NY Times also gets Jim Zumbo case wrong

The NY Times comments on the Jim Zumbo case:

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.” . . . .

This is what I posted before:

The problem isn't that he made a political mistake, the problem is that this guy doesn't know what he was talking about. These military-style assault rifles are functionally the same as hunting rifles. A .308 caliber AK-47 "assault" weapon fires bullets that are no more powerful and at the same rate as a regular deer hunting rifle. They are both semi-automatic guns. This AK-47 is a civilian version of the weapon. It is not the military version.



Anonymous Mike said...

Dear John:

While I must confess to some feelings of pity for Mr. Zumbo, he did make a number of mistakes that no one in his profession should make, and the mistakes were of a number and significance as to legitimately call into question his fitness to serve as a representative of the gun community. I'll mention just a few here.

I suspect that Mr. Zumbo would willingly acknowledge that firearms are simply tools designed for specific tasks. This is very much the case with hunting, where firearm/cartridge combinations are endlessly debated. It is also true in the many other forms of firearm-related sport.

Zumbo went wrong in buying the anti-gun trope of good guns and bad guns. Good guns are hunting guns, in this case, and bad guns are "assault weapons," which have no place in hunting. Any gun writing worthy of the title should understand that the well heeled anti-gun lobby's strategy is to demonize and ban any class of firearm possible as a means of establishing precedent for the banning all firearms. They have even suggested that scoped, bolt action rifles like those favored by Mr. Zumbo and many hunters should be banned as "sniper rifles." Buying into that kind of obvious progaganda is hard to understand. Mr. Zumbo's comments might seem to indicate that as a hunter and owner of wooden stocked, blued steel firearms, he feels superior to those whose weapons are a bit more utilitarian and less shiny.

Mr. Zumbo should also know that the utility of a given firearm for hunting depends on accuracy, sturdiness and the effectiveness of its cartridge on the intended game. By that measure, rifles like the AR-15 are particularly well suited for hunting small game as they are very sturdy, corrosion resistant, accurate and lightweight. In larger calibers, for which the AR is also chambered, it works quite well for deer-sized game.

Finally Mr. Zumbo should never buy into and enable anti-gun misuse of terminology. There is no such thing as an "assault weapon," a term invented by the anti-gun lobby (and happily adopted by the media) as a cynical attempt to identify common, semiautomatic firearms with machineguns in the hope that AR-15s and similar weapons will be easier to ban and will lead to the ban of other weapons. Their internal writings have revealed this tactic.

"Assault rifles" do exist, but they are military firearms which fire an intermediate sized cartridge and are capable of fully automatic fire. For all practical purposes and intents, fully automatic firearms are illegal, and are certainly illegal for hunting. There are civilian, semi automatic versions of these weapons, but they cannot fire automatically and resemble assault rifles only in appearance. The design features that make them accurate, reliable and rugged also make them, to the uninformed, scary looking. Mr. Zumbo should have known this and not played into the hands of those who would happily take his firearms and his ability to hunt as well.

I'm afraid Mr. Zumbo efectively removed himself as a spokesmen for firearms sportsmen.

3/03/2007 9:42 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Mike:

Thanks for the note. I think that your point that "Finally Mr. Zumbo should never buy into and enable anti-gun misuse of terminology" shows his greatest mistake. The amazing thing to me is that Zumbo could have made such a bad mistake in terminology.

3/03/2007 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Alec said...


I think there is a hole in your argument. It implies that any weapon that only has military use could excluded from civillian posession because it is not tool for hunting.

I think a majority of 2nd Amendment supporters would concur that the 2nd Amendment is not about hunting.

I realize that you are trying to rationalize with NY liberals, but we should not acquiese to them. In fact we should remind them of their heritage, being one of the last states of the 13 original colonies to join the Union because they were concerned that a strong Federal gov't would infringe on their rights.

How far they have gone.

3/05/2007 11:44 AM  

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