Apparently, the National Rifle Association and other rabid gun enthusiasts value the right to bear arms considerably more than the right of free speech. Woe to those who dare inject some common sense into the debate over the use and ownership of firearms. Consider what has recently happened to one of their own who took exception to the use of military-style assault rifles for hunting, as reported by the Washington Post:
SEATTLE — Modern hunters rarely become more famous than Jim Zumbo. A mustachioed, barrel-chested outdoors entrepreneur who lives in a log cabin near Yellowstone National Park, he has spent much of his life writing for prominent outdoors magazines, delivering lectures across the country and starring in cable TV shows about big-game hunting in the West.
Zumbo’s fame, however, has turned to black-bordered infamy within America’s gun culture — and his multimedia success has come undone. It all happened in the past week, after he publicly criticized the use of military-style assault rifles by hunters, especially those gunning for prairie dogs.
“Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity,” Zumbo wrote in his blog on the Outdoor Life Web site. The Feb. 16 posting has since been taken down. “As hunters, we don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them. . . . I’ll go so far as to call them ‘terrorist’ rifles.”
The reaction — from tens of thousands of owners of assault rifles across the country, from media and manufacturers rooted in the gun business, and from the National Rifle Association — has been swift, severe and unforgiving. Despite a profuse public apology and a vow to go hunting soon with an assault weapon, Zumbo’s career appears to be over.
His top-rated weekly TV program on the Outdoor Channel, his longtime career with Outdoor Life magazine and his corporate ties to the biggest names in gunmaking, including Remington Arms Co., have been terminated or are on the ropes.
The NRA on Thursday pointed to the collapse of Zumbo’s career as an example of what can happen to anyone, including a “fellow gun owner,” who challenges the right of Americans to own or hunt with assault-style firearms. [full text]