A Bit of Truth about Assault Weapons

In a speech to the Economic Club of Detroit in May 1999, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., committed to speak on the issue of gun crimes each week that the Senate is in session. This is the 257th week he has continued to live up to his pledge; his remarks follow:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mr. President, the National Rifle Association leadership has stated repeatedly that a ban on assault weapons is ineffective and unnecessary. They assert that guns labeled as assault weapons are rarely used in violent crimes and that most people use them for hunting. However, despite these repeated assertions, the list of people speaking out against assault weapons continues to grow.

Jim Zumbo, an outdoors entrepreneur who lives in a log cabin near Yellowstone National Park, has spent much of his life writing for prominent outdoor magazines, delivering lectures across the country and who starred in a highly rated TV show about big-game hunting. Jim has been an NRA member for 40 years, and, according to his website, has appeared with NRA officials in 70 cities across the country. This relationship changed drastically when Jim expressed his common sense opinion on assault weapons.

Last month, after learning that some hunters were using assault weapons to hunt prairie dogs, Jim expressed his thoughts in his personal blog on the Outdoor Life magazine website. He wrote Maybe Im a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. Ill go so far as to call them terrorist rifles. He continued by stating that in his humble opinion, these things have no place in hunting. We dont need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. Ive always been comfortable with the statement that hunters dont use assault rifles. Weve always been proud of our sporting firearms.

The reaction from NRA officials was swift and callous. They immediately severed all ties with Mr. Zumbo. His TV program on the Outdoor Channel was canceled, and his longtime career with Outdoor Life magazine ended. In addition many of his corporate ties to the biggest names in gun making, such as Remington Arms Co., were terminated.

Jim Zumbo has worked for years to improve the image of outdoorsman. As he put it, As hunters, we dont need the image of walking around the woods carrying one of these weapons. To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Lets divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the prairies and woods.

We all owe Jim Zumbo a debt of gratitude for his forthrightness, his honesty and his courage. We must put the safety of our communities first by taking up and passing sensible gun legislation that includes renewing the assault weapons ban.