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February 22, 2007

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ZUMBOMANIA: David E. Petzal’s take on the Jim Zumbo fiasco

In case you just emerged from a coma and have not heard, the shooting world is agog over a blog posted by Jim Zumbo, former contributing editor at Outdoor Life, over the weekend of February 17. In it, Jim stated that any semiauto rifle with an AR or AK prefix was a terrorist rifle, had no place in hunting, and should be outlawed for that purpose. Then, courtesy of the Internet and all its blogs and chatrooms, the roof fell in.

The speed with which Zumbomania spread, the number of comments it drew, and the rabid nature of same were a revelation. Overnight, this thing became as big as Janet Jackson’s clothing failure or—dare I say it?—Britney Spears’ shaved head. Jim Zumbo is now as employable as the Unabomber, and Sarah Brady will no doubt adopt his comments to her own gun-control purposes.

For the last several days I’ve been visiting all manner of blogs and chatrooms, which has reminded me of when I used to deliver used clothing to the local mental hospital. I’ve tried to make some sense of it all, but because the waters are still full of blood and body parts continue to rain from the sky, I haven’t come up with any Great Truths. Lacking that, here are some Lesser Truths.

What Jim said was ill-considered. He’s entitled to his beliefs, but when a writer of his stature comes out against black guns, it sure as hell does not help our cause.

Even so, Jim made an immediate apology. He did not equivocate, or qualify, or make excuses. He acted like a gentleman and said he was wrong, and he was sorry. Apparently this is not enough anymore. We now live in the era of one strike and you're out.

For 40 years, Jim has been a spokesman and ambassador of good will for hunting. Through his tireless efforts as a teacher and lecturer on hunting and hunting skills, he has done more for the sport than any 250 of the yahoos who called for his blood.

Jim has paid dearly for what he said. He has lost his blog and his association with Remington. Cabela’s has suspended its sponsorship of his TV show; and Outdoor Life has accepted his offer to sever ties. To all the chatroom heroes who made him unemployable, I have a word of warning: You’ve been swinging a two-edged sword. A United States in which someone can be ruined for voicing an unpopular opinion is a dangerous place. Today it was Jim’s turn. Tomorrow it may be yours.

If Sarah Brady is smart—and she is very smart—she will comb through the same blogs and chatrooms I’ve been reading, excerpt some of the most vicious and foul-mouthed entries, print them up, and distribute them to Congress. Then it will be interesting to see how the men and women who wrote that stuff enjoy seeing their efforts being put to use by every anti-gunner in America.

Stay tuned.

Editor's Note: Read Dave's response to your comments here


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Thank you Dave.

Chad Love

Below I've pasted my Zumbo comments from the comments section of your previous blog post. Lazy, I know, but there's not much more I feel I can add to what you've already said.

I read Zumbo's original post and the comments (before OL pulled the entire blog) and though I disagreed with what and how he said it (my well-documented disdain for the tactical junk notwithstanding) some of the ensuing reaction and comment has quite frankly left me feeling ashamed to be a member of the hunting and shooting community.
When and how did we get so savage in our reaction to a contrarian viewpoint? I'm simply floored by how vicious and rabid this has made us look. It's not Zumbo's throwaway comments on an obscure blog that the non-shooting public is going to take from this but the frothy-mouthed knee-jerk reaction that will only serve to reinforce the public's perception of us as "gun nuts" in the pejorative rather than the good-natured sense of this blog's title.
When honest and spirited debate (and/or disagreement) is replaced by calls for violence and suggestions of suicide, there's something fundamentally wrong.


For some good examples of this insanity (or cannibalism, as Ted Nugent puts it on his site), check out this fine piece of online journalism: http://dumpzumbo.blogspot.com

no, I am not kidding.

Ralph the Rifleman

Humm, well, if some of my shooting pals worked for OL they would have lost like Jim did. I draw fire, pardon the unintended sarcasim, when I advocate the AR-10 for deer hunting. My friends call me a "The nature sniper" go figure? At any rate, I would have to say being a gun writer one would be careful not to step on political hot buttons like this one. Sorry to see Jim's writing go....


Mr Zumbo made a huge blunder and it's cost him his career. Long term sponsors ran like rats from a burning building to get away from him. Now, OutdoorLife has "ended their relationship" with Mr. Zumbo as well. My question is why aren't the editors of OutdoorLife "ended their relationship" with the company as well. Seems like the editors have to assume responsibility for the content of the website and it's blogs. Or maybe it's just easier to throw Zumbo under the bus and save their own skins.
So much for loyalty.


I doubt the OL editors would be foolish enough to let something so blatantly against the magazine's position on gun rights past them. The story was posted on a saturday. And you know none of those New York guys were in the office then. Not on Presidents day weekend.

Chris H.

First, Jim wrote what I'm sure a lot of folks think. His position and influence requires more thought than he displayed. This is only one piece of literature that the Brady campaign will use to continue thier fight. I doubt what Jim wrote will do as much harm as the extreme comments that followed. They paint us as wackos ready to jump off the edge any second. With regards to the OL editors, they probably review his piece in print but left blog to Jim. That practice might change. I think Jim typed without thinking and found himself in a very unfortunate situation, from which no apology would have been of benefit. Even if it had felt like a sincere apology rather than a back peddler in tap shoes. I think Jim is a good man that made a big mistake. I alway tell my son, think before you speak because you don't know who is listening. Jim knew who was listening. What a shame.


I don't think the political or hunting community would have freaked out so bad if we were not at war! As one of the other gentlemen named Ted Nugent, if he would have said it,"Oh, that's just Ted!"


Well written Mr. Petzal. It will be interesting how the lefties react to this one. Imagine the political commercials quoting him. This is what the shooting and hunting community did not need.

The political ramifications of this write up will be more tarnishing than the psycho sks hunter in Wisconsin.

The problem is that Jim has been a respected member of our hunting community and his voice carries more weight than he probably knows.

Bud Blakney

Jim has been to my place on two different occasions. He is truly a conservationist and a wonderful camp cook. It is a sad day for the Hunting enthusiast.

Bud Blakney

Ron Blackwood

Zumbo is an excellent writer and I have enjoyed his comments in the past. However, some errors cannot be erased with an apology. He has paid dearly for his error. 'Nuff said.

T. Patrick Stinson

Jim Zumbo for those who do not know was the Hunting editor for OutDoor Life magazine and at the time of this writing may or may not; host his own Outdoor television show. Last Friday the 16th of February, Jim posted comments on the Magazines Web site, the subject “Assault Rifles for Hunters?”

Jim does not believe in Assault Rifles for hunting. That statement is quixotic and the presumed relationship of these two words is a canard.

Assault, defined by Dictionary.com states, “An unlawful physical attack upon another; an attempt or offer to do violence to another, with or without battery, as by holding a stone or club in a threatening manner.” I did not find one word in that definition about an AR 15 or AK’s, not a mention of firearms.

The phrase, Assault Weapon or Rifle is repeated ad nauseum by the left to demagogue gun owners. These talking heads would not know a 22 Rifle from a pop gun, if it bit them on the butt. Assault and Rifle have no relationship.

Assault is an act of violence. The act itself earns the definition, the weapon one chooses to perform the act has no relationship, and the act on its own is an Assault. Many would have you believe the weapon perpetrates the Assault, no; the person is Assaulting not the weapon.

Have you ever heard a report of Assault Hand, Assault Stone, Assault Chair, of course you haven’t, it sounds stupid, even funny.

Jim fell into the liberal claptrap, a moniker attaching itself with two words that have no relationship with the other. They can and do have a relationship if one uses a firearm to Assault someone, but you can use anything to Assault. Pettifogging lawyers has tried to sue firearm companies with no success. Blame the firearm not the thug, is the banisters mantra.

I make no judgment on ones choice of firearm; I don’t have the right and do not care as long as they handle responsibly. Shoot what you want, hunt what you want and use your firearm of choice.

Technology and science move at a lighting rate. Firearm innovation moves faster than most of us can get our brains around. Firearms with computers buried deep inside, shooting around corners, the list goes on.

This is new school, Jim Zumbo is old school, and that is fine as long as he understands that the world is changing. A hunter or target shooter make the decision to shoot a particular firearm, they will find out soon enough if they made the right choice, regardless, it is their decision.

Jim Zumbo made a mistake, I know him and like him, but he should have understood attaching a label to a certain group of people, leave that to the loony left we can beat them, not a potentate that the left sees now as an ally.

T.Patrick Stinson


He doesn't ever have to worry about employment after he cashed the check from George Soros.

Pete Varamitch

Semi-autos are not needed. JZ was right. You hillbillies are wrong. Next time a cop is killed by one, admit it! It happens all too often. =PV=

George D.

Yep....we're our own worst enemy!!


Poor choice of words. What in the heck was he thinking???? It is a shame to see a man such as Zumbo self destruct like this.

I personally have no problem with people using firearms of this type for hunting. However, I do have a problem with cartridges that many of these guns are chambered in. For example, the .223 is to small to be a reliable deer round in my opinion. I have heard one too many horror stories of unrecovered deer with this round. Great for varmints though!

If he had just said something like .243 and larger for deer size game, he would have avoided a lot of this mess.

The antigun community is going to have a field day with this one.....

Paul Gamblin

I personally don't think any automatic (or semi-automatic) assault weapon, such as an AK-47 or Uzi, or anything like that should be used in hunting.

This does NOT mean that I don't think people should not have the right to own them and shoot them on ranges and such. In America, we are (and always should be) free to bear arms in whatever form they take.

That being said, I stand by what I said earlier. That type of weapon does not belong in big game hunting for the simple reason that it takes all of the sport out of the "game". The quarry of choice (deer, elk, moose, whatever) has no chance of outrunning a long burst from assault weapons, and also it would ruin the meat to put that much lead into it! Wouldn't it?

I mean, why do we hunt in the first place? Just to put a trophy head on the wall? If so, then we are being wasteful of the resources God gave us dominion over.

I personally love venison. I don't remember ever having moose, but I've tried elk at a wild game dinner and liked it, too. I think everyone should hunt for the pleasure of the experience (including the time spent in the outdoors), but they should only take the amount of meat that they can use or freeze quickly. If they can't use all of the meat they take, there are programs like "Hunters for the Hungry" where they can donate the meat and still keep their trophy.


We are all to blame for what is happening to Jim. As hunters and members of organizations that have been promoting the "with us or against us" mentality, we are beginning to reap what we have sewn. I, for one, have never voiced my opinion to officers or boards of any hunting or firearms advocacy group about the effects their propaganda could have within our own community. And this is what it has come to - God forbid you should have an opinion of your own that differs from the party line. People need to remember that there is one amendment that comes before the 2nd - freedom of speech. It is first for a reason. Without it, the 2nd doesn't mean a thing.


If you took a subscriber vote, most of us would probably NOT be calling for Zumbo's release or boycotting his show. The minority usually speak the loadest and force the changes in this world. The majority are too complacent or don't understand the consequences. I don't agree with what Zumbo said but that is okay.

OL, Remington, Cabela's, etc. might be setting a cowardly example of letting the minority rule. Who knows how many bloggers were anti's seizing an opportunity. We need to stick together and have the guts to forgive each other and stand up for our own and each others' rights. Right now I am ashamed at the reaction these companies and many "sportsmen" have taken.

One thing for sure - the Internet provides instant, sometimes pre-thinking, and usually unretractable feedback. Beware what you blog ....


I think you are rigght on point. Today Jim, tommorow one of us!
Ill advised, of course, but then don't we all have 20 - 20 hindsight.


Normally, I don't comment twice. Something has to be said. For the uneducated ones that think that AR's and AK's lead to the death of policemen, I've been an officer for 10 years, and I don't think I would want to stare down the barrel of a .22 any more than a 7mm. Guns don't kill people, it's the idiot behind the scope!!!
Don't make the assumptions that end up hurting the true gun enthusiasts!
I feel bad for Zumbo,the public perception tends to get greatly blown out of whack!


Actually meant to say - Be aware what you blog .... (see what I mean?)


So I gess if your Jim ZZ or something and work for remington I guess it makes you an authority on what are and what are not terrorist weapons.

Charlie Sorsby

Well, well,

It seems that Mr. Petzal doesn't remember an editorial that he wrote in _Field & Stream_ a number of years ago, an editorial in which he urged hunters to support the "assault weapon" ban in the vain hope that their guns would be spared.

I haven't forgotten nor have others I've corresponded with. I still don't buy _F&S_.

With friends like that, we don't need enemies.

At least Mr. Zumbo didn't suggest supporting total ban of military-looking semiautomatic rifles (I suggest that both he and Mr. Petzel learn what an assault rifle really is). Mr. Zumbo only wanted them banned for hunting as I understood his piece. And Mr. Zumbo did have the decency to apologize. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Petzal never did apologize for his attempt to sell out a goodly part of the shooting community.


My opinion - Jim put the way he hunts above all others.IOW - if you dont hunt Jim's way, you shouldn't be afield with that weapon.

We have way too may self appointed and self annointed elitists among us that
think their way is the ONLY way and any one else doing it differently is totally wrong.

6 years ago I had to start using a crossbow as I could no longer pull a hunting weight bow back. I've fought a battle with anti-crossbow bowhunters for about 5 years now and it has become real apparent there is a huge division in our ranks based on what another hunter carries in his hands.By and large hunters are selfish people.

Jim is just an example of that division."Carry a black rifle? Get out of 'my woods'."

The antis' main thrust now is that if a gun does not have a sporting use - ban it. Forget the 2nd amendment. Jim just threw some gasoline on that anti AR15 fire. He unknowingly (maybe) aided and abetted the enemy.

The antis don't have to worry, we are self imploding.

"We have met the enemy and he is us" - Pogo Possum

Jim was a victim of the Peter Principle. Deservedly so.He is old school and did not stay up with the times.

His desperation cleansing by Nuge will never happen. He will never be able to gain the platform that he had before.

If I am going to rally behind an outdoor writer (which I am not) I will pick one that knows what is going on in the entire world of hunting AND guns.

Jim needs to just retire to Montana and forget about what damage he has done.. Sticking around he will just do more.

Too bad he was a good writer...

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