Zumbo offering up “black rifles” as a sacrificial lamb for anti-gun forces.

Zumbo’s ill-considered blog may not have been intended to create good-gun, bad-gun categories, but it has certainly raised firebrand rhetoric to an art form. Rather than hunters being supported by recreational and competitive shooting enthusiasts, they have now become “Fudds” to shooters who feel they have been labeled “terrorists” by a “hard-core hunter.”

It’s truly not a pretty picture, but may observers say it accurately reflects a widening gap between “traditional” and “non-traditional” shooting enthusiasts.

With Congress reconsidering the Assault Weapon Ban and Connecticut and New Jersey considering legislation that would limit handgun purchases to one per month, this latest schism is already being used as further evidence of the “need” to regulate firearms -all firearms – more stringently.

Thank you Jim Zumbo.

This is a mistake that might very well cost Zumbo his profession. But as I said in my second post on this topic, the question remains, though, if he’ll educate himself enough to alter his opinion. Zumbo is a gun-bigot. Gresham even acknowledges that he was one himself once. But neither of them comment much on that fact. Zumbo blames the fact that he was tired, but if in vinum, veritas, why not in fatigo, veritas?

Gresham’s last comment was this:

I’m just saying it seems a whole lot less than charitable to me to tell a guy “You screwed up, and you can never make up for it. I will never accept your apology. There’s nothing you can do. It’s one mistake and it’s a death-penalty deal.” That does not seem right to me. I think you’ve got to let a guy say “I screwed up.”

And I agree. But it’s essential not that he just say “I screwed up,” he must understand WHAT his screwup was. Otherwise he’s apologizing for the wrong thing, and that does no good at all.

His apology, both written and verbal, was “I had no idea how many people hunt with these guns.” Not “I should have never suggested banning a firearm for any reason.”

Tam put it best this morning in the opening line of her post An Army of Davids, illustrated:

On Friday evening, a gunwriter who was apparently tired of his 42-year career put his word processor in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

There’s an epitaph for you.

UPDATE: Tom Gresham gets it. Finally. (h/t to Sailorcurt.)

And Cowboy Blob has some excellent advice for Zumbo.

Jim Shepherd of The Shooting Wire opines too. (Temporary link. Scroll down to the op-ed.)

UPDATE: Outdoor Life announces Zumbo’s resignation, but Zumbo characterizes it as being “fired” in a post at Ted Nugent’s message board. He also announces that his TV show has been cancelled. Here’s the kicker:

I hold no grudges. I will continue to stand as firm on pro hunting as I’ve ever done. But what’s different now is that I’ll do all I can to educate others who are, or were, as ignorant as I was about “black” rifles and the controversy that surrounds them. My promise to you is that I’ll learn all I can about these firearms, and by the time this week is out, I’ll order one. The NUGE has invited me to hunt with him using AR-15’s, and I’m eager to go, and learn. I’ll do all I can to spread the word.

I understand that many of you will not accept this apology, believing that the damage has been done and there’s no way to repair it. You have that right. But let me say this. I mentioned this above, and I’ll repeat it. I’m willing to seize this opportunity to educate hunters and shooters who shared my ignorance. If you’re willing to allow me to do that, we can indeed, in my mind, form a stronger bond within our ranks. Maybe in a roundabout way we can bring something good out of this.

RTWT. Six pages of response so far.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wow. Just… wow. DirtCrashr links to this NRA press release: “NRA Publications has suspended its professional ties with Mr. Zumbo.”

MORE: Via David Codrea, Gerber cuts Zumbo loose, too. That leaves what, Swarovski?

I hope Zumbo’s retirement plan was fully financed.

Too Late, Zumbo!

David Codrea goes to the source. Remington has severed its relationship with Jim Zumbo.

UPDATE: AR15.com is running a photoshop thread. My favorite, by “zrxc77”:

UPDATE: The official word:

As a result of comments made by Mr. Jim Zumbo in recent postings on his blog site, Remington Arms Company, Inc., has severed all sponsorship ties with Mr. Zumbo effective immediately. While Mr. Zumbo is entitled to his opinions and has the constitutional right to freely express those opinions, these comments are solely his, and do not reflect the views of Remington.

“Remington has spent tens of millions of dollars defending our Second Amendment rights to privately own and possess firearms and we will continue to vigorously fight to protect these rights,” commented Tommy Millner, Remington’s CEO and President. “As hunters and shooters of all interest levels, we should strive to utilize this unfortunate occurrence to unite as a whole in support of our Second Amendment rights.”

We regret having to terminate our long-standing relationship with Mr. Zumbo, who is a well-respected writer and life-long hunter.

And Outdoor Life has yanked Zumbo’s blog, too.

Eating Our Own

Some of y’all are a bit too quick on the trigger, I think.

A writer, with a blog, posts something egregiously stupid and insulting, severely damaging to our right to keep and bear arms. OK. He’s (supposedly) one of us. Even worse. The reaction? Boycott his sponsors, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Uh, no.

This was not Smith & Wesson selling us out to the Clinton administration. This was one guy. His actions were not sanctioned by either Outdoor Life or Remington. I imagine they were as blindsided by his stupidity as the rest of us.

Posted as a comment in the original thread comes this statement:

ALL – Jim Zumbo in NO WAY speaks for Remington! His opinions are his own. We at Remington take our 2nd Ammendment Rights extremely seriously and ourselves market and manufacturer a AR based 308 rifle. Remington Arms supports the lawful use of all firearms by thier owners in whatever legal manner they choose. We at Remington feel that it is the diversity of our tastes and uses of fireaems that should also be the binding element that assists us all in defending the rights granted to us by our fore fathers.
Rest assured that remington not only does not support jim’s view, we totally disagree! I have no explaination for his perspective.
I proudly own AR’s and support everyones right to do so!
What makes me sick is how quickly people on the internet have called to boycott Remington. All Jim said was he was hunting with our people! This is normal course in our industry. How else do people think we field test? with writers.
Remington has spent tens of millions of dollars to defend your rights and how quickly the thanks is threat and boycott! Please feel Free to post that remington does not agree with Zumbo in any way shape or form and we will assess our relationship with him accordingly.
Tommy Millner
CEO and President

He’s right. It’s not Remington’s fault. It’s not Outdoor Life’s fault. This was not a post that went through the editorial process – it’s a blog.

I have no doubt it was Zumbo’s honest opinion. We can pillory him for that to our heart’s content, but it isn’t Remington’s fault.

Is it OK to ask both parties to censure Zumbo? Yes. It’s also OK for them not too. THEN your conscience can be your guide. But to (as many have) write an angry letter to Remington telling them they’ve seen their last dollar from you? A bit premature, I think.

As I’ve said – we are our own worst enemies.

That Didn’t Take Long…

I’m unfamiliar with the MySpace page ostensibly run for or by the Brady Campaign, but they glommed on to Jim Zumbo’s article almost as rapidly as the gun community did:

Even Remington’s top gun writer agrees on Assault Weapons

With important writers such as this on our side, it is clear that we have a cultural imperative to remove dangerous terrorist rifles from our streets, and our woods.

(Emphasis mine.) They then go on to reproduce the post in its entirety with this supplement:

PS from the Brady Campaign:

We’ve read his apology. Stop copying and pasting it. If we wanted to post it, it would have been included already. Thanks to a few individuals who attempted to spam-post it, comments are now moderated for this blog post. We will still post comments from all viewpoints, as we respect and cherish the first amendment, but you have only those who refused to respect our requests to thank when you have to wait for your comment to be approved.

He apologized? I’ve got to see if I can find that. In comments, the “BradyCampaign” insists:

His statement is obviously a forced and insincere retraction brought about by the financial pressure of the Gun Lobby. One only needs to observe the comments on his apology blog post to see how most gun owners do not agree with it.

Right. The gun lobby. That’d be the couple thousand of us who have written scathing rebukes and insisted A) that we would not subscribe to Outdoor Life, and B) not buy products from sponsors of Zumbo. That “lobby.”

You see, it’s only a “grass-roots movement” if it’s fully funded by George Soros and has a paid administrative staff.

P.S.: He did apologize:

I was wrong, BIG TIME

Someone once said that to err is human. I just erred, and made without question, the biggest blunder in my 42 years of writing hunting articles.

My blog inflamed legions of people I love most….. hunters and shooters. Obviously, when I wrote that blog, I activated my mouth before engaging my brain.

Let me explain the circumstances surrounding that blog. I was hunting coyotes, and after the hunt was over and being beat up by 60 mph winds all day, I was discussing hunting with one of the young guides. I was tired and exhausted, and I should have gone to bed early. When the guide told me that there was a “huge” following of hunters who use AR 15’s and similar weapons to hunt prairies dogs, I was amazed. At that point I wrote the blog, and never thought it through.

Now then, you might not believe what I have to say, but I hope you do. How is it that Zumbo, who has been hunting for more than 50 years, is totally ignorant about these types of guns. I don’t know. I shot one once at a target last year, and thought it was cool, but I never considered using one for hunting. I had absolutely no idea how vast the numbers of folks are who use them.

I never intended to be devisive, and I certainly believe in United we Stand, Divided we Fall. I’ve been an NRA member for 40 years, have attended 8 national NRA conventions in the last 10 years, and I’m an advisory board member for the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance which actively fights anti-hunters and animal rights groups for hunter’s rights.

What really bothers me are some of the unpatriotic comments leveled at me. I fly the flag 365 days a year in my front yard. Last year, through an essay contest, I hosted a soldier wounded in Iraq to a free hunt in Botswana. This year, through another essay contest, I’m taking two more soldiers on a free moose and elk hunt.

When I started blogging, I was told to write my thoughts, expressing my own opinion. The offensive blog I wrote was MY opinion, and no one else’s. None of the companies that I deal with share that opinion, nor were they aware of what I had written until this firestorm started.

Believe it or not, I’m your best friend if you’re a hunter or shooter, though it might not seem that way. I simply screwed up. And, to show that I’m sincere about this, I just talked to Ted Nugent, who everyone knows, and is a Board member of the NRA. Ted is extremely active with charities concerning our wounded military, and though he’s known as a bowhunter, Ted has no problem with AR 15’s and similar firearms. My sincerity stems from the fact that Ted and I are planning a hunt using AR 15’s. I intend to learn all I can about them, and again, I’m sorry for inserting my foot in my mouth.

No, Jim, you expressed your true opinion.

The question remains, though, if you’ll educate yourself enough to alter that opinion.

“I had absolutely no idea how vast the numbers of folks are who use them.” That was obvious. “I never intended to be devisive, and I certainly believe in United we Stand, Divided we Fall. I’ve been an NRA member for 40 years, have attended 8 national NRA conventions in the last 10 years, and I’m an advisory board member for the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance which actively fights anti-hunters and animal rights groups for hunter’s rights.” Have you done anything to protect shooting ranges (for reasons other than sight-in weekend for the Fudds?) Fought any “assault weapon” legislation? I sincerely doubt it.

“Ted (Nugent) and I are planning a hunt using AR 15’s. I intend to learn all I can about them, and again, I’m sorry for inserting my foot in my mouth.” That’s more like it.

Blogging is an off-the-cuff thing. People can say things that they later regret, but if you’re a high-profile “name” in the community, the falls are a lot longer, and the landings a lot rougher.

ETA: Best comment from the new thread:

Coyote hunting trip – $1750.00
Single shot rifle – $300
Six-pack of beer after the hunt – $4.50
Drunken posting revealing your true feelings – Priceless

See that little light flashing on your dashboard? That’s the “Need New Job” signal.

Apology not accepted. You called me, a combat vet and proud gun owner, a terrorist.

Posted by: J.T. | February 18, 2007 at 04:31 PM

Let me check… Uh, yeah, he did. Only two corrections: I’d imagine one of Jimbo’s single-shots would price out at closer to $3k than $300, and I’m thinking single-malt rather than beer.

Elmer Fudds: Our Own Worst Enemies

Exhibit A: Jim Zumbo; professional hunter, author, writer for Outdoor Life, TV personality on the Outdoor Channel, and (therefore) a spokesman for the good “gun culture.”

With spokesmen like these, who needs enemies?

Old Jimbo has written an op-ed at the Outdoor Channel’s “News Wire” site. Let us fisk:

Assault Rifles For Hunters?

As I write this, I’m hunting coyotes in southeastern Wyoming with Eddie Stevenson, PR Manager for Remington Arms, Greg Dennison, who is senior research engineer for Remington, and several writers. We’re testing Remington’s brand new .17 cal Spitfire bullet on coyotes.

I must be living in a vacuum. The guides on our hunt tell me that the use of AR and AK rifles have a rapidly growing following among hunters, especially prairie dog hunters. I had no clue. Only once in my life have I ever seen anyone using one of these firearms.

It’s good to admit you’re clueless, but now you’re going to lecture us as an “expert” on the topic, aren’t you?

I call them “assault” rifles, which may upset some people. Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. I’ll go so far as to call them “terrorist” rifles. They tell me that some companies are producing assault rifles that are “tackdrivers.”

Translation: These rifles aren’t pretty, wood-stocked & blued. Therefore they’re eeeeeevil! Don’t we get enough of this from the Brady-Bunch and their ilk? Funny, I call them “Homeland defense rifles” myself. “Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est.” (“A sword is never a killer, it’s a tool in the killer’s hands”) – Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, these things have no place in hunting. We don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern.

What about the millions of AMERICAN owners (like me) who own them? Don’t want to be “lumped in” with us, either? Note to Zumbo: We don’t care for your opinion.

I’ve always been comfortable with the statement that hunters don’t use assault rifles.

No, you use “long-range sniper rifles.” Comfortable with that statement?

We’ve always been proud of our “sporting firearms.”

Ah, yes. “Sporting firearms.” That would be the 1968 Gun Control Act that proclaimed that only firearms of, well, let the Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership explain it (risking invocation Godwin’s Law, but read on):

The “Gun Control Act” of 1968 (GCA) permits the importation of firearms that are “of a type … generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.” 18 U.S.C. § 925(d)(3). The Nazi Weapons Law (18 March 1938) forbade importation of weapons under substantially the same test: “It is forbidden to manufacture … and to import: Firearms which fold-down, break-down, are collapsible, or are speedily dismantled — beyond the common limits of hunting and sporting activities — …” Id., § 25(1) (translated in full in “Gun Control:” Gateway to Tyranny 60-61, 90 (1992) (emphasis added). The Nazi Weapons Law, and the enforcing regulations, carved the “sporting use” exception also where they permitted licensed persons to carry “firearms, designed for — and usually used for — the hunting of fair game.” Nazi Weapons Law, § 21; Implementing Regulations (19 March 1938), § 32 (in Gateway to Tyranny, at 88, 102)(emphasis added).

The GCA also purports to vest the power in the Secretary of the Treasury to determine whether a firearm has a “sporting purpose.” 18 U.S.C. § 925(d). The Nazi Weapons Law vested the power to decide the fitness of weapons (and their owners) in the unelected bureaucracy and the Nazi courts. Nazi Weapons Law, §§ 15, 25, 26. Germany’s constitution did not restrain its government from destroying fundamental rights. See Miller, Nazi Justiz: Law of the Holocaust 44-45 (1996). By contrast, the U.S. Constitution expressly restrains the federal government from infringing on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. U.S. Const. Amend II. BATF regulations that prevent the importation of firearms violate the Second Amendment by infringing on this right.

BATF regulations, which distinguish between firearms based on whether they are for “sporting purposes,” must be arbitrary and capricious. Such regulations far exceed the power which the Founders’ Constitution delegated to the federal government. See, e.g., The Federalist Papers, Nos. 41 & 45. What is a “sporting purpose” is wholly a matter of personal opinion, and surely not a matter for an unelected federal agency to decide. Indeed, the Second Amendment expressly forbids the government from making such a decision. To enshrine an agency’s mere opinion into law is to make arbitrary law; such arbitrary power is the handmaiden of despotism. See Hayek, The Road to Serfdom 68-69, 71, 73-74 (Chicago Press: 1976 ed.).

(Emphasis mine.) It just so happens that I’m reading Hayek’s Road to Serfdom right now. Perhaps Mr. Zumbo ought to pick up a copy, since he’s taken it upon himself to define what is and what isn’t a “sporting use.”

This really has me concerned. As hunters, we don’t need the image of walking around the woods carrying one of these weapons. To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let’s divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the praries and woods.

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? You’ve just given ammunition (no pun intended) to our opponents, and that has me “really concerned.”

There are comments at the bottom of the article. Other commentary at AR15.com (natch), at Shooting the Messenger, The War on Guns (also natch), and The Unforgiving Minute. That’s all Technorati has found links for right now, but I’d say the sentiment is running about 90% against Mr. Zumbo.

Perhaps he should consider his audience before shoving his word-processor into his mouth.

Whoops! Tam unloads on Mr. Zumbo as well.

I don’t think Jimbo knows how big a can of whoopass he dumped on himself.

ETA: My favorite comment at the piece so far:

Jim is entitled to his opinion, but that is a huge cup of stupid.

Way to fight for someone who like things that you don’t.

We are our own worst enemy.

Posted by: GeorgeInNePa | February 17, 2007 at 09:20 PM

Oscar Poppa also comments, and links to several other bloggers who have posts up on the topic.