It has been eight years since successful outdoors personality and big game hunter Jim Zumbo spoke out against military style weapons for hunting. “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 wrote on a blog. “We don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them.”
Who remembers what happened? Zumbo was called a “turncoat” who has “put a stake in our hearts” by gun advocates and stripped almost overnight of his weekly TV show on the Outdoors network and position as hunting editor with Outdoor Life magazine. Zumbo’s show were restored only after he flew to NRA board member Ted Nugent’s Texas ranch to learn the beauty of so-called “black rifles,” for hunting animals.
Zumbo even issued an unctuous recantation. “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,” he vowed. “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.” In the words of George Orwell, Zumbo loved Big Brother, too.
Flash forward to 2013 when a call for mandatory gun-owner training in the magazine Guns & Ammo also activated the NRA’s Taliban wing. Why? Requiring training for people walking around with lethal weapons is a clear violation of “gun rights.” Within hours contributing editor Dick Metcalf was terminated and the magazine’s editor Jim Bequette resigned. “The government should not deem it necessary to micromanage the citizen exercise of essential rights,” an NRA quote on the Wisconsin Gun Owners website clarifies.
Last year after initially terming Texas open carry hooligans who mass together, intimidating the public “downright weird” and not a “practical” way “to defend yourself,” the NRA reversed itself. The condemnation was “a mistake” and” shouldn’t have happened,” said NRA’s Chris Cox, adding “our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners.”
The NRA was not always the gun extremist group with strong white power overtones it is today. (NRA board member Ted Nugent wears a Confederate Flag when performing, for example.) It was known for promoting marksmanship and gun safety–not prepping for an upcoming showdown with the government. In the 1930’s, NRA President Karl T. Frederick even said, “I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”
In 1967, California Gov. Ronald Reagan, an NRA member, proclaimed “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons,” when 24 Black Panther Party members walked into the California Statehouse legally carrying rifles. Imagine what would happen if a politician and NRA member made a statement like that today.
Do you work for or patronize any of these top companies? Tell them to get off the sidelines and take a stand for gun safety.