Monday, February 19, 2007

Jim Zumbo Broohaha

Ok, so I suppose I should comment on this writer/editor for Outdoor Life (once a respected outdoors/hunting/shooting/fishing magazine) who made comments about certain semi-auto rifles and their use in hunting. The professionally deceased Mr. Zumbo aroused the ire of the shooting community with his comments which equated the owners and users of such firearms with terrorists. Rightly so. Much has been written on this and you can do a search to find it all. I can only add these few comments which apply to life in general.

1 - Don't allow yourself to get lazy and lose track of what is happening in your chosen field. Mr. Zumbo apparently did do exactly that. His ignorance allowed him to make such a comment.
2 - Don't allow yourself to get arrogant and think that your elevated position permits you to make outrageous, unsubstantiated comments derogatory to more than 50% of your customers or to broad portions of the population at large. Mr. Zumbo apparently did exactly this.
3 - Don't give your enemies comfort by disparaging your friends (or yourself). Mr. Zumbo did that.
4 - Don't denegrate your employer(s). Mr. Zumbo did that.
5 - Apologies don't count for much when you are clearly just trying to save your job, keep you money, or your life. Folks can most often easily tell the difference. They will trust and respect you even less for backing down.

Mr. Zumbo, to you I say that I think you are an honest man. You honestly believe what you said about the use and users of AR-15s and I believe you were honestly sorry that you said those things. But, I believe you still think you're right. I know you are not only wrong, that you have denigrated every serviceperson, every owner of an AR-15 who target shoots or hunts with his gun, every user of every semi-auto firearm, rifle and pistol, every person who knows that the right to keep and bear arms is what defends every other right. I believe that you honestly believe that freedom and liberty can be compromised in the interest of security. But you are wrong as has been and is being proved in many countries today including the USofA. Your words are already being used against those of us who had thought we were your friends, your compatriots. We were wrong to think that you could see and understand and would work for our freedoms.

Ultimately, Mr. Zumbo may be forgotten for anything he's done other than this statement made in a blog. I know he will be departing from the public shooting scene. Many, including myself, will now go out of our way to avoid his product and those that publish him. We can only hope that he hasn't damaged the cause of freedom too severely.

You see, the Brady Bunch has already seized on this statement. Ironically, they are also prosyletizing against Mr. Zumbo's beloved scope sighted, military cartridge chambered, "sniper" rifles, even before he opined on the suitability of a popular firearms system.

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

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

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

Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, these things have no place in hunting. We don't need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. I've always been comfortable with the statement that hunters don't use assault rifles. We've always been proud of our "sporting firearms."

This really has me concerned. As hunters, we don't need the image of walking around the woods carrying one of these weapons. To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let's divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the praries and woods.
Then Mr. Zumbo discovered, as did his bosses, that there were some mighty peeved folks out there so he wrote this.
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 divisive, 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.

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