Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Zumbo Effect

Thanks to Jim Zumbo, we now have two new phrases; “Let’s Zumbo him” meaning “to act against an unacceptable infringement on our rights” and “a negligent discharge of the mouth” which I coined myself.

As you probably know, Jim Zumbo, a prominent hunting writer, stated in his blog that he equates AR owners with terrorists among other anti-gun statements. Within hours, there were over 3000 comments bashing his statement and another 3000+ comments bashing his rather hollow apology. Within three days, he lost all of his sponsorships, his editorial jobs, and his TV show.

Without spending much more time on the details, the issue is this; all gun owners must stick together and fight for our collective rights. Riflemen, hunters, and handgunners are all gun owners and must work together to maintain the 2nd amendment. If gun owners would petition Congress with the zealousness that they attacked Zumbo, gun control would evaporate!

Here’s an article that Gary Cananzey — a friend of mine who has actually hunted with and immensely respects Jim Zumbo—submitted to OutdoorLife magazine. Since he has not heard back by now, Gary figures that it won’t see the light of day with OL so it might as well get out the same way Jim’s Zumbo’s comments did, by the internet.


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United We Stand

“United We Stand.” You know the rest!

Recently, perhaps the industry’s greatest outdoor writer made a mistake. He equated AR-15 owners with terrorists. Jim forgot why we own guns. And, he forgot that all of their uses are protected. As a matter of fact, the very guns and use he decried are the most absolutely protected.

Jim Zumbo had every right, both to have and to voice his opinion. Unfortunately, Jim is not some pampered 26-year-old movie star with a liberal arts degree who thinks just because he gets face time on TV that he’s a political expert. We take the spoiled, adolescent and pampered Hollywood elite for what they are.

I’ve had the honor, and honor it was, of spending some time with Jim Zumbo in a hunting camp. He is all that he portrays himself to be and more. I, like many others, have spent decades reading Jim’s work while he spent those years crafting perfectly worded accounts of what he did and how he did it and we’ve all, young and old, lived vicariously through those adventures. Unfortunately Jim, like many others who’ve reached that level of stardom, transitioned from telling us what they did and how, to telling us what to do. You don’t expect wisdom from a 26-year-old; you do from a Jim Zumbo. Knowledge, is knowing what to say. Wisdom, is knowing if you should say it. Words and actions can be divisive and Jim’s stuck us all where it hurts the most. But, for the good of what we do and who we are, we need to get past beating Jim and address the cause of our great discontent, as even the best of us are allowed to get it wrong every now and then.

Did you ever marvel at a weed sitting in the center of a crack that goes completely through a 100-ton granite boulder, its roots protruding everywhere you looked, and wonder how something so small could have such an inexorable effect on something so immoveable? The massive boulder cracked because a seemingly inconsequential weed managed to get a roothold in some miniscule chink in its armor then time and persistence killed the great beast. The same happens with the divisiveness of man.

Ever wonder why when radical Muslims are not killing us they are killing each other over what seems to us to be indecipherable religious nuances? Does the logic of their all devoutly believing in the same God; yet still killing each other’s children over some trivial religious disagreement confuse you? Aren’t you thankful that our own culture is past feeding on itself? I used to think that there was no American correlation to the radical Muslim behavior and I’m sorry to say that I was completely wrong. The issue is not radical Muslim behavior; the issue is human behavior!

I have been involved with hunting, the shooting sports, and gun ownership for a very long time. At one time my passion even found me owning a couple archery stores where, for the first time I had to deal with the public. We catered to all the various archery pursuits and while I use archery as an example, the problem is universal to all the shooting and hunting sports.

On many occasions I had to break up disputes among customers who acted more like warring factions than fraternal participants in the sport of archery. Traditional longbow archer customers not only thought of the compound bow shooters as the great unwashed, but also felt that the recurve shooters where heretics for straying from the true path, and in turn the wheel-bow shooters thought the traditionalists were all relics. The 50% let-off shooters looked down on the 65% let-off shooters and everybody thought the 80% let-off shooters were simply sissies. These feuds were further exacerbated by organizations like Pope and Young who established that animals taken with 50% and 65% let-off bows could be entered into the record book, but not those taken with the 80% let-off bows. The manufacturers weighed in on the whole thing by making 80s almost exclusively. The whole argument revolved around what was and was not considered to be the definition of proper “BOWHUNTING.” These were fully grown men almost coming to blows over nuances. And the younger men and women were watching and taking sides; “You’re not a archer if you……”

To make matters worse, the problems repeatedly reached the print media. Specialty publications where full of the same things, “Be ware of the Dark Side.” “Our way is the only way to salvation”. We saw the traditionalists lobby legislatures trying to get special hunting seasons that would have precluded compound archery participation. Rifle, shotgun, and muzzleloader hunter groups all followed suit, each trying to carve their piece of the rock at the other’s expense.

The disparaging remarks and infighting eventually escalated between Cap and Ball muzzleloader people and the Inline muzzleloader group. We had disputes between the optical sight and iron sight folks and then between the traditional Cap and Ballers and the traditional Flintlock shooters for all the same reasons. We see it continue with nearly whole sectors of sports not supporting the others, shotgunners not supporting handgunners, and hunters not supporting riflemen. The list, sadly, goes on and on. Human nature promotes us to congregate with those who have similar interests then subdivides each specialty and nuance until everyone hates everyone. We must recognize this and consciously work to avoid it.

Think about it, there are tens of millions of us and combined we would be the greatest political force in this country, yet we fight amongst ourselves over nuance. We fractionalize and mitigate our own importance simply because it’s not enough for us to just not do what someone else does, we need to degrade and denounce it because we don’t do it. We need to mark our territory. We need to establish ourselves in the pecking order ahead of the next guy. And all the while we are doing it our enemies circle above us like vultures waiting for the weakest among us to fall out of step. They pick us, or in this case our rights, off one by one. Like the weed, they look for the beginnings of a crack, which we most likely started for them, and they make it wider, separating the smaller pieces over and over until there’s just sand left. We are doing this to ourselves. Our enemies have not the strength of numbers, the facts, nor the intelligence to defeat us, so we fight amongst ourselves and do the heavy lifting for them.

Jim’s words hurt sportsmen on many levels. Primarily, it pitted one congregation of the shooting sports against another. Nothing hurts more than the strike of a friend. The backlash was immediate and it was massive. The disciples of the black rifle took it personally. They were tired of being attacked by outsiders and would not stand for an attack from inside.

Jim’s comments exacerbated the rift between disciplines. I, for one, consider all shooters to be part of a sacred brotherhood. Whether it be hunting, sport, or defense, we are all of the same ilk. I fear that others who used to think the same way will now see hunters —and anyone else not of the same discipline — as different from the pack. Lastly, we will see Jim’s thoughts used against the entire shooting sport as his words are resounded and repeated by those working diligently to take all our rights away.

We often see those in the hunting, archery, and clay-shooting disciplines decry the rights of those involved in self-defense far more often than the reverse. While it may have happened, I have never heard of an owner of an AR-15 bemoaning the existence of hunting rifles.

The most ironic aspect of this is what it is that is truly protected by our Constitution. It’s time someone simply said the dirty little secret out loud. The bow hunting magazines won’t do it because they’re interested in bow hunting; the hunting magazines won’t take the position because they’re only interested in hunting. The shooting magazines don’t want to draw attention to the fact that there are thirty million of us with guns, so no one says it. This isn’t about hunting or shooting, it’s about the right to “keep and bear arms”. PERIOD!

That’s all it is and we need to realize that or it’s not going to matter if you think that shotguns are enough, or that bows are the right way, or that assault weapons, or IPSC are your things, because if we can’t get it through our collective heads that we need to be one voice first and foremost, if we can’t rally around “One for all and all for one” it’s not a mater of if we lose, we’re just marking time until we lose.

After the Second World War a German reverend was asked why the people hadn’t simply stood up to the Nazis in the beginning. He said, “well first they came for the socialists, but we weren’t socialists, so we said nothing, and then they came for the gypsies, but we weren’t gypsies, so we said nothing. Then they came for the Jews, but we weren’t Jews, so we said nothing. “And after a long litany he said “and when they finally came for us there was no one left to say anything.”

They will come for our shotgun and hunting rifle just as they have come for handguns and so-called assault weapons. The only way to end the tyranny against our rights is for all members of the shooting sports to work together as one. Clay shooters must protect the right to self-defense as much as bow hunters must protect the rights of target shooters. Divisiveness will only allow the weed of the anti-gunners to destroy the rock of our rights.

The thing that no one wants to say is this; our founders gave us the right to keep and bear arms for two reasons only; the first is implicit in the second. The first is that we be able to protect and defend our loved ones, our property and ourselves. The second is that we have the ability and the right to overthrow, that’s right, revolt against our own government if it becomes unresponsive to, or abusive of the needs and rights of the People. Period!

They meant that we should have weapons capable of fighting against those supplied to an army by that unresponsive government. They did not guarantee a right to hunt, to shoot clay pigeons, or bow hunt. Those things were implied by “to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.

“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.”

You will notice that only the words State and People are capitalized. Obviously these words and their connotation were of great import to the congress. Clearly the signers wanted there to be no ambiguity about the importance of the People and their right to bear arms.

This capitalization was not a mistake or a typo. You may have doubts, but consider that 220 years ago, 40 dedicated and educated men, after fully ten years of thought and deliberation took the time to review each individual word in our Constitution and were unanimously agreed to each one used in the text of the most specific and important democratic document ever written. For anyone to claim that they meant anything other than what they said they meant is foolish. These were learned and deliberate men.

I don’t duck hunt. I did, but I don’t anymore, but you can. I’m into tonnage now. Yep trophies, another thing Jim Zumbo is now against, but you hunt what and how you want with what you want and so will I. I own several duck guns and several field guns, however I haven’t shot at a pheasant for years and fully expect not to for years, but you go ahead. I don’t shoot trap, or skeet, or sporting clays or even whitetail anymore, but I’m glad that millions do. All I want to do is hunt Africa now and while I could, if I were shortsighted or overly opinionated, make a great case that ten grand for a shotgun to shoot clay is ridiculous, I’d have to then deal with my building several $5,000 hunting rifles each year that I may never use more than once, or face the fact that I also like owning and building ARs and military weapons. It’s my right, yours too, but you do what makes you happy and so will I!

I, by the rights given to me by some very smart men, have the right to voice my positive or negative opinion about the guns you own or how you pursue your little piece of the gifts our second amendment allows, but I must remember to remember that whatever you shoot or don’t shoot is your right and I would be the first one out the door with mine to protect yours. And while Jim and many like him may have forgotten that, please don’t you forget it!

-- Gary Cananzey

Gary Cananzey has hunted large and small game across most of North American and is now focused on hunting Africa. He is an avid gun collector, precision rifle shooter, handgunner, and managing partner of American Hunting Albums, a manufacturer of photo storage products for hunters.

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