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Volume 15, Issue 11 ~ March 15 - March 21, 2007

With This Potshot, the NRA Is Gunning Hunters Down

Any gun goes is enough to blow your mind

To remain silent when one should speak out makes cowards out of men.

—Abraham Lincoln.

Pardon me. At the offset this week, I plead guilty to ignoring two basic tenets of journalism, a trade I have pursued for more than 60 years. But methinks I do so with good cause.

My first sin is using the above 13 words of Honest Abe, which I did about a year ago. In news/column writing, one is not supposed to repeat the same string of words.

The second sin is being scooped. A newshound’s obligation is to get the story first; no excuses.

The Washington Post’s outdoor columnist Angus Phillips beat me to the punch this past Sunday on what I consider the most horrendous happening on the outdoor front in many a year, what he called the “public knee-capping” of a veteran outdoor writer.

Gunned Down by the NRA

Now, the nitty-gritty on an outstanding professional in his field who has become virtually jobless — and unless more of the public follow those 13 words of Lincoln will remain so. It’s the story of a travesty that goes far beyond writing and broadcasting on the outdoor front.

Earlier this year Jim Zumbo, who I met once at an outdoor writers shin-dig, was coyote hunting with high brass from firearms giant Remington when he heard guides chatting about a growing number of hunters using assault-type weapons on hunts for little prairie dogs. If that isn’t overkill, what is?

I couldn’t run Zumbo down, but Angus quoted him as saying in his Blog “Sorry folks, but in my humble opinion those things have no place in hunting. 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.”


Then all hell broke loose.

Zumbo was canned as guns editor of Outdoor Life. NRA of which he was a member for 40 years, suspended professional ties with him. His TV show on the Outdoor Channel was canceled. Suddenly he was persona non grata in the outdoors world.

Like friend Angus, this writer wishes distraught Zumbo had not tried to make amends with an on-line apology. Two wrongs don’t make a right; moreover he spoke the truth in the first place.

Methinks if the membership of the Outdoor Writers of America (of which I was a longtime member), founded in Maryland more than 60 years ago, had any guts it would figure out a prestigious award for Zumbo. And promptly. But almighty NRA influence contaminates the association. Look what they did to Zumbo.

Years ago, NRA took me off its mailing list when I questioned its shortsightedness in defense of assault-type weapons — and also testified before Congress in support of a law that would ban shooting deer and exotic species of big game on farms where they were stocked and confined behind fences. It’s not what I consider sport. As Lincoln said, one must speak out.


Look, if the sport of hunting is to exist as I fervently hope, methinks hunters and sporting arms buffs must clean up their act. The overwhelming majority are safe, sound and responsible in their use of firearms. But it takes only one bad apple to rot a barrel.

We’re already outnumbered on guns issues; the same can be anticipated on the hunting side if nimrods insist on shooting prairie dogs with assault weapons.

The guns/hunting enemy is building in numbers and influence; unless we turn to reasonable give and take, somewhere in the not-too-distant future we’ll be overrun. We should be policing our ranks, not making new enemies by continued strong-arm resistance to practical gun and hunting laws. A case in point:

NRA’s gun safety program is second to none. But its right-to-own-and-use-about-any-weapon policy stinks.

With strong NRA support in Utah, a new law allows 85,600 licensed concealed guns owners to carry their guns about anywhere they desire. Even the University of Utah is banned from barring licensed guns on campus. Guns can be carried to church and to sporting events.

Think of the potential of mayhem at the University of Maryland, College Park, where there are many poor losers who sometimes challenge police in their confrontations. When the University of Utah plays Brigham Young, things can be mighty testy.

With football, basketball and other such hyper sports, alcohol, a stinging loss and concealed weapons are a horrible concoction. Maryland gun laws pretty much rule it out here, but it can happen in some states. If and when it does, the public outcry would be thunderous. Outrage probably would be the trigger for grievously new anti-gun legislation. The Second Amendment would be history.

Also, in Utah the legislature refused to make cruelty to animals a felony; not for the sake of animals, but because if it were a felony, one found guilty would not qualify for a concealed weapons permit. In that state if for some reason or other you become involved in a fiery argument with an adult stranger, the chances are about one in 25 that he’s carrying a concealed weapon. Tread softly; anything can erupt in anger.

An associate tells me how disturbing it was while visiting Missouri (with relaxed gun laws now in place) to note signs on museums, hotels and churches requesting patrons not to carry their weapons inside.

Think of the probable consequences when some nut in a crowd fires the first shot, the damage it will do to the cause of legitimate gun owners and hunters. Already, we need more friends, fewer enemies. Once the snowball gets rolling downhill even far away in another state, well, you know.

NRA and its like-thinking cohorts might insist they’re doing hunters and gun owners a big favor in their relentless fight against any new and responsible gun laws and attempts to relax existing ones. It’s just the opposite.

The majority of the citizenry doesn’t want to revive Dodge City or Deadwood, where guns once ruled. What’s going on — pardon the pun — is enough to blow your mind. Can it be that those who sit back silently and watch all this happen are cowards bearing AK47s? Enough said.

© COPYRIGHT 2007 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.