Friday, February 23, 2007

The Zumbo Flap

First, read Tam here for the background:

“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.”

Old hunting writer Jim Zumbo called semiauto rifles “terrorist guns”, and said they should be banned.

Dumb, and ignorant. As anyone who knows me knows, I disagree with Zumbo.

I do not support the 1994 "Assault" weapons ban. I am an NRA Life member. I own a Russki SKS.


In Gun Nut, his old friend Dave Petzal, WHILE DISAGREEING, posted a limited defense of his old friend. Last I looked, there were over 400 comments, most insulting. Here is a sample.

"I am honestly starting to believe that a lot of these hick hunter types are actually socialists who found a copy of Mao and would like to see America fade into socialist aristocracy."

["Hick socialist aristocrat" may be the most unlikely and oxymoronic combination of words I have ever seen.]

"FUDD [ie, hunter] ignorance is a DANGEROUS thing to firearm ownership."


I agree with the commentators below.

"1. The last time I was around anything this vicious, my mother-in-law was going after the last beer at my wedding reception.
2. We don't need enemies, we got each other.
3. Now I understand the Salem Witch Trials.
4. Could some one arrange a truce before the NRA convention in April? I have enough stress in my life."


(On Petzal’s affection for .50 caliber Barrets): "So here's Petzal, espousing something I disagreed with completely. I thought he was dead wrong. I thought it was a dangerous idea, treasonous even, a slap to the very core values of fair chase. I even tried to cajole him into debating it on his blog.

"What I didn't do was suggest he commit suicide, or wish him a painful death, or post his address and phone number with the implication that someone should pay him a visit. I didn't gleefully participate in the destruction of his livelihood and then dance on the smoking embers of what used to be his life while backslapping and high-fiving the rest of the mob.

"Nope, despite the fact that I thought on this particular subject his head was clearly ensconsed way up his ass, I spoke my piece and moved on.

"I agreed to disagree without threat of legal action or violence which is apparently a disappearing art in this viral age. Now it seems no one is satisfied with less than the complete silencing and utter destruction of any opposing views.

"The fanatics among us (and what else can you call them?) have taken what should have been just a few unthinking, destined-to-be-forgotten remarks from an admittedly ill-informed and apparently less-than-tactful hunting writer in the perigee of his career and turned them into some kind of twisted pogrom that has attracted the very kind of attention from the antis it never would have done...if all you vociferous dumbasses out there had just shrugged it off and gone on, like sane, rational people do."


"This will not end well."

Yes, I AM asking for civility.

John Derbyshire comments here,here, and here.

The money quote is from one of Derb’s readers: “One thing gun owners have learned the hard way is we got to stick together. The antigunners want to separate the hunters, from the pistol guys, from the Military rifle type guys-- divide and conquer.”

Amen. We had best learn soon.


Anonymous said...

Zumbo had this to say on the Ted Nugent board. He registered there 02-21-2007 which is a little suspect but it sounds like it may be him.

"The last few days have been an educational experience, to say the least. My ill-conceived inflammatory blog, as all of you now know, set off a firestorm that, I’m told, has never before been equaled. I’m not proud of that.
Let me say this at the outset. My words here are from the heart, and all mine. No one can censor me, and I answer to no one but myself. And I have no one to blame but myself. Outdoor Life, a magazine that I worked for full-time as Hunting Editor for almost 30 years, fired me yesterday. My TV show was cancelled yesterday. Many of my sponsors have issued statements on their website to sever all relationships. This may cause many of you to do backflips and dance in the streets, but, of course, I’m not laughing, nor am I looking for sympathy. I don’t want a pity party.

They say hindsight is golden. Looking back, I can’t believe I said the words “ban” and “terrorist” in the context that I did. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that. I can explain this as sheer ignorance and an irresponsible use of words. What I’ve learned over the last few days has enlightened and amazed me. As a guy who hunts 200 days a year, does seminars on hunting, wrote for six hunting magazines, had a hunting TV show, and wrote 20 books on hunting, how could I have been so ignorant and out of touch with reality in the world of hunting and shooting?

But I was. I really can’t explain it, maybe because I just summarily dismissed the firearms in question in my mind when I saw them in magazines and catalogs. I saw one “black” firearm in a hunting camp in all my 50 years of hunting, and I shot one last year off a boat when fishing in Alaska. To tell the truth, it was fun and I enjoyed it immensely, but I never considered one for use in hunting. I have to tell you that I have had a revelation. I’m learning that many of my pals own AR-15’s and similar firearms and indeed use them for hunting. I was totally unaware that they were being used for legitimate hunting purposes. That is the absolute truth.

My biggest regret is not the financial impact of all this. I’m almost 67 and retirement is an option. The dreadful impact here is that I inadvertently struck a spear into the hearts of the people I love most…America’s gun owners. And, even though this huge cadre of dedicated people have succeeded in stripping me of my career, 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.

Jim Zumbo "

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you were following this internet cluster. I suppose it has been hard to avoid for everyone. I have been trying to ignore it with limited success. In any case, this post is the funniest commentary I have seen on it.

Anonymous said...

I was rocked back by the vicious use of the F word - fuddite - in this fracas. I'm told that this only refers to a subset of elitist hunters who disdain semiautomatics, but this blogstorm is going to help the anti-2A folks in driving a wedge between hunters and other firearms users. Who wants to be associated with a lynch mob?

I also think maintaining aesthetic and ethical standards are critical to preserve hunting. I don't think this makes one either an elitist or a prohibitionist. Gotta run now...

mdmnm said...

Hooray for a voice of reason!
Also, Derbyshire's thoughts provide an intesting view. I think that hunters have a bit of the worst of this, as many supported the '94 assault weapon ban. Nonetheless, hunters aware of the blogosphere or who have some other ties to the shooting community cannot help but be put off by the vitriol as it continues. As pointed out by you and a few others, division is bad for all of us. Further, the military rifle enthusiasts should recall the '94 ban. They, too, are a small group subject to isolation. I can't muster a lot of sympathy for Zumbo's faux pas or for his point of view, but the personal attacks and the extent of the continuing furor over this are tooo much.

p.s. Thanks for the comments, Steve!
p.p.s. Thoughts on the SKS? I had one for a while, thinking it would be about like having an old M1 carbine, but found it awkward and not much fun to shoot. Eventually I hope to find a deal on one of those little CZ carbines in 7.62X39 to take advantage of the cheap ammunition.

Steve Bodio said...

First, thanks for all comments here-- there ARE voices of reason!

MDMNM: The CZ carbines are nicer but the SKS prices better, and I did have this hoard of ammo. Mine is Russian, uncommon nowadays, with a rather handsome-!!-- laminated dark stock and better detailing than most Yugos or Chinese I have seen. It is (too) heavy but pretty accurate, certainly more so than an AK. I have seen them used as deer rifles in the backwoods of the old USSR (pretty much .30- 30 ballistics) and so it has a bit of historical relevance as well. And you can stick the bayonet in the ground to rest (:-))

Anonymous said...

Fudd me? Fudd me? Nooo, Fudd you!

Anonymous said...

FUD, not FUDD = Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Usually attributed to a large software company's efforts to demolish the competition by making statements about what might happen if you don't choose their products.

Anonymous said...

Zumbo deserved everything he got. I'm glad he lost his job and sponsors.

I will forgive him the day I see him begging for spare change on a street corner, homeless and ragged. Not before.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve --

My own take on this has to do with the peculiar nature of ballisic marmot snipers. They are not really hunters are they? They are shooters. There's a difference, and that's what I suspect Jim Zumbo was objecting to, perhaps in not the most graceful fashion. I will pound out a little on this tonight to load up tomorrow morning.


Steve Bodio said...

Right, Patrick. I wrote at some length explaining this to Matt but just in an email.

As long as the species is OK I can stand it but I don't confuse it with capital- H hunting.

Anonymous said...


You've posted a very thoughtful, well-informed and well-written piece, as always.

Thank you for pointing out that image matters for the hunting community in this media age.

But I think you also should consider demographic trends. The majority of hunters are over 50 years old. The growth in firearms ownership is coming from younger sport shooters.

Is it unreasonable to expect that traditional hunting values will be degraded by people whose primary focus is in using animals as animatronic targets for their weapons?

You said that true hunters will not shoot over bait. But in fact some "hunters" are already shooting over bait, in high-fence arenas, at genetically modified game animal targets.

AR-15s may not be seen much in the hunting woods now because the .223 caliber is usually prohibited for big game animals. But many enthusiasts are already upgrading their receivers to more robust calibers. Vendors are always pushing for new markets.

I don't regard prairie dog shooting as hunting either. But since policy always lags reality, I think the game departments should get ahead of this before it’s too late.

Anonymous said...

Hi there! My name is Desiree and I'm wondering if anyone knows how to get in touch with Stephen Bodio? I think we might be related :)

Steve Bodio said...

Desiree: you can reach me at "ebodio-at-gilanet-dot-com". I suspect we ARE related.