Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another Case Study in Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Dan of Jackalope Pursuivant doesn't post much, but he does tell some interesting stories of his service in the National Park Service. Read his tale of an outspoken Lefty park visitor. He tells it well.

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.
I Understand Entirely...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wedges and False Flags

See David Hardy's very important post on the ongoing fallout from the Zumbo incident, Falling for false flag operations.

This is something that all of us must combat.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Did You Hear That Gore Won an Oscar?.

I recorded his acceptance speech:

Better Late than Never.

Via Joe Huffman, a London Sunday Herald op-ed that I found quite surprising. I'm going to copy the whole thing here for archival purposes without comment. (Yes, I know. Unusual for me.)
Dunblane made us all think about gun control … so what went wrong?
By Ian Bell

ALMOST 11 years now. Kids grow up, life changes, leaves rot on the branch, and all memories decay. Stuff happens. Almost 11 years ago, on the morning after, I told myself that I had sworn off the vampire habit. You know the sort of thing. Something vast and terrible and inexplicable happens. The journalist dusts down his purple prose and sets out, consciously and deliberately, to feel everyone's pain. Inexcusable, really.

For example: they gave me a prize for Dunblane. To this day, I have never understood why I am the only person I know who finds the fact unsettling. WH Auden, born a century ago last week, said famously that poetry makes nothing happen. He should have tried journalism.

Facts: In mid-March of 1996 Thomas Hamilton, 43, warped, morally crippled, dead in his soul, certainly disgusting, the suicide-in-waiting who should have done us all a favour in the privacy of his own nightmare, went into the precincts of Dunblane primary, and into the gym class, with all his precious sex-toy handguns.

He killed 16 infants, then their teacher, then himself. He accomplished all this with four weapons, in three short minutes. Lots of official things - never adequately explained, for my money - had gone wrong before the event. Somehow that ceased to be the point. Half the world was staggered, but Scotland went into a state of near-clinical shock. The human ability even to begin to pretend to comprehend was defeated.

All over the country, people did irrational things, knowing them to be irrational. They turned up at schools, 100 miles from the scene, just to convince themselves that their own infants were safe. They called home from work, or called people at work, simply to prove that sanity still prevailed. Many could not face the idea of the working day. Strangers in the street, caught unawares by the news, were in tears. If you happen to be too young to remember, trust this: I'm not making it up.

Explanation and analysis, journalism's default responses, were worse than pointless. Those rituals, too, seemed insulting. Joining the world's media on the streets of Dunblane to ask people "how they felt" was worse than ghoulish: I refused that request. To their credit, nobody pressed the point. There was still the usual column to be written, however.

In fact, over the days and weeks that followed, there was more than one. I allowed myself two simple, possibly simplistic, strategies. First, I was not ever going to attempt to "explain" Hamilton: the bereaved deserved better. Secondly, in my small way, I was going to take on anyone who failed to support the banning of handguns.

There was a lot of American comment, predictably, and much of it abusive. The clichés appeared as if by return of post. "Guns don't kill people," they wrote. "People kill people." So why - this struck me almost as the definition of self-evident - did Thomas Hamilton feel a need for four of the damnable things?

Then the Duke of Edinburgh, and the field sports people, and the target shooters entered the fray. The royal consort, with his usual sensitivity, expressed the view that things were getting out of hand, and that a more considered response was required. I can clobber royals in my sleep.

The most troubling questions came, instead, from those who answered my simplicities with one of their own. They didn't oppose a ban, as such. They merely wanted to know why I was so sure that legislation would work.

That seemed obvious. It even seemed faintly stupid to think otherwise. No guns, no gun-killings. Remove the threat: wasn't that one of the jobs of government?

Sceptics were more subtle than I allowed. What they meant was that it is easy to impose laws on the law-abiding. Criminals, by definition, don't take much interest in well-meaning legislation. If they chose to arm themselves while the rest of society was, in effect, disarming, outraged newspaper commentators and their quick fixes might merely make matters worse.

I'm still not convinced, or not entirely. A rueful young man in Los Angeles told me once that his city boasted more cars than people, and more guns than cars. "Current population?" he added. "Eleven million, give or take." To him, the notion of a country patrolled by unarmed police officers was a kind of fantastic dream. To him, equally, the fact that nice kids could lay hands on the family pistol - bought for "self-defence" - and die while simply messing around in the back yard was not an example to be envied, or copied.

"You know what guns do?" he asked. "They go off. You know what guns are for? To kill. That's their purpose. Only the rhetoric is harmless."

Back then, I believed every word. America had, and has, too many of the instruments that Thomas Hamilton found so alluring. Yet almost 11 years on, what do I read, and what do I say?

I read of three London teenagers murdered in the space of 11 days. I read of firearms "incidents" spreading like an epidemic across our cities. I read of Tony Blair holding a Downing Street summit on a crisis that seems - call me naive - a greater threat to many communities than any terrorism.

What I say then becomes obvious: my idea didn't work. In fact, I begin to thread certain fears together, like links in a chain. Here's one: if even London teenagers can provide themselves with the means to kill 15-year-old Billy Cox in his bedroom, guns have become commonplace, so commonplace that every would-be terrorist worth his salt must be armed to the teeth. Bans have failed utterly.

That's a nightmare for another day, however. We can worry about what might happen after we think of what is actually happening.

David Cameron's Tories argue the issue is societal, a problem of parenting and family breakdown. John Reid, home secretary, speaks of people "working together" for a gun-free world while he hints at new laws. Menzies Campbell, of the Liberals, says we need more and more effective policing.

Each of these opinions may have some value. I'd like to think so. Yet why do they sound like the words of men who have only the faintest idea of what life might be like in Harlesden or Moss Side? It is entirely proper to talk of youths who have become detached from society. You may, however, need to qualify the statement with a question: who is detached from whom?

A weapons fetish escalates for a fairly obvious reason. Many things may have changed since my working-class youth, but I am certain that one piece of logic persists. If he is armed, you had better be armed too. Knives become swords, swords become pistols. Status, respect and "security" follow. If you live. Having a father in the household, or access to a youth club, or hopes of a decent education can seem minor, by comparison, on a dark Saturday night.

Saying so solves nothing, obviously. Perhaps journalists, far less politicians, should make that confession now and then. We could all demand a better world - preferably by tomorrow lunchtime - but always bear our fallibility in mind. It goes back to the question I refused to attempt almost 11 years ago. If I could not explain Thomas Hamilton any more than I can explain the killers of Billy Cox, perhaps I have nothing useful to say about anyone's desire to kill.

I can guess, for all that, that there is something unreasonable, even bizarre, about declaring a youth crisis if teenagers are simply as we have made them. It's Tony Blair's fault, if you like. It's my doing, if you prefer. It's schools, or a lack of discipline, or insufficient policing, or new sets of laws, or just society.

If that last word still means anything, however, then we are all, in fact, culpable. Who turned Thomas Hamilton into a beast? God isn't talking. That leaves the rest of us. I cling, nevertheless, to one near-instinctive conclusion from 11 years ago. Guns breed guns. When they enter a society they multiply like a pestilence.

Let's concede that all the bans have failed. That doesn't mean we should also fail to ask a practical question. Britain has become a security state in recent years. Nobody strolls unmolested through customs these days. There are terrorist suspects, so they say, at every turn. So why, precisely, are handguns still getting into this country?
OK, one comment: Why are they getting into the country? Simple economics. Suppy and Demand. Same reason illicit drugs are getting in.

He doesn't quite get it, but at least he's finally asking the right questions.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

And Now for Your Amusement: Deer Roping!

Stolen Taken from the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks message board, via Deer Camp Blog:
I had this idea that I was going to rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it. The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that since they congregated at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away) that it should not be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it home.

I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope. The cattle, who had seen the roping thing before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it. After about 20 minutes my deer showed up. 3 of them. I picked out a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold. The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation. I took a step towards it. It took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope and received an education.

The first thing that I learned is that while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope. That deer EXPLODED.

The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope with some dignity. A deer, no chance. That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I originally imagined. The only up side is that they do not have as much stamina as many animals. A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head.

At that point I had lost my taste for corn fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope. I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual. Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer's momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in, so I didn't want the deer to have to suffer a slow death. I managed to get it lined up to back in between my truck and the feeder, a little trap I had set beforehand. Kind of like a squeeze chute. I got it to back in there and started moving up so I could get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody so I was very surprised when I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head.almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts. The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective. It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds. I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now) tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing the bejesus out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose.

That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day.
Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike right about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp. I learned a long time ago that when an animal like a horse strikes at you with their hooves and you can't get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape. This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond I devised a different strategy. I screamed like woman and tried to turn and run. The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and three times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

Now when a deer paws at you and knocks you down it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head. I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away.

Now for the local legend. I was pretty beat up. My scalp was split open, I had several large goose eggs, my wrist was bleeding pretty good and felt broken (it turned out to be just badly bruised) and my back was bleeding in a few places, though my insulated canvas jacket had protected me from most of the worst of it. I drove to the nearest place, which was the co-op. I got out of the truck, covered in blood and dust and looking likeheaven. The guy who ran the place saw me through the window and came running out yelling "what happened"

I have never seen any law in the state of Kansas that would prohibit an individual from roping a deer. I suspect that this is an area that they have overlooked entirely. Knowing, as I do, the lengths to which law enforcement personnel will go to exercise their power, I was concerned that they may find a way to twist the existing laws to paint my actions as criminal. I swear. Not wanting to admit that I had done something monumentally stupid played no part in my response. I told him "I was attacked by a deer." I did not mention that at the time I had a rope on it. The evidence was all over my body. Deer prints on the back of my jacket where it had stomped all over me and a large deer print on my face where it had struck me there.

I asked him to call somebody to come get me. I didn't think I could make it home on my own. He did.

Later that afternoon, a game warden showed up at my house and wanted to know about the deer attack. Surprisingly, deer attacks are a rare thing and wildlife and parks was interested in the event. I tried to describe the attack as completely and accurately as I could. I was filling the grain hopper and this deer came out of nowhere and just started kicking theheaven out of me and BIT me. It was obviously rabid or insane or something. EVERYBODY for miles around knows about the deer attack (the guy at the co-op has a big mouth). For several weeks people dragged their kids in the house when they saw deer around and the local ranchers carried rifles when they filled their feeders. I have told several people the story, but NEVER anybody around here. I have to see these people every day and as an outsider, a "city folk", I have enough trouble fitting in without them snickering behind my back and whispering "there is the ding-butt that tried to rope the deer."
Now that's funny right there. I don't care who you are!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Petzal Logic.

I don't know how accurate this is, but it's the closest I've seen to date to the whole Field & Stream piece by David E. Petzal from 1994. Taken from a comment at Petzal's last most recent blog post - read it and weep:
Field & Stream (West ed.), June 1994 v99 n2 p26(2)

Reveille. (gun control laws) David E. Petzal.

THE BUGLE CALL KNOWN AS REVEILLE IS A CHEERFUL, energetic tune that, when I was in the Army, few soldiers actually got to hear. The real reveille was something quite different; it consisted of the NCOIC (noncommissioned officer in charge) snapping on the overhead lights at 4:30 A.M. and slamming a sawed-off broom handle around the inside of a garbage can. That is about the least cheerful experience that you can have, but it wakes you up for fair, and brings you face to face with reality.

Real-world reveille came for gun owners this February in the form of a single sentence buried deep in the 1994 Federal Budget. On page 201 of that document, under the heading "Passing Effective Crime Control Legislation," there is this sentence: "The administration also supports a ban on semiautomatic firearms; limitations on access to handguns by juveniles; and the creation of a crime control fund to pay for eligible crime control initiatives."

The key phrase, the one that turns on the overhead lights and crashes the broom handle around in the GI can, is "a ban on semi-automatic firearms." Not "assault weapons," but semi-automatic firearms. All of them. It is simple English, and there is nothing else it can mean. It means all semi-autos.

It also means that the NRA has been right all along when it warned us that an "assault weapon" bill was only one of a series of steps in a much more ambitious plan to outlaw many types of firearms. If you would like to dismiss the NRA's warning as paranoid and hysterical, you must ignore the fact that the White House has put us on notice: All semi-autos are going to go if the Clinton Administration has its way.

In January, President Clinton included the following in his State of the Union Address to Congress:

"Hunters must always be free to hunt. Law-abiding adults should always be free to own guns and protect their homes. I respect that part of our culture. I grew up in it. . . . But I want to ask the sportsmen and others to join us in this campaign to stop gun violence. I say to you: I know you didn't create this problem, but we need your help to solve it. There is no sporting purpose on earth that should stop the United States Congress from banning assault weapons that out-gun police and cut down children."

Will the real Clinton policy please stand up? Before Congress and the United States, the President said he wants to get rid of assault weapons. In the Federal Budget, it's semi-automatic firearms. Which is the real agenda?

There are a couple of possibilities. One is that some overreaching functionary was confused by the terms "semi-automatic firearm" and "assault weapon" and assumed they were interchangeable. This is given support by Barry Toiv, a spokesman for the Office of Management and the Budget, who was quoted as follows in the March 14th edition of The Washington Times: "The language in the budget is a mistake. It made its way through without being fixed."

A more likely scenario is somewhat simpler. The Administration wants to ban semi-automatic firearms, judged the political climate to be favorable, and decided to put its intent on the public record, albeit not in a forthright manner.

Let us now consider the legislation submitted to Congress by Senator Diane Feinstein (D/CA). Amendment No. 1152 would, if ratified, be applied to the Omnibus Crime Bill (which was passed late in 1993 by the Senate), and appears to be the type of "reasonable" gun bill that "reasonable" gun owners should support. Amendment 1152 would ban, by name, a number of firearms (or duplicates of same) such as the Colt AR-15, MAC-10 and NRC-11, Galu, Uzi, Street Sweeper, and others of this ilk [e.g., the FN-FAL]. It would also ban guns by description; i.e., firearms that incorporate folding or telescoping stocks, flash suppressors, threaded muzzles, bayonet lugs, grenade launchers, and "conspicuous" pistol grips.

Also included are semi-auto shotguns with magazines that hold more than five rounds, and any large-capacity magazines (tubular magazines for .22 rimfires exempted), which means those that hold more than ten rounds.

The Feinstein Amendment would, upon passage, allow the present owners of proscribed guns to keep them, provided that they obtained and maintained Form 4473s documenting their ownership. However, no new guns of the types described could be bought, sold, or owned by civilians.

The Amendment contains a sunset clause, meaning that it expires after ten years. It also contains a lengthy list of firearms that are exempt. These guns include bolt, pump, and lever-actions, and many semi-automatic rifles and shotguns of the sporting variety.

If you are a gun owner who is looking for the middle ground, it is very hard to argue against legislation such as this. Senator Feinstein, it seems, has made every effort to prescribe "assault weapons" and protect "legitimate firearms."

So what's wrong with supporting--or at least not opposing--this amendment? Perhaps nothing--except that the reveille sounded by the 1994 Federal Budget warns us we can't think of Amendment 1152 as a final step. Anti-gunners see it as an interim measure, paving the way for much wider prohibitions. Sarah Brady, Senator Metzenbaum, and others, have been quite honest about what they have in mind. The Feinstein Amendment is, in their view, just one in a series of steps to outlaw other types of firearms. The next step, without doubt, is handguns. In the lengthy list of "legitimate" guns protected by Amendment 1152, not one handgun is mentioned.

There's more. President Clinton, in a lengthy interview in the December 9, 1993 issue of Rolling Stone was asked by national editor William Greider:

"Is it conceivable that the country. . . could entertain the possibility of banning handguns? Is that a cockamamie idea in your mind? Or is that in the future?"

President Clinton answered: "I don't think the American people are there right now [emphasis mine]. But with more than 200 million guns in circulation, we've got so much more to do on this issue before we reach that. I don't think that's an option now [emphasis mine]. But there are certain kinds of guns that can be banned and a lot of other reasonable regulations that can be imposed. The American people's attitudes are going to be shaped by whether things get better or worse."

You are at liberty to interpret this any way you wish. My interpretation is: "We haven't got the votes for a handgun ban right now. In the future, if I think the votes are there, well go for it."

Judging by the letters we get at Field & Stream, and the people I talk to within the firearms industry, there are many of us who would like to rid the United States of assault weapons. It is true that these weapons account for only a miniscule percentage of armed crime, but the crimes they are used in tend to be horrific.

The classic example of this is the schoolyard massacre in Stockton, California, in 1989, when a deranged man named Patrick Purdy used an AK-47 clone to kill five children and wound twenty-nine others [in fact, most were shot with Purdy's 15-shot, 9mm handgun]. The fact that Purdy was at liberty with a gun of any kind was due to a catastrophic failure of the California justice system, but the question we have to ask is, if Purdy had not had a thirty-shot semi-automatic rifle that was designed for the express purpose of taking human life, would the carnage have been so great?

Much is made about the difficulty involved in defining an "assault weapon." However, firearms such as the AK-47, AKM, Uzi, Street Sweeper, and others [like the FN-FAL] have two things in common: They are designed for killing people, and they enable a person who is unskilled in the use of firearms to do an extraordinary amount of damage in practically no time at all.

Assault weapons are designed to be produced quickly and cheaply, and in huge numbers. They are designed to operate under conditions that would destroy civilian small arms. They are designed to put out a high volume of fire with a high degree of controllability. It is these characteristics that prevent assault weapons from being us as anything but what they are. (The AR-15/M-16, and the M1A in modified form, are highly accurate, and have a legitimate place in organized target competition.) You can remove the flash suppressors and the bayonet lugs; you can change the shape of the stocks; you can sell "sporting" ammunition for them; but they remain guns for killing people.

Gun owners--all gun owners--pay a heavy price for having to defend the availability of these weapons. 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. We have received a wake-up call that clearly warns us that gun ownership is under siege. On the other hand, the public at large has been sent another kind of reveille: that guns are the root of most present-day evil, and the NRA is somehow to blame for the guns.

MOST AMERICANS HAVE LITTLE FAITH IN THE promises that politicians make, and with reason. Most gun owners are uneasy about making concessions of any kind, and with reason. But it may be time to consider shifting from an absolute opposition to any ban on any guns to an effort to get lawmakers to include a guarantee that will safeguard our handguns, and other arms--something not subject to the whims of the BATF or the Secretary of the Treasury or Sarah Brady. If the Feinstein Amendment included a list of "protected" handguns, and did away with its prohibition on magazines that hold more than ten shots, that would be something for us to think about. If Senator Fienstein is willing to meet gun owners halfway, we should think about her amendment very hard indeed.

For at some point we must face the fact that an Uzi or an AKM or an Ak-47 should no more be generally available than a Claymore mine or a block of C4 explosive. It is time for these guns to be limited to people with Treasury Department licenses, just as with fully automatic arms. I doubt if anyone would suffer much without assault weapons. Surely, we will suffer with them.

(All bold is my emphasis.) Petzal's comment in that post:

As has been pointed out by those of you with long memories, I wrote a piece 13 years ago about the then-looming assault rifle ban. The story was unpopular with a lot of people, but nowhere in it did I endorse the ban, as some are claiming. I note that none of you have seen fit to haul up the many, many times I’ve said critical things about Senators Clinton, Schumer, Feinstein, and of course our beloved former President Bubba. But then it seems that most of you who are visiting here don't read this blog, or Field & Stream, or what I've written to defend the Second Amendment over the years.

Here’s some other relevant information: When I wrote it, black guns were not nearly as important a part of shooting as they are now.
My response:

"When I wrote it, black guns were not nearly as important a part of shooting as they are now."

Yet, had the gun-rights community backed down on the "evil black rifle" topic an inch, if they had, in fact, taken your advice and not paid the "heavy price for having to defend the availability of these weapons," they would not be as popular as they are today. They would not be the dog, rather than the tail. And your M1A would most probably be banned as well, with your evil "long-range sniper rifles" next up on the agenda.

How can a "gun guy" not get this?

We cannot be divided on this topic. The right to arms is not the right to hunt. It is not the right to shoot birds or clay pigeons. It is the right TO ARMS. Defend THAT, and you get to keep your particular sport. Deny it, and risk losing all.

The Black Rifle people understand that. The Fudds for some reason don't.

No, Mr. Petzal, you didn't "endorse the ban" - you advocated "compromise" after explaining that we couldn't trust the gun ban crowd because they wanted everything. Frightened that you might lose your "sporting" semi-automatics, you were willing to give them half in the self-admittedly futile attempt to gain "a guarantee that will safeguard our handguns, and other arms". After all, you can't hunt with an "assault rifle," right?

Thank you Petzal Chamberlain for your attempt to secure "peace in our time."

But now, since we were not willing to "compromise" - and made that fact plain - the "Assault Weapons Ban" that your attitude helped pass has sunsetted and "black guns" are a far more important part of shooting world and the firearms industry than hunting rifles. And, subsequently, you've changed your words - but the tune remains the same.

Again I will quote master phrase-smith Tamara K:
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.
Get over your stubbornness, and get your head out of your posterior.

Defend them ALL. Or LOSE them all, one little chunk at a time.

Even Neville supported Winston Churchill once reality was made obvious to him.

"More proof that anger makes you stupid."

That's the seventh comment on David E. Petzal's "last thing I’m going to say in this space about the Zumbo matter." My comment is #2.

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!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Something Everyone Should Read.

Michael S. Brown's Sept. 2000 essay, The Radicalization of America's Gun Culture. Excerpt:
Since the National Firearms Act was signed into law in 1934, the number of gun control laws at all levels of government have multiplied exponentially. So has the overall crime rate, which some argue is a direct result of gun control laws that discourage self-defense.

Although none of these laws reduced crime, each new law creates another way that a well intentioned gun owner can inadvertently end up in prison or ruined by legal costs. Some have been killed in raids by government agents. Much like laws passed to promote the failed war on drugs, each new gun law gives the police additional powers that threaten basic constitutional rights.

America's lawful gun owners are painfully aware of these facts. Since gun laws don't reduce crime, they wonder, what is the real purpose? This question has led to numerous theories that attempt to explain why the "ruling elite", which includes the media and many politicians, would want to eliminate civilian gun ownership in America. American gun owners feel as if they are being slowly crushed. One writer recently described this decades-long campaign as a slow motion hate crime.

Frustration has been building in the gun culture for thirty years and has been accelerating with the faster pace of anti-gun attacks and the dramatic improvement in communications. Stories of outrageous persecution by government agencies now circulate like wildfire via the internet. Anti-gun bills introduced in any legislature are instantly made known to millions. Gun owners know the major players in the anti-gun lobby as well as they know the villains in their favorite movies.
Read the whole thing. It is quite relevant to the current situation.

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.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

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.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Let it Wait

Let it Wait.

I was going to post a really long piece tonight on the Zumbo controversy, but I have decided (taking his example) that I'm going to let it marinate overnight before I hit "publish."

Besides, things are changing rapidly in this case, and I might miss something I'll want to include.

Tomorrow.
Quote of the Month.

Via Alger, an op-ed in today's New York Post by strategist and author Ralph Peters explains it perfectly:
Providing aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime is treason. It's not "just politics." It's treason.

And signaling our enemies that Congress wants them to win isn't "supporting our troops."

The "nonbinding resolution" telling the world that we intend to surrender to terrorism and abandon Iraq may be the most disgraceful congressional action since the Democratic Party united to defend slavery.
RTWT.

Monday, February 19, 2007

On a Lighter Note...

I see Britney Spears has decided to make the drapes match the carpet. So to speak.

Apparently this has displaced the death of Anna Nichole Smith as the top news story of the century of the week.

Meanwhile, I understand we're conducting a war somewhere or something...

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.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

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.