"Mr. President, the National Rifle Association leadership has stated repeatedly that a ban on assault weapons is ineffective and unnecessary. They assert that guns labeled as assault weapons are rarely used in violent crimes and that most people use them for hunting. However, despite these repeated assertions, the list of people speaking out against assault weapons continues to grow.
Jim Zumbo, an outdoors entrepreneur who lives in a log cabin near Yellowstone National Park, has spent much of his life writing for prominent outdoor magazines, delivering lectures across the country and who starred in a highly rated TV show about big-game hunting. Jim has been an NRA member for 40 years, and, according to his Web site, has appeared with NRA officials in 70 cities across the country. This relationship changed drastically when Jim expressed his commonsense opinion on assault weapons. Last month, after learning that some hunters were using assault weapons to hunt prairie dogs, Jim expressed his thoughts in his personal blog on the Outdoor Life magazine website. He wrote:
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.’’
He continued by stating that in his:
. . . 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.’’
The reaction from NRA officials was swift and callous. They immediately severed all ties with Mr. Zumbo. His TV program on the Outdoor Channel was canceled, and his longtime career with Outdoor Life magazine ended. In addition, many of his corporate ties to the biggest names in gun making, such as Remington Arms Co., were terminated.
Jim Zumbo has worked for years to improve the image of outdoorsmen. As he put it:
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 prairies and woods.
We all owe Jim Zumbo a debt of gratitude for his forthrightness, his honesty and his courage. We must put the safety of our communities first by taking up and passing sensible gun legislation that includes renewing the assault weapons ban."
Sen. Carl Levin, US Senator from Michigan and Ranking Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 20, 2007 S3347
Yes, Mr. Zumbo's words were used against us.
No, not much has been done by Mr. Zumbo to counteract this.
Mr. Zumbo's words are history, and he has slipped into irrelevance. Had he acted quickly, he may have been able to stop the damage that was done. Instead, he failed to see the problem, again and again, making excuses instead of making a difference.
I hold no ill will towards Jim Zumbo, but each time he is brought up again, we give him, his words, and his forced apology more credence than they deserve. Let him drift off into obscurity.
Note that it was not the NRA who rose up against Mr. Zumbo, as Sen. Levin stated, but an internet force of gun owners to be reckoned with. There is a lesson in this for us all. There is a lesson for Mr. Zumbo, obviously. There is a lesson for the NRA. There is a lesson for Sen. Levin and other politicians like him. Finally there is a lesson for gun owners. Who will learn their lesson? That is the real question.