Blogger Shot Down for Calling Rifles 'Terrorist' Weapons

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:23pm EDT

( - A sportsmanship and outdoor living magazine has ended a regular column by one of its online bloggers after a posting in which the writer said he considers high-powered AK and AR rifles "terrorist" weapons that "have no place in hunting."

The controversy erupted earlier this month, when Jim Zumbo ran a piece entitled "Assault Rifles for Hunters?" in his "Hunting With Zumbo" column on the website of Outdoor Life magazine, a publication that calls itself "the Source for Hunting and Fishing Adventure."

"As I write this, I'm hunting coyotes in southeastern Wyoming," Zumbo wrote. "The guides on our hunt tell me that the use of AR and AK rifles have a rapidly growing following among hunters, especially prairie dog hunters. I had no clue.

"I call them 'assault' rifles, which may upset some people," he stated. "I'll go so far as to call them 'terrorist' rifles.

"In my humble opinion, these things have no place in hunting," Zumbo argued. "We don't need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern.

"As hunters, we don't need the image of walking around the woods carrying one of these weapons," he added. "To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let's divorce ourselves from them."

Soon after, Zumbo posted a follow-up message entitled "I Was Wrong, BIG TIME."

"Someone once said that to err is human. I just erred, and made without question, the biggest blunder in my 42 years of writing hunting articles," he stated. "Obviously, when I wrote that blog, I activated my mouth before engaging my brain.

"Believe it or not, I'm your best friend if you're a hunter or shooter, though it might not seem that way," he noted. "I'm sorry for inserting my foot in my mouth."

On his website, Zumbo is described as "one of the country's most well-known and respected outdoorsmen. He has dedicated his life to hunting, the pursuit and enjoyment of the outdoors, and writing about his experiences for his readers."

The site also notes that Zumbo sold his first article to Outdoor Life in 1962 and has had over 1,500 articles published in all the major outdoor magazines.

Over the several days following the posting, Outdoor Life and other companies with which Zumbo had long-term relationships received thousands of emails and telephone calls responding to the column.

Last week, Outdoor Life pulled Zumbo's blog, replacing it with a statement that read: "Due to the controversy surrounding Jim Zumbo's recent postings, Outdoor Life has decided to discontinue the 'Hunting With Zumbo' blog for the time being.

"Outdoor Life has always been, and will always be, a steadfast supporter of our Second Amendment rights, which do not make distinctions based on the looks of the firearms we choose to own, shoot and take hunting," the statement added.

Todd Smith, editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine, subsequently posted a statement of his own, entitled "Outdoor Life and Jim Zumbo Part Ways."

"In light of comments made by Jim Zumbo in his February 16, 2007, blog posting on the magazine's website, Mr. Zumbo has offered to terminate his association with Outdoor Life, and the magazine has accepted his offer," Smith said.

"Accordingly, he will no longer be contributing to the magazine in print or online," the editor-in-chief wrote.

"We respect Mr. Zumbo's First Amendment right to free speech, and we acknowledge his subsequent apology and admission of error," Smith added. "We regret this turn of events, as Mr. Zumbo has been a good friend to this magazine and lifelong advocate for hunters and hunting rights."

Remington Arms Company, Inc., made a similar statement on its website.

"As a result of comments made by Mr. Jim Zumbo in recent postings on his blog site," Remington "has severed all sponsorship ties with Mr. Zumbo, effective immediately," the news release noted.

Other sponsors cutting their ties with Zumbo include Cabela's Outfitters, Gerber Legendary Blades, High Mountain Seasonings, the National Rifle Association and Haas Outdoors, Inc., the home of Mossy Oak Brand Camouflage. "Jim Zumbo Outdoors," a cable TV series on the Outdoor Channel, was also cancelled.

Several telephone calls seeking response from Zumbo were not returned by press time. However, the outdoorsman commented on the events in a posting on a blog hosted by fellow hunter Ted Nugent.

"Looking back, I can't believe I said the words 'ban' and 'terrorist' in the context that I did," Zumbo said. His said his biggest regret was "that I inadvertently struck a spear into the hearts of the people I love most ... America's gun owners. And, even though this huge cadre of dedicated people has succeeded in stripping me of my career, I hold no grudges."

"I will continue to stand as firm on pro hunting as I've ever done," he wrote. "What's different now is that I'll do all I can to educate others who are, or were, as ignorant as I was about 'black' rifles and the controversy that surrounds them."

"My promise to you is that I'll learn all I can about these firearms," Zumbo added, and "I'll do all I can to spread the word." As a result, "maybe in a roundabout way, we can bring something good out of this."

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