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Gun owners send message via friendly fire?
February 25, 2007 3:59 PM   Subscribe

An editor at Outdoor Life for nearly 30 years and member of the NRA for 40, Jim Zumbo is a lifelong advocate of outdoorsmanship, hunting and gun ownership in print and on television. Last week, Zumbo left a comment on his Outdoor Life blog commenting on the rising popularity of assault rifles for hunting calling them "terrorist weapons" and suggesting they should be banned from hunting use. Three days later, Zumbo's lifelong career is all but over, having lost all his product sponsorships, was publicly disavowed by the NRA, and his show was canceled. With the 2008 election season starting and a Congress now controlled by the party supporting greater restrictions on assault weapons, Zumbo may be the first sign of a zero-tolerance conservative constituency.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (124 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. I don't think Zumbo was out of line at all. Most hunters I've known would fall in line with him easily. I can only hope that he makes a Dixie Chicks-style comeback once this outpouring of bile is understood as the right-wing bully tactic it is.
posted by maryh at 4:09 PM on February 25, 2007


Amazingly kneejerk.

Everyone has an opinion. That doesn't mean it gets any attention at all.

I've never been a big NRA fan, but this clinches any urges I might have to be interested, for fear of speaking anything other than the party line...
posted by Samizdata at 4:15 PM on February 25, 2007


I'm surprised this was so poorly received. Hasn't the GOP already demonstrated a certain laxness towards the bill of rights? It should only be a matter of time before they start in on their holiest of holies, the second.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:20 PM on February 25, 2007


Hunting Prairie dogs with an automatic rifle? What the hell? The spray of bullets probably weighs more than their victim...

Now hunting bears with a bow, that's a sport.
posted by anthill at 4:22 PM on February 25, 2007


Wow, that sucks. The first rule of writing (or whatever) for the public is KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Zumbo obviously didn't know his as well as he thought he did. He probably shared maryh's impression that the comment wasn't all that out of line, not realizing that a relatively small but highly vocal subgroup of his target audience could turn on him so quickly and effectively.
posted by localroger at 4:24 PM on February 25, 2007


he blowed up real good!

why hasn't anyone taken an assault rifle on a rampage through NRA HQ yet? isn't it every red-blooded american's right, if they should choose to do so?
posted by Busithoth at 4:29 PM on February 25, 2007


Busithoth, with his comment, represents the perfect strawman for pro-gun conservatives. Kudos for being such an easy target, and an unarticulate, knee-jerk reactionary, Busithoth.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:31 PM on February 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


anthill, he was referring to semi-automatic "assault" style rifles, not automatic rifles. There is no "spray of bullets."
posted by Tenuki at 4:36 PM on February 25, 2007


I'm guessing he struck a little close to the bone...

A typical tactic of the deceitful is to try and deceive themselves by making as much noise as possible about how patently false any subverting statements might be. For an example, let's take a look at the recent "outings" of prominent anti-gay evengelical ministers. Same difference, they're all fire and brimstone from the pulpit, but are entirely hypocritical in real life.
posted by C.Batt at 4:36 PM on February 25, 2007


I think it's foolish to think the constitution says anything about "hunting weapons", it's about bearing arms for killing people. Corrupt governments, invading armies, etc. And I personally don't have a problem with that, I just have a problem with people that get confused about why people own guns. (I'm saying this as someone that does not, and never has owned a gun).
posted by blue_beetle at 4:39 PM on February 25, 2007


Well, I think it was the "I'll go so far as to call them 'terrorist' rifles" remark that really angered some people-- especially those who own them and have never committed an act of terrorism.

So, he insinuates that law-abiding citizens are terrorists, while ignoring that people may choose to own automatic or semiautomatic weapons for purposes other than hunting. The Second Amendment wasn't written for the sole benefit of hunters.

And, almost on cue, here come the comments suggesting that gun-right advocates are all stupid hicks, and the tired non sequiturs suggesting that the right to own a weapon necessitates a right to murder people.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:39 PM on February 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


'Spray of bullets?'

'Assault rifle?'

Please. Stop watching so much 24, and start accepting the fact that nobody is hunting prairie dogs with a tommy gun. A rifle is a rifle, whether it looks big and mean and scary or looks like the kind of thing you'd hunt with. They both fire a bullet at something, be it a paper target or a deer.

It's very easy to find a .22 plinking rifle that looks just like a big, bad 'terrorist' weapon. Get over the aesthetics. Also, really: Can we drop the whole 'assault rifle' phrasing nonsense already? For a few minutes is it possible to drop the dogma and wonder objectively who started calling rifles assault weapons, and why?

The problem is that the NRA jerks get all reactionary, and the leftist partyline jerks get all up in arms (ha!) and nobody steps back and wonders who is pulling which wool over what eyes. This coming from an anti-hunting, vegetarian, fiercely pro-gun bleeding heart NRA-member pinko. I see both sides of this issue, and you're both wrong.

Don't believe me? Watch how fast my not-toeing-the-lefty-party-line gets this comment modded.
posted by ImJustRick at 4:41 PM on February 25, 2007 [7 favorites]


...target audience...

Duck!
posted by fairmettle at 4:42 PM on February 25, 2007


I'm just glad the terrorists can't wear gel shoe inserts on our planes. Never forget this!
posted by mildred-pitt at 4:43 PM on February 25, 2007


Because the ammunition for AR and AK "assault" rifles is used for people-killng purposes, usually in at least a few parts of the planet at any given time, it is available surplus for less than the cost of typical "hunting" ammo. This makes using these rifles an economic question, which is I think what stirred up the hornets nest. These rifles are still far from the small arms used by our, and other technologically advanced militaries.
posted by ackptui at 4:46 PM on February 25, 2007


One does wonder what he was thinking. He's been writing about guns for far too long to not realize that advocating a ban of any sort was deep trouble.

Still, the speed of the community response was truly impressive. Makes me want to go fake a few blog entries and completely destroy someone's livelihood while they're out for the weekend.
posted by tkolar at 4:46 PM on February 25, 2007


"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. The NUGE has invited me to hunt with him using AR-15’s, and I’m eager to go, and learn. I’ll do all I can to spread the word."
The terrorists have already won.
posted by nowonmai at 4:46 PM on February 25, 2007


Dear Right Wing,

We accept your apology. Now you understand that being inappropriately labeled with the term "terrorist" is a potent rhetorical tactic that disenfrachises you from the debate and gets us nowhere. You must see now, our desire to end the war in Iraq has nothing to do with emboldening the terrorists, it is simply an alternative viewpoint.

Sincerely,
The Left Wing
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:00 PM on February 25, 2007 [10 favorites]


Don't believe me? Watch how fast my not-toeing-the-lefty-party-line gets this comment modded.

Modded? From one Rick to another, I don't think it usually works that way out here. Sure MeFi's blue, but I've yet to see moderation enforced ideology.
posted by Richard Daly at 5:04 PM on February 25, 2007


Zumbo may be the first sign of a zero-tolerance conservative constituency.

First sign? Are you high? The entire point of modern conservatism is zero tolerance.

Why? Becuase it works. Because by using it, they keep winning

See, they figure they aren't going to win every battle. At times, gasp, they'll be forced to compromise. So, just in case, they make sure their starting point is as far away from the middle as it possibly can be, so a compromise will be something they can live with (for a while, of course.)

This is one of the many reasons that Liberals have *no* voice in American politics. They start with the compromise position, and the conservatives start with the no tolerance, no compromise, everything or death position. Thus, if a compromised is reached, the comprimise is mostly conservative. On a 1-100 scale, libs start the bidding at 60. Conseratives reply with "minus ten, traitor." In the end? The bid comes in around 25.

If you are a liberal, who is against gun ownership, the correct position for you is "repeal the 2nd amendment and ban the possession, transfer, and manufacture of any weapon capable of project a round more than 5fps." This probably won't pass, but this is at least starting the bidding at 110, not 60.

Personally, I'm all for banning assault weapons, because they're useless for anything but close quarters combat, and I'm all for banning pseudo assault weapons, because that's what idiots buy. I'd much rather have a real rifle and a real pistol, not an AR-15 or some bullshit knockoff with a funky shape and an tube on the end.

But if I have to argue the anti-gun position, the right place to start in American politics is absolute prohibition, just as pro-gun starts with absolute non-regulation.

I'm not surprised to see this guy destroyed by the right wing. How *fucking dare* he start the argument at 25? Can't he see what happens when you start the argument there? The other guys *win*.

They ripped him to shreds because that's what they were taught to do, and they know it works. It worked after Carter. It worked after Columbine. It will work now.

Until Democrats figure this out, they won't hold real power. The resolution they should be debating is not "we disapprove of this war." The resolution they should be debating is "Resolved: The authorization of military force is revoked. Resolve: $0 will be spent for military action, supplies, or personell in the Central Command area after 1 June, 2007. "

Start the fucking bidding at 110, and you might not get screwed if you have to compromise. Starting at 60 means the other guys have all but won before they've made their first bid, so they might as well go for the home run.
posted by eriko at 5:04 PM on February 25, 2007 [16 favorites]



Dear Right Wing,

We accept your apology.


WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?

Never apologize. Never accept an apology. They were wrong. You now point that out every day, every hour, for the next three years.

These aren't you village elders. These people are hell bent on destroying you. Stop fighting the war by the rules you wish were in play, and start fighting by the rules that are in play.

You *never* apologize. You never forgive. They won't.
posted by eriko at 5:06 PM on February 25, 2007


For a few minutes is it possible to drop the dogma and wonder objectively who started calling rifles assault weapons, and why?

Actually, supposedly the answer to that question is one Adolf Hitler, when he dubbed the new MP-44 the "Sturmgewehr." Regardless of whether it was him or someone a few ranks further down, the term "assault rifle" in all seriousness originates in Nazi Germany.
posted by Ryvar at 5:15 PM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I bet Harry Whittington is happy Cheney wasn't using one of those babies.
posted by AwkwardPause at 5:23 PM on February 25, 2007


What is the weapon of choice of an American, white racist, Christian dominionist terrorist? Do you think such a person would be a member, or a strong supporter, of the NRA? Does the NRA do anything whatsoever to distance itself from these people?

"Terrorist weapon" is so entirely appropriate a description that it stings.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:24 PM on February 25, 2007


If you are a liberal, who is against gun ownership, the correct position for you is "repeal the 2nd amendment and ban the possession, transfer, and manufacture of any weapon capable of project a round more than 5fps." This probably won't pass, but this is at least starting the bidding at 110, not 60.


Sorry, no. If you are a liberal who is against gun ownership, the correct position for you is whatever you believe to be a fair and just policy concerning regulation of gun ownership. Fighting rigid, fascistic extremism with more of the same isn't the answer.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 5:32 PM on February 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Watch how fast my not-toeing-the-lefty-party-line gets this comment modded."
...
(looks at watch)
...
ok, is something going to happen soon?
posted by 2sheets at 5:40 PM on February 25, 2007


Just watch -- in an attempt to salvage his career and reputation he'll announce tomorrow that he's entering rehab (ala Foley, Haggard et al).
posted by ericb at 5:43 PM on February 25, 2007


aeschenkarnos : What is the weapon of choice of an American, white racist, Christian dominionist terrorist?

Well, since many of the people got to be that way because they came from economically poor backgrounds, I'm going to guess that they ain't generally using assault rifles which cost considerably more than a plain hunting rifle with the same capabilities. If history has shown us anything about white racist American terrorists, it's that his preferred weapon is explosives. Not a gun.

"Terrorist weapon" is so entirely appropriate a description that it stings.

Really? Tell me more. What is it about assault rifles that makes them intrinsically a terrorist weapon? Remember, we are talking about civilian legal assault rifles here. Is it that they look scary? That you can mount a flashlight on the bottom?

There is nothing you can do with a civilian legal assault rifle that you can not do with a standard hunting rifle in the same caliber. All the fancy tactical mounts, slings, and scopes don't suddenly make the gun more or less dangerous (though one could argue 'less', since they add lots of weight, which makes the gun harder to use...)

And equating people who shoot them with terrorists is just mind boggling. You know what makes someone a terrorist? Using terror to get what you want. This can be done with an assault rifle or a pointy stick.
posted by quin at 5:46 PM on February 25, 2007


Zumbo overturned a rock. The most paranoid and insecure males obsess over assault rifles, not hunting rifles. This fits into their end-of-times worldview, which isn't based in reality, but based on the increasing self-awareness that they will never be a successful, happily married male. Regardless of the political betrayal or the psychological basis for this disappointment (and dissonance), the point is that Zumbo basically made them look foolish because they tell themselves, and their friends and spouses that the guns were for hunting. So they went after him. Now they really look like paranoid idiots.

It appears that the NRA has changed their stripes and now represents this fringe. The sportsmen are mostly conservationists these days and have little use for the NRA as a gun lobby, so the NRA went looking for new members it seems.
posted by Brian B. at 5:52 PM on February 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think ImJustRick confused this with Slashdot. My prairie dog comment had more to do with the 'sporting'ness of using a semi-automatic rifle to hunt small animals, rather than the issue of 'association with terrorists' that the unfortunate Zumbo made.

Seriously though, isn't hunting supposed to be this heroic man-versus-the-wild thing?

This reminds me of a story one of my friends came back from Rick Dickson's Bear Hunt with... A trophy hunter who wore their hunting clothes around the campfire, then went hunting with bandoliers of ammunition, asked one of the guides "So, how much ammunition do you bring hunting?" "Depends on how many bear I want to kill." "What if you want to kill two bears?" "Two bullets."
posted by anthill at 5:52 PM on February 25, 2007


If history has shown us anything about white racist American terrorists, it's that his preferred weapon is explosives. Not a gun.

I'm not sure if you're alluding to McVeigh (though you are assuming it's a male, using explosives... in the study? with Prof Plum?), but I'm not aware of any statements of his that betrayed racism as a motive.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:53 PM on February 25, 2007


While I personally do not engage in the sport, I know many people who hunt and are what I would consider the stereotypical conservative. They even own assault rifles (which I always found somewhat of a strange survivalist hobby).

That said, they find using assault rifles for hunting as not something a true huntsman would do. I naively asked one while at lunch if they ever used their assault rifles for such purposes and they all looked at me aghast. From that reaction I am going to leap to the conclusion that using such weapons for sport is not wide spread and have sympathy for this outdoors enthusiast for being uninformed.

Say what you want about the correct public policy regarding automatic rifles, I have a feeling their use in hunting is relegated to enthusiasts and a small, albeit vocal, subset who love using such guns.

The inability for the sporting community to allow such discourse without fierce rebuttal reminds me more of Putin's regime than anything American. Of course I must admit, such reactions do serve well to keep the party line in power and the NRA does have an amazing track record of using the political system to serve its purposes. Just because it is effective, however, does not make it right.
posted by geoff. at 5:54 PM on February 25, 2007


I'll donate a dollar to any attempt to create a non-kneejerk right-to-bear-arms lobbying group. The NRA needs competition and god knows the Dems need a way to reach the moderate gun owner that looks at the NRA and gets the same willies I do.
posted by mwhybark at 5:59 PM on February 25, 2007


Not all American terrorists use a truckload of fertilizer and a handful of firing caps. Muhammed and Malvo used a Bushmaster XM-15 semiautomatic .223 caliber rifle (an AR-15). But just because terrorists use it doesn't mean it's a terrorist weapon. Like boxcutters. Or airplanes.
posted by breezeway at 6:10 PM on February 25, 2007


Damn if only the same people commenting on Zumbo's blog were so vociferous about ..let' say...prisoners rights. Pick'n'choose costitutionalist , indeed.
posted by elpapacito at 6:19 PM on February 25, 2007


Brian B: The most paranoid and insecure males obsess over assault rifles, not hunting rifles. This fits into their end-of-times worldview, which isn't based in reality, but based on the increasing self-awareness that they will never be a successful, happily married male.

Wow, it's nice to see that your thoughts on the matter are anchored in cold hard fact and Constitutional law, and not in some self-serving armchair psychoanalysis.
posted by kid ichorous at 6:21 PM on February 25, 2007


Hunting Prairie dogs with an automatic rifle? What the hell?
I don't mean to be snarky. Automatic weapons are legal, but try getting one; there's all sorts of permission slips you need, an excise tax to be paid—and since their manufacture has been proscribed since the mid-80s, you're going to lay out a few wads to get your hands on one of the dwindling supply.

Though I wouldn't put it past some people to use an old Browning on a herd of bison; some people interpret hunting differently than others.
posted by adoarns at 6:24 PM on February 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


First, everyone needs to understand that this is, indeed, a conservative-right issue. And, just as they have in the last 8 years, conservatives turn on their own at even the slightest sign of saying something less than the approved message.

The speed and viciousness of this is what is remarkable. The pro-gun lobby is a well oiled machine.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if after he was shot, Ronald Reagan had come out with a strong public statement aimed at banning all handguns. How would the last 25 years of American history played out?

These gun nuts should SCARE THE FUCK OUT OF EVERYONE. Not just because of the obvious fact that they have guns, and lots of them, but because of the political stranglehold they have on this country.

The logic of the gun lobby is amazing.

Basically, if a gun is ever used in a crime, the gun lobby's position is that if someone ELSE had been armed, maybe they could have shot the criminal.

It's like saying that if only there was someone there to rape the rapist before he raped the girl, then rape would no longer be a problem.

Their logic is so circular it turns into a hardened sphere, impervious to penetration.

I think that people who have never met a gun nut don't really understand what they are up against.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:33 PM on February 25, 2007


kid ichorous, this isn't a constitutional case unless it's about free speech, and hunting restrictions have nothing to do with banning guns. Maybe everyone else who censored Zumbo made the same mistake.
posted by Brian B. at 6:36 PM on February 25, 2007


rape...rapist...raped...rape...hardened...penetration.

Creep.
posted by breezeway at 6:38 PM on February 25, 2007


It's like saying that if only there was someone there to rape the rapist before he raped the girl, then rape would no longer be a problem.

Um, no, it's really not.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:44 PM on February 25, 2007


What are the defining characteristics of an "assault" rifle, again? As opposed to a "non-assault" rifle? Anyone? So what exactly are we talking about?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:01 PM on February 25, 2007


Perhaps the American Left needs to take a position that "Everybody to the Right of Hillary Clinton must be taken out and shot." Then consider that, given Hillary's actual recorded positions and votes on the issues, there ain't too many Americans that can be included therein.

As far as "assault rifles" goes, are y'all talking about those chambered for .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO? Or maybe you mean 7.62x51 NATO, which closely resembles the .308 Winchester? Whatever y'all think you're talking about, the Wikipedia article on assault rifle says they fire "ammunition with muzzle energies intermediate between those typical of pistol and battle rifle ammunition" -- that is they're not much more "hardcore" than pistols. If sheer power mattered I'd be happier with a military rifle firing punchier ammo.
posted by davy at 7:04 PM on February 25, 2007


Will you people use your automatic weapons and overturn your damn government already? Geez.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:05 PM on February 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


But just because terrorists use it doesn't mean it's a terrorist weapon. Like boxcutters. Or airplanes.

That's logically correct as using a multipurpose tool doesn't imply the user should be characterized by choosing only one of the tools purposes.

The false analogy would be:

All Terrorist use AK47
Joe uses AK47

therefore Joe belongs to terrorist.

Yet by reading the 2nd amendment one reads

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Which is a right to keep and to bear arms, but not to operate them :) Curious how some people forget logic , maybe it is not casual ?
posted by elpapacito at 7:09 PM on February 25, 2007


breezeway: One of my closest, dearest friends for the past 15 years has called me a "creep" for most of the time she's known me. Also "pervert" gets thrown around quite a bit. We have not resolved down to the level yet to decide if I am a creep with perverted tendencies, or a pervert with creepy tendencies.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:11 PM on February 25, 2007


So Ynoxas, why DO chicks dig jerks?
posted by davy at 7:12 PM on February 25, 2007


My prairie dog comment had more to do with the 'sporting'ness of using a semi-automatic rifle to hunt small animals, rather than the issue of 'association with terrorists' that the unfortunate Zumbo made.

All "semi-automatic" means is that the gun has a mechanism that automatically loads another bullet after you pull the trigger. That way, you can pull the trigger again and it will fire again, etc. This is opposed to a bolt or lever action rifle, where you have to manually pull open the bolt or lever and then close it again to load the next bullet. Many modern hunting rifles are semi-automatic, particularly smaller-caliber guns meant for hunting varmints like prairie dogs. This has nothing to do with "sportingness" -- It's not that you're going to use it to fire the whole magazine at one prairie dog or whatever, though I guess you could if you wanted to waste your ammo -- it has to do with not having to stop and work the action yourself, all while the prairie dog or deer or whatever runs away after you miss the first shot.

Like others have said, the main difference between a "terrorist rifle" like the AK and something traditional like this or this is the looks. And, of course, the fact that a surplus AK will only set you back about $300 rather than the $700 or $800 you'd spend on one of these rifles, and surplus ammo for it is also a lot cheaper than most hunting ammo. Cost and widespread availability are the obvious reasons why people have gravitated toward these weapons for hunting, not "terrorism" or "not being a successful male"(?) or whatever.

As for the term "assault rifle" as it relates to civilian-legal weapons, I really wish we'd lay it to rest. As far as I can tell, all it means to the average person is that the gun has a black plastic stock with a funny shape, and unfortunately this says nothing about the power or lack thereof of the gun itself. Some of the scariest-looking "assault" rifles out there are chambered in .22, which is basically one step up from an air gun pellet! And like davy said, most military rifles (like the Mosin Nagant, which you can pick up for $90 at your local Big 5 Sporting Goods) are much more powerful than just about any "assault rifle" you care to name.
posted by vorfeed at 7:12 PM on February 25, 2007


breezeway writes "Not all American terrorists use a truckload of fertilizer and a handful of firing caps. Muhammed and Malvo used a Bushmaster XM-15 semiautomatic .223 caliber rifle (an AR-15). But just because terrorists use it doesn't mean it's a terrorist weapon."

And a colossally bad choice to boot because it was previously used in another crime. A plain jane .308 would have been a much better choice. More accurate, cheaper, deadly and untracable.
posted by Mitheral at 7:13 PM on February 25, 2007


Ynoxas, I just thought it was a funny (haha and strange) choice of words, and I was kinda wondering if I was the creep for noticing it. Glad to know I'm in good company, either way.
posted by breezeway at 7:24 PM on February 25, 2007


I think the left should arm themsleves to the teeth. Its the only way to feel safe with all these rightwingers running around with loaded guns.

Guns don't kill people, people i disagree with politically , with guns kill people.
posted by nola at 7:27 PM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


They should just pass a law that says you can have any kind of gun you want, as long as it's colored bright pink, and comes with a frilly bow and pom-poms attached to it.

A whole lot of today's AR owners would suddenly decide that home defense/hunting etc. just became a lot less compelling motivations for gun ownership.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:35 PM on February 25, 2007


The spirit of the right to bear arms is so that our government cannot get so powerful that the people cannot reclaim power. Many feel that this right is best exercised by the deregulation of any and all firearms.

I propose that we amend the right to bear arms to read, "The government shall not deny the people any weapons that it grants itself."

This would force the US military to abandon any weapons it doesn't want on the streets of Detroit. The goal being to promote the use of non-lethal weapons in the military and police force while still protecting what I consider the ultimate check and balance.

We have the technology to use non-lethal weapons exclusively in combat and in self-defense. I look forward to the day when a minority pulling a cellphone out of his pocket gets the shit shocked out of him instead of shot. It won't be pleasant, but at least he'll go home at the end of the day.

I also think that if the military used non-lethal weapons whenever possible, winning the hearts and minds of the nations we occupy will be much easier. If an occupying military killed my father, I'd want to do whatever I could to hurt that nation (every time you kill a terrorist, you make two more). If they just zapped the bejesus out of him, I'd probably just want to sue them.
posted by _aa_ at 7:39 PM on February 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Brian B.this isn't a constitutional case unless it's about free speech, and hunting restrictions have nothing to do with banning guns. Maybe everyone else who censored Zumbo made the same mistake.

Let's review. I did not "censor" Zumbo, nor were my words directed at his argument, but at yours. I think I made this pretty clear by quoting your own words, not his, in my comment.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:39 PM on February 25, 2007


Anyone who needs ten or more shots to bring down their prey doesn't deserve to hunt. What a bunch of girly guys running around after prairie dogs with assault rifles. I guess it makes them feel macho.
posted by caddis at 7:43 PM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or it could be that they have more than ten prairie dogs (or in my case marmots) running around in their fields digging holes every spring that injure their horses. It isn’t hunting or sporting or fun, it is pest control.
posted by Tenuki at 7:48 PM on February 25, 2007


Don't believe me? Watch how fast my not-toeing-the-lefty-party-line gets this comment modded.
Fuckin' martyr complex. I hereby publicly declare that I will renounce my almost-7-year, sub-1500-user-number account, if one syllable of your post is altered.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:51 PM on February 25, 2007


If MrMoonPie renounces, can I have his user number? And BTW, if we delete old, unused accounts, we'll save the server from being overloaded. Think about it.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:57 PM on February 25, 2007


And BTW, if we delete old, unused accounts, we'll save the server from being overloaded.

Soylent blue?
posted by kid ichorous at 7:59 PM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tenuki: I'm honestly not snarking, but curious. Aren't there other less target-centric methods of pest control (traps, poisons, what-not)? And if so, wouldn't that mean that choosing the rifle version is, ultimately, sport (or ecological depending on your position on traps, poison, etc.)
posted by abulafa at 8:44 PM on February 25, 2007


"I think the left should arm themsleves to the teeth"

I'm a registered Democrat, support the ACLU, and I have several firearms. One of them is a fairly stripped "California legal" AR-15 build. Among other restrictions, I have a permanently attached 10 round magazine. I have to break the rifle open to reload the magazine from the top.

Oh, and a Democrat has decided that my previously tame Ruger Mini 14 (which is in .223) is now an "assault rifle" and needs to be banned. Enter H.R. 1022. They have also decided that the World War II & Korean War era M1 Carbine is an "assault rifle" now too.
Seems that's what they do.. they call your rifle a "sniper rifle" or they slap the evil scary "assault weapon" tag on it based on how it looks.

Anyway, Jim Zumbo has made a public apology. Many of the folks that lurk around the forums that Ted Nugent runs have accepted his apology and said "We forgive you."
Some people will probably hold this against him, but for the most part, it'll probably blow over.
It really was an absolutely silly thing of him to say in print, though.
posted by drstein at 9:03 PM on February 25, 2007


So, he insinuates that law-abiding citizens are terrorists, while ignoring that people may choose to own automatic or semiautomatic weapons for purposes other than hunting.

Nice euphemism.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:03 PM on February 25, 2007


abulafa, shooting is in my opinion the quickest most humane form of pest control. I consider both poison and traps a rather cruel if hands off approach. And I abhor the idea of leaving poisoned meat where birds or other scavengers could get into it. The AR-15 is an ideal tool for this because it is an accurate small caliber rifle with a decent range and quality ammunition is cheap and plentiful.
posted by Tenuki at 9:11 PM on February 25, 2007


Nice euphemism.

Clever, but you should have saved that retort for a situation where it was more warranted. How would you have written it less euphemistically? "People may choose to own automatic or semiautomatic weapons in the hope of someday killing a bunch of people, rather than animals"?
posted by Kwantsar at 9:22 PM on February 25, 2007


Meanwhile, bowhunting continues to grow in popularity.....

Do wild horses injure themselves on the marmot and prairie dog holes? Serious question, I don't know, so I'm asking.
posted by dglynn at 9:28 PM on February 25, 2007


I don't understand, what other purposes are there but, say, killing people, or robbing banks, etc. that are anything but negative?

Of course that's a choice — it goes without saying that you can choose to do bad shit when you have an assault rifle in your hands. Why do you show reluctance in saying it plainly?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:31 PM on February 25, 2007


"Do wild horses injure themselves on the marmot and prairie dog holes? Serious question, I don't know, so I'm asking."

No idea, never studied wild horses but I would imagine they are more sure footed than a pasture bred horse.

"I don't understand, what other purposes are there but, say, killing people, or robbing banks, etc. that are anything but negative?"


Target shooting? Collecting? With the majority of people I know that own rifles and aren’t hunters – these are their reasons.
posted by Tenuki at 9:39 PM on February 25, 2007


William B. Ruger, co-founder of large firearms manufacturer Sturm, Ruger, and Company — makers of the popular Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle — sparked a similar controversy (and lasting outrage) in 1989 when he urged Congress to ban magazines that held more than 10 rounds.

One of Ruger's most criticized public statements was that "...no honest man needs more than 10 rounds in any gun…"
posted by cenoxo at 9:48 PM on February 25, 2007


"he blowed up real good!"

Busted out laughing. Thanks.
posted by wrapper at 9:59 PM on February 25, 2007


This debate is so polarized. Every time you make a comment on it, you know you're jumping into a pool of water that's going to freeze or scald you, but you never know which it's going to be - boiling hot or ice cold.

"Assault rifle" as a term has a long history with the gun control lobby and the NRA. Some rifles are manufactured for military and law enforcement use; i.e. principally to kill other humans. Others are manufactured for the purpose of hunting game. At first it might make sense to think that rifles could be divided into two classes based on this.

Unfortunately, many of the desired characteristics of the rifle will be the same for both classes. You want a lightweight, accurate gun that's resistant to the elements. You'd like to be able to shoot well at short, medium and long ranges. You'd like it to be easy to field-strip and clean. You'd like to be able to get off more than one shot in either case; often the first shot on big game doesn't bring the animal down and no one benefits from a long, protracted chase in the wild while the animal is suffering from a bullet wound.

Most people agree that you don't need a fully automatic rifle for hunting, nor do you need a 50-round ammunition capacity. But the Federal assault weapon ban that was passed in the 90's went much further than that, and banned a lot of rifles prized by hunters. Furthermore, because its definitions were so loose (boiling down to "an assault weapon is what we say it is"), some folks, both on the pro- and anti-gun side, came to realize that it could be used as a spearhead to ban a much wider variety of guns than was originally intended.

Zumbo surely knows this - he knows that to the NRA, the history of the phrase "assault rifle" is code for "we are going to ban your guns based on arbitrary and unpredictable criteria devised at the pleasure of an unelected regulatory body."

Worse, as has been pointed out, cheap AR and AK rifles and ammunition abound and you can actually use them to take game without shelling out $10,000 for equipment. This was Zumbo's point - he was basically saying "poor people shouldn't hunt, it's a rich man's privilege and if you can't afford the expensive rifle then get out of the range." That's all very well for Zumbo, who gets paid to test the world's most expensive rifles, which are sent to him gratis. But that isn't what the NRA or the history of shooting in America is about and it's no wonder it offended a lot of people.

What the hell was Zumbo thinking? I'm sure I don't know. But the NRA reaction highlights yet another thing I've noticed lately, which is that the NRA is becoming increasingly defensive and shrill. Their tone and attitude is really turning people off. I guess they feel based on their market research that this approach is what they need in order to appeal to their core membership base, but it certainly is aggravating to the rest of us.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:08 PM on February 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


drstein : I have several firearms. One of them is a fairly stripped "California legal" AR-15 build. Among other restrictions, I have a permanently attached 10 round magazine. I have to break the rifle open to reload the magazine from the top.

Ugh. I have nothing more clever to say; that is a great example of how minor concessions from people who don't understand the technology can lead to unbelievably irritating results. Basically you have to expose the inner workings of your firearm to whatever grit exists in the world, every time you want to reload it. For the non-firearm folks out there, it's like having to open your engine compartment and check your spark-plugs every time you fill up with gas. Even in a dust storm when all that crap could get into your cylinders. It's not a nice thing to do to your car, or your gun.

Oh, and a Democrat has decided that my previously tame Ruger Mini 14 (which is in .223) is now an "assault rifle" and needs to be banned.


Obviously they were watching the A-Team. If it's dangerous enough for a criminal like Hannibal or Face, it's dangerous enough for our enemies.

In all honesty, I'm surprised it took them this long to realize that the mini 14, from a performance standpoint, is no different from an AR-15, I guess the wood stock confused them and made them believe that it was a sporting gun. And god knows, that there is no way a sporting gun could be used in the exact same way as an assault rifle. I mean a wood stock just isn't tactical, right?

I want to agree with whoever it was above in the thread who said that there needs to be an alternative to the NRA. I mean, I have voted Democrat in the last two elections, I hate the current administration, and I love all my guns and the concept of guns in general. And yet, I disagree with the NRA on almost everything except for their core point of people should be allowed to own firearms.

The gun amendment was second only to our right to speak. That's how important the founding fathers thought it to be. The NRA has become politicized and screwed up. I want to keep my guns, because I think they are fun to shoot, but I also want to know that there are people out there that are working to educate and empower people to respect them and remember why they were granted to us in the first place.

The second amendment is not about hunting, or protecting yourself on the street, it's about overthrowing your government. That may sound ridiculous but it was what they were going for.

So as much as people want to hate the concept of 'assault rifles', they need to appreciate, that for better or worse, the AR (and all the effective substitutes that work just as well,) are what the founding fathers wanted us to own. Because at the end of the day, it's not about how scary your gun looks, it about how effective it is against stopping the repressing agent against your culture, the NRA would like to be a hero here, but they are now part of that government engine, and as such, ineffective at shaping policies that will protect us against future tyrants.
posted by quin at 10:09 PM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't understand, what other purposes are there but, say, killing people, or robbing banks, etc. that are anything but negative?

First, there's deterrence. Second, there are plenty of conceivable situations where "killing people," while perhaps "a negative" is better than not killing people. I can't prove it, but I'd bet a vast majority of owners of automatic and semiautomatic weapons* purchased their guns with the purpose of defending themselves, their families, their (gasp) property, or their country. The last of which has been demonstrated to a be plausible rationale since, say, March 2003 or so.

*I do not own a gun, but I know plenty of people who do, and I do not personally know any "gun nuts."
posted by Kwantsar at 10:10 PM on February 25, 2007


dglynn : I don't know about horses, but people have broken tractor front axles in prairie dog holes - they can get suprisingly large, and are invisible in a hay field before first cutting.
posted by rfs at 10:14 PM on February 25, 2007


I want to agree with whoever it was above in the thread who said that there needs to be an alternative to the NRA.

You know, it's interesting, I was reading in this month's American Rifleman. They had an article about someone who'd made a big estate gift. And they said, (paraphrased), "To those who are considering supporting their old college or university: consider that we have many great colleges in America, if one goes under there are still many left. But there's only one NRA."

Well, maybe there shouldn't be.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:37 PM on February 25, 2007


I can't prove it, but I'd bet a vast majority of owners of automatic and semiautomatic weapons* purchased their guns with the purpose of defending themselves, their families, their (gasp) property, or their country. The last of which has been demonstrated to a be plausible rationale since, say, March 2003 or so.

From whom, Canada?

Yeah, they got pretty itchy during the hockey lockout.

Anyway, I'd agree with self-defense as a reasonable justification for owning a weapon. Moral calculus, Rising Up and Rising Down and all that.

I can't prove it, but I'd bet that most reasonable supporters of gun ownership (myself included) can agree that an assault rifle is, well, just overkill, or perhaps just fucking dumb (for lack of a better euphemism) for the purposes of self-defense.

Pretty much the only reason to own an assault rifle is to kill people with extreme, psychotic measures, when there are much easier and less lethal ways to (gasp) defend oneself.

In the real world, the other reasons you mention are convenient excuses for fundamentalist Christians, white supremacists and secessionist militias, but few others.

We still have voting booths and some semblance of a democratic process. Restoring the Constitution might one day require violent revolution, but we're not quite to the point where we need to be arming ourselves like our own private banana republic.

If the rationale is that people should be allowed to decide for themselves what classifies as an acceptable weapon purchase, I humbly propose that stopping with the bullshit and handing out nuclear bombs to everyone. After all, we have the God-given Right to any Weapons we want, as God-fearing Americians. Why draw such an arbitrary line, after all?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:43 PM on February 25, 2007


Coming from the gun culture myself, this doesn't surprise me at all. Just like the larger political culture in the US, the loudmouths, fundamentalists, and reactionaries among gun owners have hijacked the debate.

In a lot of ways, this really isn't about the Second Amendment or moral duty or whatever. It's about guys who really love their toys and, almost as importantly, the love the social benefits they get from their shared obsession. In my experience, a large part of the entire social life of a lot of these folks is centered around guns and gun stuff. You take the guns away from them, and you are taking away their reason for having clubs, going to swap meets, and, frankly, having anything to do with a lot of the people they consider friends.

Sure, there is a rational and logical debate we can have on the benefits and negatives of the ownership of various types of guns for various purposes. But one has to understand, as this sad event shows, that a lot of people in this debate are simply not rational about it. It's an emotional thing, tied up with feelings of belonging and companionship and all that.
posted by moonbiter at 11:03 PM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


People say gun owners are a little nuts.

If the comments on that blog are anything to go on, they're pretty much right!
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 11:33 PM on February 25, 2007


American Rifleman. Good name for a magazine. I suppose there must be one called British Teadrinker.
posted by A189Nut at 12:12 AM on February 26, 2007


"Pretty much the only reason to own an assault rifle is to kill people with extreme, psychotic measures, when there are much easier and less lethal ways to (gasp) defend oneself."

Why on earth would I want a less lethal method of defending myself? I'm 6'2", over 200lbs, and do not start fights. If I have to defend myself with a weapon, it is going to be the kind of situation where maximum lethality is required. To me, that means high ammunition capacity (most people cant aim a gun in a crisis), and good stopping power (usually hollowpoint bullets or glaser safety slugs in .40 S&W pistol ammo being a better choice than NATO .223 ammo). I can not really afford the gun I'd want, I have a .22 target pistol instead. I could afford a surplus AK47, and it would probably be cheaper than my .22 pistol was.

As has been pointed out before, "assault rifle" is a completely arbitrary and meaningless characterization. Basically it is a list of weapons chosen based on: use in one mass killing in recent memory, aesthetic look of the weapon, presence of bayonet lugs, flash suppressor or silencer attachment, magazine capacity, and/or existence of fully automatic variants. With use in one mass killing being the primary factor.

Weapons systems (not just one weapon, but a slew of customizable options for different missions) that are picked by the militaries of the modern world are chosen not just for lethality (some of them are very poor at lethality, since wounding actually ties up more enemy resources), but also for durability in wet weather or dirty conditions, reliability when not cleaned properly, logistical supply train convenience, light weight, low cost, and availability of easy modular customization (longer or cold weather barrel swap for example). Because of these factors, the weapons are cheaper, more versatile, and the ammo and "aftermarket" parts are cheaper. Their are usually multiple manufacturers licensing the design at any given time, which gives you great part support. I think a hunter would have to be rich, or an idiot to choose a highly priced hunting rifle over one of these systems.

That said, I might buy the argument that they are unsporting because they are less likely to kill large game than a sporting rifle, which can be more powerful, accurate and long-reaching.

There are states where using fully automatic weapons is legal. I do not approve of using full auto when hunting.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:41 AM on February 26, 2007


I used to be fairly liberal about gun control (not a knee-jerk anti-gun freak, not reactionary NRA freak, either). Then things got all weird, way back at the end of the 20th century. The court decided the election rather than the people, something I'd thought surely could never happen in the United States.

I looked at the other side, and discovered a bunch of well-armed rednecks, longing for the oppurtunity to impose their ideas of "morality" on myself. As a gay man, that wasn't very comfortable.

Now, I feel rather different. Pity it has come to this, but that's the breaks. Can't say we weren't warned, either.
posted by Goofyy at 1:27 AM on February 26, 2007


American commitment to small arms - and making sure the world, American or not, has access to small arms - is killing more people around the world than terrorism.
posted by jb at 2:02 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


The most paranoid and insecure males obsess over assault rifles, not hunting rifles.

Exactly. I know why the armies of the world changed from battle rifles to assault rifles (infantry combat at ranges over 150m is very rare indeed, and best handled by squad or vehicular weaponry.)

However, if I had to have a military weapon as a rifle, I'd choose either the M1 Garand the 1903 Springfield, though a semiautomatic M-14 would make a strong case as well, but it is too damn heavy. Bugger the M-16, AK-47, or anything else with a short barrel and a high capacity clip.

If I'm looking for home defense, I'm not looking at a rifle. Too big, too bulky, too slow, and sending a .30-06 or 7.62 NATO round downrange in a city is a fast way to rackup manslaughter charges, as the round keeps going and going and going. In the 3-5M range, the pistol is the best bet, in the 5-10M range, a shotgun is better, unless you are a very sure pistol shot.

Now, there are guys who (legally) own full automatic assault rifles, which they haul to the range and rapidly pump a few hundred dollars worth of ammo through. I understand this. This is loud. This is, I'll admit, fun. I don't have much of a problem with this, because, as a guy, Big Loud Noises Are Cool. I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.

The guys who I really hate are the fucks who'll defend to death their right to own an AR-15 or a semi-auto AK-47. Why do I hate them so? Mostly aesthetic grounds, I'll admit. Buy a real rifle, or buy a pistol, or hell, save up your pennies and *buy a real AK-47* (though you'll save more in the long run if you get an AK-74. Ammo isn't cheap, and at full auto, it doesn't last.) But don't talk to me about how your wonder toy is going to let you keep the man off your back. The man, and his military, is going to eat you alive, because you're a fucking poser. If I were the man, I'm far more worried about that quiet guy putting all the rounds into the black at 500m.

A good rifleman doesn't need lots of rounds. A good hunter doesn't need them. A good infantryman *does* -- because the bad guys are shooting back, and one of the best ways to make them not concentrate on shooting you is to make them worry more about ducking. Thus, in combat, you need lots of ammo.

The right number of rounds to hunt large game with? 2. One for the shot. One just in case.

If you are starving, what's the answer? Well, I'd suggest grenade fishing, it's far more sure than assault rifle hunting, but you'd better be ready to gut and dry everything you aren't able to eat right now.

Come to think of it, the toy weapon I really want is something like an M-60, but chambered to .22LR. Rock and roll is fun, I'll admit, but rock and roll with .30-06 is scary expensive. Rock and roll with bricks of .22LR would be cheap and fun. I leave the problems of belt-fed .22LR as an exercise for the student. (Hmm. Maybe paper tape...)
posted by eriko at 4:00 AM on February 26, 2007


If history has shown us anything about white racist American terrorists, it's that his preferred weapon is explosives.

Or a lynchin' rope and a burning cross, more realistically.
posted by antifuse at 5:34 AM on February 26, 2007


Eriko, Grendel (the manufacturer, not the 6.5mm rifle round) used to make a 30 round capacity .22 magnum weapon that looked like an SMG. It was begging to be made full auto. Unfortunately it was rumored to be a piece of crap. I think a .22 full auto (with a sufficiently high rate of fire) would be fun to shoot, but annoying to listen to. I have to say, my favorite weapon to fire full auto (not that I've tried many) is the Thompson sub-maching gun, just cause it is loud and belches smoke. It is probably the last weapon on earth I'd buy for any conceivable use though.

I've never hunted prarie dogs for bounty, but I'd imagine a high capacity magazine would be useful if you are going to bag 1000 of them a day. A .22 LR round would seem to be the best choice, but it'd be a good way to get very proficient with a larger caliber weapon if you want to go on to hunt big game.

Yes, you dont really need the huge magazine capacity, but even if you ban all high capacity weapons, someone can easily manufacture higher capacity magazines for almost any rifle or pistol.

For home defense, I agree on pistols and/or shotguns if you are going with a firearm. However, Glaser does make frangible ammo for 5.56mm and 30-06 as well as many pistol calibers. If I had a "home defense gun" I'd definitely put safety ammo in it so it would break up if it hit a wall.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:31 AM on February 26, 2007


antifuse, didn't they catch a guy making ricin in his bathtub a while ago? I'm actually more worried about poison in the hands of terrorists than conventional explosives.

Oh, and everybody check out the Hello Kitty gun.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:35 AM on February 26, 2007


Nugent is an extremely stupid fuck.

The NRA is the lobby for gun manufacturers.

Zumbo writes for sportsmen, not manufacturers.

The misunderstanding was bound to happen sooner or later.

Shoot Nuge in the face Dick!
posted by nofundy at 6:39 AM on February 26, 2007


Good luck with the debate thing. The right doesn't debate, they proclaim. Watch Cheney sometime: he doesn't argue. He makes a statement, usually loony, and then sits back and crosses his arms. If the discussion continues, he simply impugns the other guy's knowledge or motives. End of discussion. They've learned that bullying works better than debate.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:17 AM on February 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


abulafa writes "Aren't there other less target-centric methods of pest control (traps, poisons, what-not)?"

Gun fire is very selective, only an idiot or the wildly unlucky ever hits something they weren't aiming at. Traps and poisons are both non-selective and will kill things other then the pest species. Poisons especially are bad because they will often kill hunters and scavengers that you want to encourage (like hawks and owls) or children.
posted by Mitheral at 7:27 AM on February 26, 2007


The 2nd Amendment gives you the right to bear arms. It doesn't protect you from a hunting columnist who actually knows what the fuck he's talking about from thinking you're a total lame-ass pussy, because you hunt prairie dogs with a weapon that even Mr. Magoo could aim correctly.
posted by jonp72 at 7:30 AM on February 26, 2007


As requested by several, an alternative to the NRA. And the reasons why it's needed.

you hunt prairie dogs with a weapon that even Mr. Magoo could aim correctly.

I'm going to og out on a limb here and guess that you've never tried to hit a gopher at 100 yards with a AK-47, have you?
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:20 AM on February 26, 2007


I see both sides of this issue...


That's what a liberal DOES. Only the Rush Limbaughs of the world call liberals "leftist".
posted by wfc123 at 8:53 AM on February 26, 2007


I see both sides of this issue...

That's what a liberal DOES


Indeed. It is both our greatest trait, as well as our Achilles' heel, and why we begin most debates with one foot on a banana peel.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:59 AM on February 26, 2007


"Do wild horses injure themselves on the marmot and prairie dog holes?"

Yes. Cattle & sheep injure themselves frequently.

And Wulfgar! - "huntersandshooters.org" appears to be backed by a whole host of gun grabbers, not friendly folks. Many of us don't trust anything that has Dianne Feinstein's backing.

From your blog link.. "It wasn't a ban, and it wasn't frightening."
It sure is in California, and they're trying to make it worse. We still have a mirror of the Federal AWB, it's called SB23. It's completely worthless, hasn't done dick to help crime, but it's still here. Legislators that try to look "tough on crime" tend to go after the "assault weapon" straw man because their sheep/people think they're doing something. And like I said, "scary, black assault rifles" are a frequent target.
posted by drstein at 9:14 AM on February 26, 2007


I've always thought the NRA's motto should be: The NRA: Aiming for you

It works on so many levels.

I wish the pro gun nuts and the anti gun nuts would get out of bed with each other and actually do something constructive.

In this thread (and many, many other places) the people who own and like guns say that "this is what responsible gun ownership looks like". The less rabid gun control people tend to say "we don't need to take the damned guns, people just need to drink use them responsibly."

So why not add gun maintenance and safe practices classes to the schools, like Driver's Ed.? They're demystified for the ignorant, and safety can get pounded into the heads of everyone.

As for an alternative to the NRA: why bother? I say we all join and just take it over.
posted by lysdexic at 9:39 AM on February 26, 2007


First, I really despise the term "gun-grabber". Many of the 'sheep' in the NRA actually take that to mean that someone will physically come and take their weapons, a scenario they alternate between fantasizing about and having nightmares about. The term is a tool of poor propaganda, and I reject it.

At the risk of commiting a high crime and/or treason, I am not a 2nd amendment absolutist. I actually acknowledge that there may be parts of the country (regions) where gun control makes sense. I don't live in one of them. Whether or not it's good or effective law is up to the people who live there. Assault weapons bans are invariable poor law.

And before we reject those laws as being palatable only to people who fear guns in total, let's keep in mind who the real advocates of 'scary weapons bans' are, and why they fear those scary weapons.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:44 AM on February 26, 2007


Gun porn...bah. Why don't we call pornography what it is? The hook is scary-looking ordnance as opposed to T & A.

Ever see the Deer Hunter? When De Niro holds up that rifle round and says to Robert Cazale, "See this? You know what this is? This is this. It isn't something else." Endeth the sermon; go thou, and do likewise.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I've been thinking of going the black-powder route if I ever take up target shooting again. I used to shoot these and have even fired this and something like this, but as "assault rifles" go, this is a much more interesting and enjoyable challenge. Yet even if you hang the bayonet on it, it's not as threatening to people, probably because it looks like it belongs in a museum and doesn't keep going "bang" when you pull the trigger repeatedly, and you won't see anybody wielding one in next week's episode of 24 or The Unit.

For some reason, black-powder weps aren't regulated all that heavily; I guess nobody believes you can kill a human being with them. But the lousy, humble 150-year-old single-shot rifle has killed a hell of a lot more pipples than the Dragunov has. Just the thing for dropping rampaging tribesmen on whatever continent, uppity Yankees, and soldiers of various Euro armies.
posted by pax digita at 9:57 AM on February 26, 2007


"Come to think of it, the toy weapon I really want is something like an M-60, but chambered to .22LR."

Belt-Fed .22 AR-15 conversion, but you need to own one of those "white racist, Christian dominionist terrorist" weapons to use it.
posted by Tenuki at 11:06 AM on February 26, 2007


good luck with the debate thing. The right doesn't debate, they proclaim. Watch Cheney sometime: he doesn't argue. He makes a statement, usually loony, and then sits back and crosses his arms. If the discussion continues, he simply impugns the other guy's knowledge or motives. End of discussion. They've learned that bullying works better than debate.


Josh Marshall calls this the "bitch slap theory" of GOP politics. And I agree, it's not about the issue so much as who looks "strong" and who looks "weak."
posted by nofundy at 11:26 AM on February 26, 2007


Check me on this: Doesn't the word "keep" as in "keep and bear arms" have a good chance of having meant [when the words were being written down] keeping the "means to shoot"? To clarify keep would have, perhaps, maybe, meant in the 1700's the actual devices to mold the shot balls and melt the lead? Wouldn't the real fear in those times be that the ability to make shot could be taken away? Not just your actual gun or a bag of powder and a bag of lead balls but the small scale manufacturing process without which you could flat out not be in the shooting business? Some times I think the actual words are taken out of their native time and we miss the true use and instead insert meanings that suit our modern goals? I can imagine a British squad rounding up all those lead ball molds and smelting tools and by doing that KNOW the farmer or merchant was out of the gun business since how likely would it have been for the citizen to have multiple shot making set ups?

If that is the original meaning then the argument now would be about bullets and the making up of actual rounds, not just the guns themselves. Seems like having the option of having a "well armed militia" supposes the skill and access to bullet making tools and the bullets being dispersed in the farming community.
posted by Freedomboy at 11:35 AM on February 26, 2007


The solution is to issue every citizen, after the appropriate qualification exam, a firearm at age 18 years old (occurring simultaneous to testing for your drivers license. ). The firearm is of the citizens choice - a rifle, a pistol, or a shotgun. These will be military quality and compatible weapons.

This firearm will imprint it's ammunition with a traceable code to satisfy LEO concerns. The ammunition production costs will be paid by the government.

Your drivers license renewal and your firearms safety renewal will happen simultaneously. If you fail you may not use your firearm for six months and then you may test again.

If you want another firearm you bare all the costs and more stringent safety and use testing is required.

If you do not want your government issue firearm you can trade it in for cash or credit to college to tuition for your self or your children.
posted by tkchrist at 11:46 AM on February 26, 2007


“Personally, I'm all for banning assault weapons, because they're useless for anything but close quarters combat...”

Clueless.

“There is nothing you can do with a civilian legal assault rifle that you can not do with a standard hunting rifle in the same caliber.”

Well said. Although I’d rather have a nice well doped bolt action if I’m going to hit someone. Spray and pray is what you do on retreat. Which, actually, is precisely what you’d do in defense if being attacked en masse. And, well, we can’t have that can we?

But yeah, as soon as we outlaw them, they’ll all go away and no terrorist will ever have one. Yay!!!

“Pretty much the only reason to own an assault rifle is to kill people with extreme, psychotic measures...”

Or if people are attacking you in a large group. Y’know, riot, lynch mob, etc. etc. etc. Even the gubbmint. You don’t get to back off a large crowd of angry people if all you’re carrying is a six shooter.

As has been stated - but to re-affirm - an assault rifle is a defensive weapon. You shoot it mostly to stop the other guy from shooting at you. The fact that it is sporadically misused to attack unarmed people at doesn’t change the fact of what it is. Accurate fire from a bolt action is often far more lethal (e.g. Charles Whitman). I concede though that there are elements which facilitate some nut opening up on a schoolyard; those I tend to oppose (eg. re: the assault weapons ban - I favor the ban on flash suppressors, although the ban on bayonet mounting is stupid - abeit an easy concession).
SMG’s on the other hand, are pretty damned useful for drive-by’s and sundry kinds of offensive operations. Those are made for close quarter combat and are more concealable. Tough to stow an AK-47 under your seat when the cops pull you over.

Moot point really, matter of time before the Republicans turn on the 2nd amendment as well.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:57 AM on February 26, 2007


This is like an editor at Rolling Stone saying that electric guitars are evil and should be banned.
posted by Megafly at 12:17 PM on February 26, 2007


Oh, and a Democrat has decided that my previously tame Ruger Mini 14 (which is in .223) is now an "assault rifle" and needs to be banned. Enter H.R. 1022.

Yeah, really. Of all the things wrong with our government, clearly among the first to be fixed must be the reinstatement and expansion of an annoying, ignorant bill that's already been gone for three years... three years in which the predicted semi-auto holocaust never happened.

The worst part about this bill is that it's another case of Democrats hurting what ought to be their core constituency -- they might as well call it the No Legal Semi-Autos For The Poor And Middle-Class Bill. Due to the grandfather clause, it's perfectly legal to own semi-autos manufactured and imported before the original ban. Thus, anyone who can afford to pay an inflated price for such a "pre-ban" gun can legally own one... and meanwhile, the poor and middle class are criminalized for being poor and middle class, again. Hell, if the new bill passes we may have people going to jail for 10 years over Grandpa's WW2-era M1 Carbine!
posted by vorfeed at 12:31 PM on February 26, 2007


Actually, the re-instatement would have to grandfather in all those weapons purchased legally during the 3 year ban lull.

And no. No one is going to jail for Granddad's M1. Let's keep the hysteria to a minimum, please ... which might be the only lesson to be gleaned from the whole Zumbo episode.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:42 PM on February 26, 2007


And no. No one is going to jail for Granddad's M1.

Yeah, you're right, due to the grandfather clause. Still, I don't like the idea that our grandkids won't have the M1, or anything like it, in a country in which the cops will probably have much worse than they do today.

And as for "all those weapons purchased legally during the 3 year ban lull", that's a very good reason to buy now...
posted by vorfeed at 12:57 PM on February 26, 2007


Still, I don't like the idea that our grandkids won't have the M1, or anything like it, in a country in which the cops will probably have much worse than they do today.

Just curious, if you have a serviceable and effective weapon that will kill whatever you need it to, be it animal or human or tin can, why do you need stronger weapons? Seems to me that some of the most coveted guns are a hundred years old.

If it's just a case of "boys and their toys", I'll buy that - but then call it what it is. And if that is what is, how do you curtail any escalation in lethality -or is that necessary?

Guns aren't bad. They are tools, and like most tools they can be dangerous when misused. But guns are meant to be lethal when they're used correctly. That makes them worthy of special discussion, at the very least.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:10 PM on February 26, 2007


My viewpoint: Whether or not you can vote is a constitutional issue. Whether or not you can speak your mind politically is a constitutional issue. Whether or not you can own a gun is a constitutional issue. Whether or not you can own any gun you want, I'm not so sure.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:17 PM on February 26, 2007


Just curious, if you have a serviceable and effective weapon that will kill whatever you need it to, be it animal or human or tin can, why do you need stronger weapons?

Because the state has stronger weapons, and part of the reason for the right to bear arms is state deterrence. The cops in this country have paramilitary-style weapons, so there's a need for something that balances the power on the civilian side.

Whether or not you can own any gun you want, I'm not so sure.

There's no question that you can't own any gun you want. For instance, you don't see a whole lot of people railing against the full-auto restrictions in most states, or seriously bitching that they can't have a rocket launcher. Yes, some people don't like those restrictions, but they're not the majority even inside the gun culture. Reasonable gun restrictions based in fact are one thing; restrictions based solely on looks, perceived (not real) danger, and/or military history are another.
posted by vorfeed at 1:29 PM on February 26, 2007


Just curious, if you have a serviceable and effective weapon that will kill whatever you need it to, be it animal or human or tin can, why do you need stronger weapons?

Efficiency of the tool, which gets right to the heart of the controversy over what Zumbo wrote. I wouldn't want to hunt with a Barrett .50 cal, but it sure would kill just about anything, unless you're hunting Godzilla. It isn't very efficient.

Zombo complained about people hunting gophers with semi-automatic military hardware. Obviously, he felt that that's the wrong tool for the job. To me, it depends on what job you're talking about. If the job is to eliminate gophers, then I'd argue that military hardware all decked out is the perfect tool. Light, fast rounds and lots of them between loads. (Gophers don't show up in small bunches. For a rather humorous take on their zombie nature, see this.) If your goal is actually the hunt, then I agree with Zombo. My gopher rifle is a .22 bolt action with a 3 x 9 scope, that emulates my hunting rifle. For me, that's training for hunting game. But a .22 isn't gonna reach out and touch a gopher at 100 yards without some skill applied. A .223 with a mil spec scope ... no problem. Training done and one less pest. If that's the goal, then efficiency is where you find it.

Which brings me to the confusion I have over the "stronger weapons" thought. My hunting rifle will quite effectively take down a bull moose at 500 yards. It would be completely inefficient for gopher, and expensive to boot. In case of armed resistance, it would be a poor choice, regardless of power. It only hold 3 shells, and it's most effective at distance. It is inefficient, except for sniper work. And sniping is not exactly defensive, is it?

In short, you can't arbitrarily decide what one person feels they need in a tool, if they would see that tool as inefficient for the purpose at hand. Zumbo did that, and I think that that's where he crossed the line. He shouldn't have to pay for it with his career, but he did screw up (especially with the "terrorist weapon" comment.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:04 PM on February 26, 2007


"Fuckin' martyr complex. I hereby publicly declare that I will renounce my almost-7-year, sub-1500-user-number account, if one syllable of your post is altered."

What do you expect? In addition to being a CARD CARRYING NRA member, I'm also a pacifist vegetarian Jew.
posted by ImJustRick at 2:09 PM on February 26, 2007


MUZZLE THE VEGETARIAN!
posted by breezeway at 2:47 PM on February 26, 2007


“In addition to being a CARD CARRYING NRA member, I'm also a pacifist vegetarian Jew.”

And you’re just Rick.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:51 PM on February 26, 2007


Blazecock Pileon brought up the old "just give everyone nukes" arguement. That's always amusing to me.

Do you know how many trained nuclear technicians you need just to keep a nuclear weapon in working order in a silo? And do you even want to guess at the cost of the electricity to keep the lights on in those places? You're talking about having a staff of at a minimum of 20, working 24/7/365, housing, feeding, and providing health care for those guys as well.

I mean, sure, we could go the suitcase nuke route, but that still requires a huge expense of maintaining a shielded suitcase, plus a reliable battery system to keep the monitoring systems working, even after you start getting massive silicon decay from all the radiation the uranium (or plutonium, which ever you prefer) is kicking off. And you thought health care costs were bad now. Wait until everyone starts coming down with massive carcinoma and thyroid displasia, not to mention the bleeding from every orafice when they forget to take the case in for it's monthly seal check and radiation certification.

No, the scale of having to arm every citizen with a nuclear weapon would simply be too much of a tax on our social system, and we'd just as soon shoot ourselves in the head as spend money on something that not everyone wants. Just look at education.
posted by daq at 4:46 PM on February 26, 2007


Daq, you're absolutely correct, but I think Blazecock was using the example rhetorically to make the following point:

There are certain kinds of speech (libel, fighting words) that are seen as causally harmful to the extent that they are not protected under common interpretations of the First Amendment. Analogously, there exist weapons of such destructive power that they might reasonably go unprotected by the second.

On the other hand, you might argue that nuclear proliferation is such that the few people who can afford their exorbitant cost do end up with them - India, Pakistan, N.Korea, etc. Would Bill Gates owning a nuke be that much more terrifying than Kim Jong Il?
posted by kid ichorous at 8:45 PM on February 26, 2007


Wulfgar, hunting with the .50 BMG. It looks like the rifles are a lot cheaper than ones that fire say .700 nitro or .585 Nyati. I mean, hunting squirrels would be ridiculous (but probably fun to watch them atomize on impact), but for cape buffalo or stopping a rampaging polar bear it might be okay. "It's coming right for us!" Also, if you are in a dingy and attacked by a whale I could see it coming in handy. I'm being facetious of course.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:22 AM on February 27, 2007


"... Zumbo may be the first sign of a zero-tolerance conservative constituency."

AHEM.

"Extremism in the pursuit of freedom is no vice." -- Barry Goldwater, 1964.

So, I'm thinking it's a bit more than the first sign....
posted by lodurr at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2007


smedleyman: [a reason to own an assault rifle is] if people are attacking you in a large group. Y’know, riot, lynch mob, etc. etc. etc. Even the gubbmint. You don’t get to back off a large crowd of angry people if all you’re carrying is a six shooter.

"Shotgun talks louder to a crowd." -- The Tin Star

I once heard a cop say that there weren't many sounds that 'spoke more loudly' than a pump shotgun being racked. Every hood knows what it sounds like. While probably none can tell the difference between the bolt-snick on an AR-15 and a Nylon 66.

Not to get all glib, here, but: You need guns in cases and places where civil society has failed.

As far as I've ever been able to tell -- and I'm speaking, now, as a guy who's always loved guns -- the main reason people feel compelled to defend the "everyone should be able to carry a state of the art smallarm" interpretation of the "well-ordered militia" clause is pure, irrational fear. Not that such fear is never justified -- but at least in American history, it's much more often been private interests than government interests abusing their ability to go heavily armed. Pinkerton springs to mind, as does Smedley Butler. And sure, Butler was a general -- but hsi point was that the Federal armed forces were really a private military when all was said and done.
posted by lodurr at 10:16 AM on February 27, 2007


Just once I'd like to read a thread that discussed firearms without having someone trot out the absurd concept of "stopping power."

Short of a large-bore shotgun (say, 16 guage?) loaded with buckshot, stopping power is a myth. It originates from the need of people (male and female people, both, in my experience) to feel potent, but to the best of mmy knowledge there's never been any research to support the existence of a concept of "stopping power" that could be mapped to the size of the slug being used. In fact, there's a good deal of evidence, both anecdotal and experimental, to suggest more or less the opposite.

The truth is that if you shoot someone to stop them from hurting you, they most likely won't stop coming (unless you get them in the head, and as Smedleyman points out, most people can't aim when they're agitated), more or less no matter what you shoot them with. But if you can shoot them a lot of times really fast -- or, for that matter, simultaneously, as with a large-bore shotgun loaded with heavy shot -- it can make a difference.

So, a .223/5.56 -- or, better yet, one of those neat new 4.88mm "personal defense weapons" (a.k.a. "machine pistol") from HK -- is kind of ideal: Low recoil, high rate of fire, more or less guaranteed lethality if you hit them in the body cavity.
posted by lodurr at 10:30 AM on February 27, 2007


Zumbo...was he the one that replaced Gummo?
posted by kirkaracha at 10:56 AM on February 27, 2007


“Butler was a general -- but hsi point was that the Federal armed forces were really a private military when all was said and done."

Yeah man. They’d do that whether it was in the constitution or not. Badges are fairly cheap to mint. Stripes and medals even cheaper. But it’s to secure our rights that we resort to government at all.
I think, in the hands of the phony tough, yeah, a firearm is an emblem of authority. In the hands of a citizen, it’s a weight of responsibility. Which, like liberty, is why so many fear it.

“Better to die on one's feet than to live on one's knees.” - (Emiliano Zapata, 1910, Dolores Ibarruri, 1936, Albert Camus, 1951, Joseph Heller, 1961, Mordechai Anielewicz warsaw ghetto 1943, Lemmy Kilminster “Bastards” 1993)


“Zumbo...was he the one that replaced Gummo?” - posted by kirkaracha

*Bud Abbot impression* No, you idiot! You’re thinking of the candy bears. This is the elephant that flies.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:26 PM on February 27, 2007


I apologize, by the way - it never occurred to me before yesterday that you might have some special feelings about Smedley Butler.
posted by lodurr at 7:06 AM on February 28, 2007


lodurr, stopping power is not a myth, but there are plenty of myths related to it. Depending on which study of terminal ballistics you believe, a very fast moving round (rifle implied here) can create enough hydrostatic shock to stun or instantly kill someone even if no vital organs are directly hit. The caliber of the round is not the primary issue. Also, hollowpoint or frangible rounds deliver more of their energy into the target. The 10mm got a bad rep partly because it has so much recoil, but also because it supposedly overpenetrates the target and delivers less energy. Anyone who hunts boar or cape buffalo either has a round with stopping power, or they are likely to die.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:00 AM on February 28, 2007


“...special feelings about Smedley Butler.”
posted by lodurr

No apology necessary. I think you were fairly accurate. It’s not hallowed ground and I’m no sacred cow (or chao).
posted by Smedleyman at 3:15 PM on February 28, 2007


BrotherCaine, you clearly define "stopping power" quite differently from most people with whom I've discussed it. But still, I think you're probably missing the point.

Real-world evidence suggests that people don't get stopped by bullets in the way that the "myth of stopping power" implies. When gun-nuts talk about stopping power, they're talking about the ability of a weapon to drop someone in his/her tracks. Well, I'm just saying: That's not the weapon, not mostly. It's the shooter.

Your big game example is interesting, but it also pretty much goes to my point: You're talking about rounds that penetrate appropriately and do lethal damage to the animal. You don't hunt Cape Buffalo or boar at 15-20 feet, you do it from a standoff distance and you have enough time for the bullets to kill them. Most handgun shootings, by contrast -- at least, in person-to-person combat, not drive-by shootings -- are at pretty close range. The person has the opportunity to close with you and kill you before the fact that you've "killed" them catches up with them physiologically.

So, yeah, you're right: It's not a "myth" if it's not a myth -- if the people using the term have a very precise understanding of what it means. But hardly any of them do. That pretty much makes it a myth.
posted by lodurr at 9:18 AM on March 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


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