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.How nice. Zumbo called the black rifle owners terrorists, and now David Petzal's likening those who rightfully called for his sacking to mental patients. To be fair, he's not characterizing all those who disagree with Zumbo as such, but I've said it before and I'll say it again -- when you propose to limit people's rights, for whatever reason, for good or bad that's basically the kind of reaction you get. The persecution of the American gun owner didn't start yesterday; it's been a low-level but sustained campaign over the last several decades, since at least 1934. First they clamped down on full-auto, then they threw a tangled web of federal regulation down on the gun business as a whole, then they tangled it more with background checks and waiting periods, then came that odious ban on semi-autos, and all the while none of that, none of that has accomplished the goal the gun-haters claim they want -- crime reduction. (We all know what they want away from the cameras & microphones, though...)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
It seems to me that we're screwed either way as far as the antis' reactions are concerned, though. My money says Sarah Brady would be using our reaction against us no matter what it was. If we were silent, she'd say we pretty much agree that the black rifles have no legitimate sporting purpose (or she and her evil minions will at least try to spin it that way).
Some will say that the negative reaction could have been a little more mild, but I don't agree. This was basically one of our own selling us out. He can claim ignorance all he wants, but I said this in earlier comments and I'll say it now:
I'm sure hunters are a fine lot, and I don't begrudge them their sport, but I do fully expect them to know that owning any firearm is in and of itself a political statement and that we're all in this together -- especially after more than 40 years of being involved in an industry of which firearms have been such a big part. There was no excuse whatsoever for what Jim Zumbo said. Not one. "Fine and great things which Mr. Zumbo and his sponsors and publishers have brought to the hunting fraternity" be damned.And that's where this comment comes in: "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."
An unpopular opinion. Zumbo basically called millions of black rifle owners terrorists, and Petzal boils that down to an "unpopular opinion." But it's bigger than that, even. One more time, no gun is safe, even the All-American deer rifle that sits in the gun rack. And whoever hasn't figured that out is just, flatly, willfully blind, and has no business being within ten miles of any business involving firearms. We can only hope that Michael Bane is right when he says "for the first time in years, hunters and shooters are on the same page." There's no excuse by now for us not being. There never has been. We should have been hanging together all along.