Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The WAG THE DOG Manifesto

The overriding question right now is where we go from here.

This weekend we "tipped." The on-going tensions between the hunting and the shooting sides of the overall firearms market, which I have been reporting on since I started this blog three years ago, boiled over, and for the very first time, the shooting side of the market flexed its muscles.

And suddenly the whole industry now understands what we have known for years — we are the tail wagging the dog.

There were hints of this at the SHOT Show this year. You couldn't walk the floor in Orlando without a sense that a profound change was underway. The "buzz" was all about black rifles, with the new military pistols and precision rifles following behind. It reminded me of the SHOT Shows in the early 1980s, when the tsunami of practical shooting swept the handgun industry. One year we couldn't even get an appointment with major handgun execs...the next, we're being fetted and the floor is awash in trick 1911s.

There were other market indicators that were consistently overlooked:
Ammo sales — In recent years, it's .223, 7.62 X 39, .308, with the "traditional" calibers falling behind.
Parts and accessories sales — In the last 12 months, AR-platform parts and accessories have swamped even the huge 1911 P&A market.
Major manufacturer participation — S&W successfully launches their M&P AR-15; SIGARMS successfully launches their 556; more announcements are scheduled for later this year.
Expanded competition opportunities — The explosive growth of 3-gun matches and carbine/rifle precision matches is on the way to recreating a "nation of riflemen (and women)."
The widespread acceptance of black rifles as a home self-defense tool — this is huge; I'm a convert myself.
Demand for carbine training courses — Through the ceiling across the country...the shooting academies are packin' 'em in for black rifle classes.
Expanded caliber offerings — Yes, it was obvious even before Sunday that black rifles were moving decisively into the game fields. From exotics like .30-06 tpo the various .458s, to the WSSM cartridges, the AR platform has proven to be amazingly adaptable.
One point I've made before and I want to make very strongly again is that Jim Zumbo didn't say a single thing I haven't heard before from other "hook and bullet" writers. Such writings and statements are, indeed, based on an ignorance of how the market is shifting.

That ignorance is dangerous. Take a look at USA Today's article this AM:
Police needing heavier weapons
Chiefs cite spread of assault rifles
By Kevin Johnson

WASHINGTON — Law enforcement agencies across the country have been upgrading their firepower to deal with what they say is the increasing presence of high-powered weapons on the streets.

Scott Knight, chairman of the Firearms Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, says an informal survey of about 20 departments revealed that since 2004 all of the agencies have either added weapons to officers' patrol units or have replaced existing weaponry with military-style arms.

Knight, police chief in Chaska, Minn., says the upgrades have occurred since a national ban on certain assault weapons expired in September 2004. The ban, passed in 1994, in part prohibited domestic gunmakers from producing semi-automatic weapons and ammunition dispensers holding more than 10 rounds.
There is a new AWB being considered in Congress, and while this one will likely go nowhere, no one I've talked to believes this will be the last one floated out...especially if a Democrat is elected President in 2008.

Black rifles and their "kin" — .50 BMG guns, long-range precision rifles (aka "sniper" gun), "assault pistols," etc. — will be the RKBA battleground for the forseable future. It is also the primary area of growth, where the new shooters (and, honestly, the new hunters) will come from.

I believe — or maybe I hope — that the industry is now ready to step up to the facts and accord us both the respect and the equal funding our side of the market deserves. That's what I'm hearing.

That's the happy talk part; here's the ugly part. The reason hook and bullet writers have been able to get away with saying such things is through the tacit approval of the people who drive that side of the industry. That has to stop. Remington and Cabela's have taken a huge step in the right direction by disavowing the Jim Zumbo comments; the big boys, Mossy Oak, Realtree and the like, now need to step up and add their voices for unity. The hunting lobbying groups need to make it clear that an attack on one is an attack on all...that there is no difference between an AR-15 and a fine Perazzi shotgun when it comes to the firearms community; that the community will no longer tolerate a discussion on which baby should be thrown off the lifeboat.

I think we're at a watershed moment, and it's up to us to make that moment count. I am profoundly sorry that it was Jim Zumbo who fell under the bus, but every one of us who writes for a living understand that we live and die by those words we write. I was told that by my very first editor when I wrote my first newspaper article for publication in 1968; nothing has changed now except the speed at which we're all judged — and the absence of that "editor" who might caution moderation on our part.

It's scary to reach a tipping point and see how quickly things change. I believe we are now in the driver's seat...where are we going?


DesertRat said...

Thank you for this post!

Anonymous said...

Tell us what Cabela's did. I emailed them and did not get a reply. I did get one from Gerber and they still back him after the miserable apology.

Anonymous said...

Mossy Oak gives Zumbo the boot:
"...As a result of comments made by Mr. Jim Zumbo in recent postings on his blog site, Haas Outdoors, Inc. the home of Mossy Oak Brand Camo has ended all sponsorship ties with Mr. Zumbo effective immediately."

Anonymous said...


The long-standing gripe of the shooters has been that the hunting crown was freeloading on RKBA issues.

This affair has proven that the shooters are a force to be reckoned with.

What needs to happen now is to start organizing the hunting community - get them fully behind the shooters.

Because if we can pull this off, we can go on the offensive politically. Get our rights BACK...instead of fighting just to keep the scraps we have left.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mountain Seasonings also dumps Zumbo:


See the notice at bottom of their home page.

Anonymous said...

Where are we going?

Good question.

Here's where I hope we are going.

I hope we are going to where both shooters AND hunters realize that yes, Virginia, they really are coming after your deer shotgun and your duck rifle, in addition to all these eeeeevil assault weapons and terrorist sniper rifles and Saturday Night Specials and pocket rockets, and all the other snarky, propgandistic terms the anti-gunners have come up with over the years.

I hope we are going to where everybody, especially the hunters, realizes that Ted Kennedy was absolutely not kidding when he listed the .30-30 as his example of "armor piercing" terrorist ammo that had to be banned immediately.

I hope we are going to a place where "the gun culture" finally realizes its true political might and rises up with one voice, hand in hand, to stand tall upon the red clay hills of Georgia, the fruited plain of Nebraska, the inner city of New York....I have a dream.

Quick....somebody start playing Ray Charles' version of "America the Beautiful" in the background......

Seriously though. I hope this tipping point finally tips us all in the same direction.

Anonymous said...

Where I hope we are NOT going is Zumbo will become a martyr to the members of the OWAA and forever a traitor to those who enjoy the black rifles. Our point has been made, but there are other points to emphasize as well both to our Congressional leaders and to the leaders of our industry.

Among them shooting AND hunting must be geared more to the urban weekend enthusiast, not to the privileged few who either through privilege, power, money or legislative fiat get to enjoy their particular version of the shooting sports at their leisure.

In other words, we need more public ranges to satisfy a growing demand for these facilities and we need longer hunting seasons for public land use because the future with private land use will prove quite bleak for much of the country in the coming years, unless of course you are among the privileged 'elite'.

Then, of course, none of this applies to you and you don't care anyway.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

Time for every gun owner to "bite the bullet" so to speak and vote ONLY for candidates who unequivocally support the original Second Amendment.

Black or white - no shades of gray. No other "issues" matter - none! We may well only have one try at doing this as the anti gun people (who are much more than this)have been working for a century to change our social system and have been very successful.

If all gun owners do not unite in common cause and stop this idiotic bickering as which are "good" guns and which are “bad” we will loose all of them.

Walt Rauch

Anonymous said...

"Jim Zumbo outdoors" did NOT appear at it's scheduled time on the outdoor channel.

Anonymous said...

Michael - you are correct and we need to come together as a community. Also , Thank You for Shooting Gallery. I enjoy thgis show but it also gets the shooter side of things highlighted.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that shooters and the "black gun" community are the tail of the dog. WE ARE THE DOG! The "mainstream media" has painted the Second Amendment as somehow being about "hunting". Hunting license sales are dropping and gun sales are rising.

I think a SMALL number of shooters have partially opened their eyes and discovered we are facing the beginings of another "assault weapons" ban and THIS TIME we will be heard.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I hope that something good comes of the Zumbo affair. At public ranges I frequent in Northern Virginia, almost all the long guns I see are AR or AK variants. These are the rifles that sell in the gun stores. If we want to keep them, we have to stick together, all of us. We can thank the Brady Campaign blog for making is clear that they are after all of our guns.

Anonymous said...

MB: "for the very first time, the shooting side of the market flexed its muscles."

YES! It's about flippin' time!
Shooters have been the redheaded step-child for way too long.
I hunt every year, several times a year. I SHOOT year round, often twice a week.
Our tax dollars have been funneled into the hunting side of the equation with peanuts going to the shooters. The Pittman-Robertson Act has been prostituted.
"Development, operation and maintenance of public target ranges" was added to the P-R Act 36 years ago. Where are all the ranges??

Sorry to disagree with Frank, but if Dumbo is PNG to every AR, AK and BB gun owner on the planet, that's fine by me.
He is an ignorant 2nd Amendment traitor.

Thank you for fighting this thankless fight for as long as you have been.
Only if we get our act together can we work on the politicos and regain our freedoms back. If the industry and gun owners play their cards right, maybe just once, we won't have to hold our noses when we vote!


Anonymous said...

The answer to the "where do we go from here" question is this: we must work tirelessly to find creative and innovative ways to "bring into the fold" the estimated 80 million gun owners in America toward actively participating in protecting their freedoms. We can do this by reaching out and connecting with them personally to motivate them to join and actively support the NRA, GOA, regional and local gun/shooting/hunting clubs and pro-2A candidates for public offices. Think of the magnitude of the political force of a group of people of this size! We must all do a better job of banding together to fight for our common cause!


Alcibiades said...

I'm under the impression that the federal government has been giving local police departments free military weaponary (or at very reduced costs).

The article doesn't seem to know what "higher-caliber weapons" are. It also takes for granted that this is "absolute knowledge" that more weapons are on the street.

Well, at least they got a guy from Sigarms denying that the sunset of the ban had anything to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Scott Knight (Chask, MN police chief) is well known to RKBA advocates in MN for his tireless work with anti gun organizations. There is not a firearm he would not ban.

Anonymous said...

Jim Zumbo a Spaples Stockboy.
As I write this, I'm opening boxes of Post-It Notes in the main store in southeastern Wyoming with Freddie Svenson, Dayshift Manager for 3M, Grant Vennison, who is senior research engineer for 3M, and several other stock boys. We're testing Freddie's keys to his 1978 Pacer on several boxes of the new, hot-pink Post-It Notes.

I must be living in a vacuum. Grant tells me that the use of 'box cutters' have a rapidly growing following among stockmen, especially office supply workers. I had no clue. Only once in my life have I ever seen anyone using one of these dangerous utensils.

I call them "assault" utensils, which may upset some people. Excuse me, maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our restocking fraternity. I'll go so far as to call them "terrorist" utilities as they were used in bringing down airplanes on 9-11. They tell me that some companies are producing "safety" blades.

Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, these things have no place in opening boxes. We don't need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. I've always been comfortable with the statement that stock clerks don't use assault box cutters. We've always been proud of our "just sharp enough keys."

This really has me concerned. As stock replenishers, we don't need the image of walking around the store carrying one of these weapons. To most of the public, an box cutter is a terrifying thing. Let's divorce ourselves from them. I say other departments should ban them from the warehouse and showfloor.

Anonymous said...

So....why isn't Carolyn McCarthy D-NY, traitor to the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, getting the Zumbo treatment RIGHT NOW?

Anonymous said...

I think you're post is right on the money. There are lots of Zumbos in the hunting/sporting community who don't care one iota about gun rights and would in fact sell the 2nd Amendment down the drain rather than lose a single day of deer hunting. We're well past the point where we (the gun owning community at large) can afford politically to put up with these elitist snobs.

Anonymous said...

Very good and well spoken posts on Dumbo. I have hunted with a bow and dident knock the black powder hunters.I have hunted with black powder and dident bash the centerfire hunters. And though I dont hunt big game with my AR. I do hunt coyotes and shoot P dogs with it and just plain enjoy the darn thing. The AR or black gun owners on average do alot more shooting than the general gun owners. No offence to non black gunners. But that said we all need to be active in our 2nd amendment rights. And fight to keep them. I have called every one from the NRA to all of Zumbos sponsors in protest to his comments.Cabellas is in review of his contract its through a third party and they said that they are trying to dump him yay. Maybe this was a good thing in the long run to wake us all up on the fact that the anti gun croud is out there. And that we need to set aside our differences and ban together to keep out rights intact. So join the NRA if your not in it now. Vote for pro gun polititions and we just might keep our rights...... P.S Mitt Romney swore to uphold the 2nd amendment and joined the NRA hint hint :)

Anonymous said...

Tell us what Cabela's did.

Okay, Gun Law News has some Cabelas evidence.

See also this termination notice from Gerber (PDF).

Michael, I have one quibble. You wrote, Such writings and statements are, indeed, based on an ignorance of how the market is shifting. The market? Well, not to deny that it's shifting. But there's a more profound ignorance, which is that of the whole reason for the 2nd Amendment in the first place. If these writers understood that, they wouldn't need to look at the market to understand the legitimacy of a military-style rifle in civilian hands. These hoary sages might benefit from a study of the writers of the American Revolution. e.g. Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 29: but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist."

IOW, it doesn't matter a damn bit if the AR turns out to be a good hunting rifle when configured appropriately for the game in question.

Anonymous said...

I do not support gun control,BUT I feel no one needs a AK47 or a 50 caliber anti-tank weapon.

I shot a deer when I was 16 and it did nothing for me. It was not my thing to do but my son has always been a hunter and I hope over the years that I was able to imprint on his brain the right way to hunt and the consciousness to treat nature the correct way.

Mr. Zumbo has my utmost respect. He said what so many "SPORTSMAN" think but fear of retribution keeps from saying. He fell on his own sword saying what he thought. My utter contempt is all of the ones out there that are screaming the loudest because of the almighty dollar, protect your money not your ideals. Right to bear arms, yes I believe in that. Right to blow thousands of dollars every year blowing up little targets, that is your money, do what you want with it. You will never convince me that you "need" a fully automatic,1000 round belt fed, armour piercing, 2,000 meter capable, hand engraved nameplate, weapon of mass destruction.

Hill Country of Texas

Anonymous said...

The 2nd ammendment doesn't give you the right to own an AR-15, a gatling gun, shoulder fired missile, or nuke for that matter.

The military style armament of America is a terrible step in the wrong direction. A terrible dumb stupid pathetic moronic undereducated step.

Anonymous said...

Zumbo is on the money. The majority of Americans agree. Which explains the apoplectic reaction of the gun lobby.