The Jim Zumbo kafuffle has been interesting to follow. For anyone not involved with firearm politics, Zumbo, the hunting editor for Outdoor Life magazine made a statement on his Outdoor Life blog that military style semi-auto rifles – black guns or ARs as some like to call them – should not be used for hunting. If he had stopped there he probably would have taken flack but survived. There would have been lots of commentary pro and con, but he wouldn’t have been permanently damaged. But then he made a cardinal error. He called these firearms “terrorist guns”. Much stuff hit the fan.
In the U.S. as in Canada these guns have been demonized by anti-gunners, politicians and the press and owners and gun rights proponents are rightfully paranoid about any attacks on their legitimacy. In Canada, through legislation, many specific makes and models have been classed as “prohibited” and are unavailable for purchase by most licensed gun owners. In the U.S. the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, was removed from legislation as recently as 2004 through a sunset clause. Thus to have a respected and prominent outdoor writer – someone the firearms community considered a friend and supporter – come out publicly and call them terrorist guns, was in their eyes tantamount to complete and total betrayal.
Although it’s hard to believe, Zumbo didn’t seem to understand the politics of the issue nor did he seem to know that there are countless shooters in the U.S. who shoot these guns, in competition, for hunting and just for the sheer fun of it, and that they are passionate about their right to own these guns.
For those interested in the story, The Shooting Wire has a good a review of how it has all played out to date.
Needless to say, Zumbo has been destroyed by the firestorm that arose in the wake of his comments.
The interesting aspect of this nuclear explosion has been the sense of betrayal being shown by the AR owners and shooters. That’s probably because they are most aware of the fact that if the ‘gun-banners’ ever get into power, their guns will be the first to go. They believe strongly in
Benjamin Franklin’s statement: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall hang separately.” Unfortunately for the gun rights cause, whether in Canada or the U.S. that truism isn’t that obvious to all gun owners.
We see it everywhere. Longbow aficionados look down on the compound bow users and they both disavow the crossbow shooter to the point where in many places it is illegal to use a crossbow in a bowhunting season.
But mostly you see it within the firearms community. In Britain the side-by-side and over/under shotgun owners were willing to sell out those who shot with pump guns or self-loaders. Rifle shooters are often all too willing to turn a blind eye to increased legislation against handgun ownership. Even while the emails rolled in skewering Zumbo, there were comments that ARs shouldn’t be used for hunting and that the writer wouldn’t hunt with someone using an AR. So you can figure that if push came to shove there are those amongst us who would sleep with the enemy if they thought it might save their personal shooting style.
And that’s why Zumbo got torched. He gave those AR owners a glimpse of their possible future.
It’s hard to believe that gun owners in general, who are under attack from all directions, can’t understand Mr. Franklin’s statement of fact. If we let them isolate us into separate groups, they will pick us off one by one.