Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ray Schoenke on Zumbo and the NRA

You may not know who Ray Schoenke is, so here's the 411. Ray Schoenke is the President of the AHSA, a shill organization for The Brady Campaign and their ilk. They pretend to be a hunters organization and are emblematic of the anti's attempts to drive a wedge between different types of gun owners; attempting to destroy our second amendment rights, one group at a time.

Today, I had the displeasure of reading an opinion piece by him in The Seattle Times where he uses the Zumbo affair to urge hunters to "Stand Up" to the NRA. Below is my fisking, for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Real hunters and shooters need to stand up to the NRA

By Ray Schoenke
Special to The Times

BEFORE today's presidential candidates go courting the National Rifle Association for support (witness Mitt Romney's sudden enrollment), they should be aware of the case of Jim Zumbo. One of nation's most famous and respected hunting and outdoors journalists, Zumbo was professionally assassinated by NRA hysteria for simply uttering a single and — many hunters would say — reasonable point of view.
In point of fact Mr. Schoenke, it was the gun owners themselves who were his undoing, not the NRA. From the time line I have, the NRA didn't even issue a statement on the matter until six days had passed. Numerous sponsors, including Remington and Gerber had already jumped ship at that point. Your assertion that it was the NRA who were his downfall just doesn't hold water. Also, Jim Zumbo himself has stated numerous times since then that "I was wrong - big time." He also goes on to say "The Second Amendment, which guarantees us the right to keep and bear arms, has nothing to do with hunting, but everything to do with gun ownership." What's that Ray? ...crickets from Ray Schoenke's corner.

Returning from a weekend hunting trip in which he witnessed people using semiautomatic, military-style weapons to hunt varmints, Zumbo dashed off a column for his blog on Outdoor Life in which he played devil's advocate, suggesting these weapons are not appropriate for hunting.
Ray, that's just not true, and you know it. He did not witness these rifles being used to hunt varmints and he wasn't playing devils advocate. He heard from some of the people he was with about them. Incidentally, you know those sniper, I mean, "hunting" rifles you profess to love so much? All of today's "hunting" rifles are the end result of military-style weapons that have been turned into "hunting" rifles after the fact. For instance, the .30-06 cartridge was not developed for hunting, but you knew that, right?

The reaction was swift — and brutal. The NRA whipped up a frenzy on the blogosphere, where a rabid fringe element of the hunting community denounced Zumbo in the harshest terms, even attacking his patriotism. Bowing to the intense pressure, Outdoor Life magazine fired Zumbo from his writing job, where he had won a huge following. The gun-company sponsors of Zumbo's highly rated weekly television show promptly pulled their support, thus killing the program. The NRA very publicly suspended all ties with Zumbo and cited the incident as a warning to anyone — "even fellow gun owners" — who might cross its powerful lobby.
Again Ray, that's just not true. As previously stated, the NRA didn't get it's butt into gear until six days had passed and they knew which way the wind was blowing. Blaming Zumbo's undoing on a "rabid fringe element" is just being divisive, but you already knew that, didn't you. In matter of fact, since hunters only make up 18 million out of 80 million gun owners in The United States, which group are you calling a "fringe" anyway? Your illogical and false attack on the gun owners and the NRA is showing your true colors. Be careful Ray, your bias is showing.

This incident is regrettable not only because it publicly humiliated an honorable sportsman, but also because it suggests that hunters and shooters are vindictive, close-minded zealots. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hunters and shooters are passionate about the Second Amendment, but we are not fascists. We recognize that reasonable people can disagree on reasonable issues.

For instance, in a 2003 hunters poll by Field & Stream, the majority of hunters (67 percent) considered assault-styled rifles as not legitimate sporting arms. The NRA knows this, which is why it moved so quickly to preempt any debate — and threaten any sportsman who dared express another opinion.
Yes people have the right to disagree, but Zumbo didn't just say that he didn't like AR15 type rifles. He called them "terrorist rifles" and called for their "banning". Maybe you're different Ray, but if someone called me a terrorist and called for the banning of a legally owned firearm, based on it's LOOKS alone, yeah, I'd be pretty pissed. Face it, the only real difference between an AR15 and a sniper, sorry, "hunting" rifle, is the looks and what material it's made of. A semi-automatic firearm functions the same no matter the cosmetics. That poll you site by Field & Stream lists 67% of Field & Stream subscribers considered "assault-styled" (you even admit it) rifles as not legitimate sporting arms. According to Field & Stream, their current readership is 9,991,000. So, 67% of 9,991,000 is 6,693,970 subscribers, or an estimated 8.37% of American gun owners. That leaves 91.63% of American gun owners, hardly a fringe element.

When the NRA can destroy a man like Zumbo for making a single observation that is actually embraced by a majority of sportsmen, it's time for all genuine sportsmen and women to ask a few basic questions:

If the NRA's leaders can turn on a hunting legend like Zumbo simply for engaging in a reasonable and rational discussion of a growing issue, what can they do to you and me? Is this the type of organization sportsmen should look to for leadership? Is this the organization political candidates should cozy up to?

Hunters and shooters stand for the freedoms on which this country was built — freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to own a gun. We do not need a new brand of NRA "McCarthyism," or a loyalty oath for those involved in the outdoor world.
What do you consider a "genuine" sportsman or sportswoman? Are they as close minded as you? Are they those 8.37% of American gun owners who "considered assault-styled rifles as not legitimate sporting arms"? I don't know if you're aware of it Ray, but Zumbo has made a 180 and freely admits the ignorance and prejudice he had. He even goes on to dedicate his influence in the hunting community to education about these "assault-style" rifles, and support for the second amendment. The second amendment, by the way, doesn't mention hunting at all, but it does mention the right of THE PEOPLE to keep and bear arms. I suggest you read it, and the whole bill of rights, if you have the time. ...and again Ray, it wasn't the NRA who went after Zumbo, it was outraged gun owners whom he had called "terrorists". In actuality, since it wasn't the NRA who brought down Zumbo, the whole basis for your essay is invalid. Let me ask you something Ray, if hunters stand for the freedoms on which this country was built, do you support someones right to own an "assault-style" rifle and hunt with it if they want to? Think before you answer that question. Remember, that sweet scoped Remington 700 bolt action in .30-06 propped up in your gun safe was once a "sniper" rifle.

We need more freedom, not less. We need to unite behind what binds us together — not demonize anyone who offers a different viewpoint. As we fight to defend the Second Amendment, we also need to fight for access to and conservation of public lands.

The NRA has turned its back on these goals — and on basic matters of public safety. Along with the right of gun ownership comes a basic civic responsibility to support law enforcement and keep our communities safe. Criminals and terrorists do not have a constitutional right to own a gun, but you would never know that listening to today's NRA leadership.

There is common ground to be found among those of us who are staunch defenders of the Second Amendment and policy makers and police chiefs who seek to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Although we will disagree on some issues, unlike the NRA's leaders, most hunters and shooters are not afraid of the dialogue; we believe in the First Amendment as well as the Second.
I agree, we need more freedom, not less. So why are you demonizing the NRA, and people who own "assault-style" rifles, based solely on their looks? Why would you throw one group of gun owners out of the life raft in the hopes that the sharks will eat you last? United we stand Ray, divided we fall. I submit Ray, that it is you who have turned your back on the second amendment and not the NRA. I have never once heard the NRA not support law enforcement and work to keep our communities safe. It was the NRA after all who devised most of today's training for law enforcement and ironically, hunter education. It was the NRA who developed the Eddie Eagle child gun education/safety course that has educated and made safe millions of American children. And Ray, as much as you'd like to believe so, the NRA doesn't support the right of criminals or terrorists to own guns. Hyperbole doesn't make it so. I, and every gun owner I know believes in not only the first and second amendments, but the entire bill of rights. There is common ground here, but no room for prejudice and bigotry. There is an opportunity for a dialog here, but leave your baggage at the door.

The character assassination of Jim Zumbo — whether you agree or disagree with him — is an outrage. The attacks on his patriotism were un-American. And the silencing of legitimate debate is the latest evidence that the NRA puts its own political power over the interests of its members.

Hunters and shooters don't like to be bullied, silenced or sold out. But that's what has happened. We cannot let it pass. The Zumbo case is a call to arms for every hunter and outdoorsman. Let's raise our rifles in defense of our freedoms, and speak out against any body — whether government or the NRA — that stifles honest discussion
Jim Zumbo did it to himself. To quote Tamara, "On Friday evening, a gun writer who was apparently tired of his 42-year career put his word processor in his mouth and pulled the trigger." Remember Ray, everyone has the freedom of speech, but no one has the guarantee of an audience. ...and again (I'm tiring of reminding you now.) the NRA was the last one to the party. By the time the NRA issued their statement severing all ties with Jim Zumbo, it was already all over for him. Gun owners don't like to be bullied, silenced or sold out. Perhaps that is why they reacted as angrily as they did? I agree, we cannot let this pass. You would see everyone except you disarmed to save your precious sniper, "hunting" rifles and shotguns. A shotgun, by the way, as witnessed by the Utah Trolley Square Mall and Seattle Capitol Hill massacre, is much more effective at killing people than any so called "assault-weapon" could ever be. Guess what, after they come for us, they're coming for you.

Just as the founding fathers guaranteed our right to keep and bear arms, against all enemies, foreign or domestic, we will raise our arms in defense of all those who would see us stripped of our God given rights.