February 28, 2007
Mr. Alan Gottlieb, Chairman
Citizens Committee for the
Right to Keep and Bear Arms
12500 N.E. Tenth Place
Bellevue, WA 98005
They say that hindsight is always 20-20. In my case, hindsight has been a hard teacher, like the father teaching the son a lesson about life in the wood shed.
I was wrong when I recently suggested that wildlife agencies should ban semiautomatic firearms I erroneously called “assault rifles” for hunting. I insulted legions of my fellow gun owners in the process by calling them “terrorist rifles.” I can never apologize enough for having worn blinders when I should have been wearing bifocals.
But unlike those who would destroy the Second Amendment right to own a firearm – any firearm – I have learned from my embarrassing mistake. My error should not be used, as it has been in recent days by our common enemies, in an effort to dangerously erode our right to keep and bear arms.
I would hope instead to use this spotlight to address my hunting fraternity, many of whom shared my erroneous position. I am a hunter and like many others I had the wrong picture in mind. I associated these firearms with military action, and saw not hunting as I have known it, not the killing of a varmint, but the elimination of the entire colony. Nothing could be further from the truth, but I know from whence it comes. This ridiculous image, formed in the blink of an eye, exerts an unconscious effect on all decisions that follow. In seeking to protect our hunting rights by guarding how we are seen in the public eye, I lost sight of the larger picture; missed the forest for the trees.
My own lack of experience was no excuse for ignoring the fact that millions of Americans – people who would share a campfire or the shelter of their tent, and who have hurt nobody – own, hunt with and competitively shoot or collect the kinds of firearms I so easily dismissed.
I recently took a “crash course” on these firearms with Ted Nugent, to learn more about them and to educate myself. In the process, I learned about the very real threat that faces all American gun owners.
I’ve studied up on legislation now in Congress that would renew and dangerously expand a ban on many types of firearms. The bill, HR 1022 sponsored by New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, is written so broadly that it would outlaw numerous firearms and accessories, including a folding stock for a Ruger rifle. I understand that some of the language could ultimately take away my timeworn and cherished hunting rifles and shotguns as well as those of all American hunters.
The extremist supporters of HR 1022 don’t want to stop criminals. They want to invent new ones out of people like you and me with the simple stroke of a pen. They will do anything they can to make it impossible for more and more American citizens to legally own any firearm.
Realizing that what I wrote catered to this insidious attack on fellow gun owners has, one might say, “awakened a sleeping giant within me, and filled him with a terrible resolve.”
I made a mistake. But those who would use my remarks to further their despicable political agenda have made a bigger one. I hope to become their worst nightmare. I admit I was wrong. They insist they are right.
Enclosed, you will find a check that is intended to be used to fight and defeat HR 1022. I also hope it inspires other gun owners to “do as I do, not as I say.”
I’m putting my money where my mouth should have been, and where my heart and soul have always been. I know the Second Amendment isn’t about hunting and never has been. My blunder was in thinking that by working to protect precious hunting rights I was doing enough. I promise it will never happen again.
I don’t know what lies over the horizon for me. I am not ready for the rocking chair.
I’m going to devote every ounce of my energy to this battle. I will remind my fellow hunters that we are first, gun owners. Whether we like it or not, our former apathy and prejudices may place that which we love, hunting, in jeopardy. I will educate fellow outdoorsmen who mistakenly think like I talked, even if I have to visit every hunting camp and climb into every duck blind and deer stand in this country to get it done. I was wrong, and I’m going to make it right.
Mr. Zumbo I welcome you to the fight, but you will be watched; carefully.