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02/20/2007 Archived Entry: "Jim Zumbo: Companies doing the right thing"

DOING THE RIGHT THING. If you're a gun person, you probably know all about this weekend's Jim Zumbo flap.

Mr. Famous Outdoorsman, who's been writing about guns and hunting for 42 years, spewed forth an ignorant blurt about "terrorist assault rifles" that put him straight into the Brady camp. After several thousand howls of protest, he followed up with an alleged apology that made matters even worse. Said apology never actually apologized for calling millions of us "terrorists." It simply said (I paraphrase): a) I was having a bad day, b) Ted Nugent's still willing to hunt with me, c) how can you hate me when I'm a member of the NRA?, d) how can you question my patriotism when I fly my American flag every day?, e) I help disabled veterans, and f) if you hunt or shoot, I'm the very best friend you could possibly have.

Seriously. Our Very Best Friend. Never mind that he still believes we're all "terrorists." Never mind that the Brady campaign had already picked up his words and was busily battering us with them. (The link above will take you to all parts of the Zumbo fumble. The original blog entries and the thousands of comments they generated are gone -- more below on that -- but Google still has them in cache. Here's the cached version of Zumbo's original screed. Here's the cache of his self-serving non-apology.)

This arrogant ass sold out millions of gun owners -- sold out freedom itself -- and did it without apparently the slightest concern or understanding that he was, as one commentator put it, "deliberately poking a hole in the life raft we're all floating in."

But this isn't about Zumbo. This is about the companies that made Zumbo possible. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

REMINGTON. I was impressed with Remington -- big time. The Sunday night that Zumbo's sponsors and publisher were being buried in thousands of protest emails, I received a response from Remington's CEO, Tommy Millner, saying his company was already cutting Zumbo loose.

At first I didn't believe the message was actually from Millner; there was some question whether the email address circulating for him was accurate. And after all, how many times have you ever written to the head of a big company and actually gotten a personal repsonse from him? Never, right? Well, make that "at least once." Turns out Millner was in Europe, where he was taking the time to respond to that enormous barrage of mail on his Blackberry.

Now that's impressive.

By Monday morning, still on the holiday weekend, Remington had officially announced it was severing all ties with Zumbo. No ifs, ands, or buts.

GERBER. The blade maker, another Zumbo sponsor, was the next one I heard from. I guess a knife-maker thinks it has less at stake than a firearms manufacturer. Zumbo's sell-out of the Second is no big deal to them. Maybe the Gerberites figure that after "they" come for the guns, Gerber will be able to sell more knives -- for a while.

In any case, a flack sent a carefully innocuous piece of PR spam stating, "...we respect the opinion of our sponsored hunters and users however, we do not necessarily agree with all their opinions, nor do we endorse their public statements. Our presence and development in the tactical and hunting markets is proof-positive we are committed to supporting these industries and all those involved."

Bleah. To add to the unimpressive impression, the flack pointed to Zumbo's "apology" as though it meant something, even though my original message was headed "Zumbo's apology isn't enough."

Well. No more Gerber knives in my future. How about yours?

HI MOUNTAIN SEASONINGS. The Wyoming-based vendor of jerky- and sausage-making products gets my Shining Light Award. They had already announced on their web site that they were severing any relationship with Zumbo when I wrote to thank them. Hans Hummel and his wife Kimberly own the company that -- until today -- helped keep Zumbo's Outdoor Network TV show on the air. They even feature Zumbo on their packaging. Hans sent both his company's official response and a heartfelt personal one.

Here's the official word:

Dear Fellow 2nd Amendment Supporters:

I am writing to thank all of you for your activism in making us aware of the comments made on Mr. Zumbo’s blog. Hi Mountain Jerky and Seasoning has been a sponsor of his hunting show on the Outdoor Channel, but is in the process of terminating our relationship. We do not support his statements regarding his view of the Second Amendment and would not have supported the show or had his endorsement on our packaging in the past had we known this. We fully stand behind the individual right to keep and bear arms as our Founding Fathers intended. It is truly heartwarming to see the grass roots activism in support of our Second Amendment, please know Hi Mountain Jerky and Seasoning stands behind you.

Privately he mourned that it was especially wrenching for him to have to deal with this, given his own passion for freedom and liberty. He also asked everyone to be patient because it could take months for Zumbo to disappear from all Hi Mountain packaging at the retail store level. But the show sponsorship? That's over today.

Hi Mountain is a small, family-owned business. I'm sure this whole thing has been difficult -- and could be costly -- for them. So please go visit their web site and give them the most meaningful sort of thanks. Buy stuff. And tell your friends.

MOSSY OAK, the camo people, didn't respond to my email, but did swiftly sever their relationship with Zumbo via a notice on their (very beautiful) web site.

CABELA'S. I haven't heard from that lovely outdoor superstore yet, either. But a fellow letter-writer has. The official word is that they don't like what Zumbo did, they recognize Zumbo's views are antithetical to theirs and most of their customers'. And their lawyers are looking into the situation. Okay, it's a beginning.

OUTDOOR LIFE. Finally these are the folks who seem to deserve a thorough raking over red-hot coals. I don't think they deserve blame for publishing Zumbo's dumb blurt. They couldn't have expected one of their own "experts" to be not only an anti-gunner but an idiot who can't tell a semi-auto firearm from an "assault rifle." But so far, their only responses have been tepid at best, creepy at worst. First the editor puts up a note on the offending Zumbo blog entry, saying he liked Ol' Jim even if he didn't agree with him in this case. Well, okay, I can see responding like that while you're just trying to catch your breath. It's feeble, but it's something. Next, they discontinue the blog "for the time being." But instead of just freezing the thing, they "disappear" the blog -- and the thousands of outraged comments -- completely.

So, is that a preparation for canning Zumbo? Or is the sudden disappearance a cowardly attempt to shove the whole controversy down the Orwellian memory hole? (Ah, but the memory hole doesn't work so well in a Google-fied, blog-ridden world!)

Outdoor Life has also, to the best of my knowledge, not responded to any of the thousands of furious emails they've received. I've written three myself, copied to various OL addresses (kindly provided by Kregener on TCF) and haven't heard so much as a squeak.

So should Outdoor Life become the next Kmart? That is, the next target for a mass gun-owner boycott? For some, it's already begun. Me, I think they should get another 24 hours' chance to stand up and do the right thing. After all, this whole mess hit on a holiday weekend, and it hit them so hard they're probably still spinning. But heck, with major sponsors pulling out, canning Zumbo's not just the right thing to do for gun owners, guns, and freedom, it's the self-interested thing. So do it already, people. Get it over with.

So ... Mega-kudos to Remington, Hi Mountain, and Mossy Oak. No mucking about, no backpedaling, no compromises, no weasel words or weasel actions. Just respect for gun owners and the right to keep and bear arms. Next time you buy a gun or ammo you know for sure that at least one firearms maker really means it when they say they support the Second Amendment. Next time you buy jerky seasonings and supplies, Hi Mountain's the place to go. You'll know your freedom won't be abused. I hear their stuff is delicious, besides. Looking forward to trying it myself. You now know whose brand of camo you can trust -- and a visit to Mossy Oak's web site is a pleasure all by itself.

Cabela's? We're waiting to hear from you.

Gerber? Well, there are a lot of good knife-makers out there. We really don't need you as long as you give financial and moral support to enemies of freedom. (NOTE February 22, 2007: Gerber eventually joined other companies in dropping their sponsorship of Zumbo.)

Outdoor Life? You still bear the major onus here. It's up to you. Hope you do the right thing.

And Jim Zumbo ... May you lie happily ever after in the arms of Sarah Brady, you ignorant, elitist, traitorous, backstabbing scum. Maybe she'll sponsor your program or publish your column now that the whole world knows you're on her side.


February 23, 2007: Update on Zumbo's downfall is here. Did we do the right thing? Or did we go overboard?

Posted by Claire @ 01:57 PM CST

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