This editorial points out what has been lost. A man speaks out and is flogged. He simply asks for a look at one aspect of gun control, and he is a man who should be able to ask the question, and yet, he is slammed down. This kind of response is why people don't speak out. How simple is it to consider simply whether or not we need an assault rifle to kill a prairie dog.
I am reading an amazing book that has been so promoted that I debated buying it and now I am glad I did. It is "a long way gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier," by Ishmael Beah. To say it is shocking is an understatement. This is written by a boy from Sierra Leone. Enough said. Read it for yourself.
A famous hunter and outdoorsman recently voiced misgivings about people who use assault rifles to kill prairie dogs.
Everyone knows what a prairie dog is: a chubby North American rodent that lives in a communal burrow and grows to be about a foot long. “Assault rifle” is a much touchier term. It is generally understood to be the kind of gun that soldiers use in wars and terrorists use on the evening news. But the gun lobby despises “assault rifle,” considering it a false, scary label tacked onto perfectly legitimate weapons by people who want to take away others’ rights.
That is a debate for another day. The question for now is whether the hunter, Jim Zumbo, deserved what he got after he wrote on his blog that hunters should shun what he called assault rifles — semiautomatics like the AR-15, a cousin of the M-16, and civilian knockoffs of the AK-47. “Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist,” he wrote, “but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity.” He added: “To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let’s divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the prairies and woods.”
Until he wrote that, Mr. Zumbo was one of the most admired hunters in America, a widely read magazine writer with his own cable TV program and lots of lecture appearances and corporate sponsorships. He of all people should have known that “ban” is the mother of all fighting words to gun zealots. His 250-word posting caused a huge eruption on gun blogs, and Mr. Zumbo instantly became their second-most-hated man, after the gun-control advocate James Brady. Even though Mr. Zumbo quickly disavowed his words and apologized, he lost his blog, was dumped by Outdoor Life magazine and was disowned by the National Rifle Association, after 40 years of membership. His corporate sponsors, including the gunmaker Remington, ditched him. His cable show was canceled. The N.R.A. issued a chilling statement warning Congress to take heed of Mr. Zumbo’s fate. By the time Blaine Harden told his story in The Washington Post, Mr. Zumbo was professionally dead.
The paranoia and gloating that Mr. Zumbo’s name has evoked on gun discussion boards like ar15.com and freerepublic.com speak for themselves. You will find only a handful of postings suggesting cautiously that the overnight destruction of a man’s career might not be the proudest moment for the advocates of gun rights. One or two say that instead of cementing their reputations for reflexively enshrining gun ownership above everything, they might have asked Mr. Zumbo what he was talking about. They might even have had a healthy debate. But they shot first.