Falling for false flag operations
I've mentioned (as has practically every gun blogger) the Jim Zumbo controversy. I haven't gone into it too much, since (1) I've never heard his name before (I'm a shooter, but have little time to hunt and less to read hunting writers) and (2) while I disagreed with what he said, he already was taking a ton of flak over it and didn't need more.
But I'd like to deal with a related issue. Bill Schneider, at New West, has an article, "NRA Destroys Longtime Friend. Full of terms such as "gun rights zealots" and a statement that Zumbo's comment "makes sense to most Americans," and "To me, it seems like outdoor writers are giving the black rifle Gestapo their victory with their silence. And not just writers. Where is the outrage from millions of hunters who agree with every word Zumbo posted on his blog? "
So I looked up Schneider's previous writings. What they illustrate is how the opposition can use this fault line to divide and conquer, and also how easily the hunter-only side of it can be led to fall for "false-flag" operations (Supposedly pro-gun groups actually set up and controlled by antigun organizations).
In "Saving hunters from the NRA" he endorsed the American Shooters & Hunters' Assoc., which is a prominent "false flag" operation. The group "had almost no members and a mere half-million in the bank, but planned on an aggressive membership drive. And aggressive it must be to make any dent in the NRA's body armor. " (Hmm--no members, yet half a million in the bank? Might that lead one to wonder where it came from?) "Hardcore gun owners will remain skeptical, but many hunters who feel burned by the NRA will probably be hopeful this is reality instead of hype."
In "NRA Doesn’t Represent Both Hunters and Gun Owners" he responded to readers who'd said he'd been duped by the group... "I really don't know if the AHSA truly represents the rights of gun owners, but that wasn't the point of the article. The point was: Imagine a little group like this trying to take on the goliath of politics. To this, I say dream on!... In looking at today's political landscape, it seems like we might need another group to step up and save hunting before the NRA destroys it." Then he quotes the "GunGuys" blog, which is another antigun "false-flag" operation. "In response to Wray's original articles, the Gun Guys website where "everybody is a straight shooter," agreed: "One of the reasons we exist is simply to set the record straight on gun issues. For years the NRA has fed lies to the American people because it advances their agenda."
The controversy underscores something for me. I can understand there are sometimes conflicts between hunting-only and gun rights, if only because a pro-gun rights legislator may be anti-conservation, or putting resources into one means you can't put resources into the other. (There can even be conflicts within hunting-only: increasing hunting license fees makes hunting more costly, but increases funding for game conservation, restricting off road vehicles may make hunting areas more pristine but makes hunting unavailable to those who can't hike for miles).
Yes, I can appreciate the virtues of a traditional rifle and those who value them. I love the US Krag, and have some interesting 1930s conversions of them into deer rifles. The ingenuity of some of the work is astonishing -- mounting an adjustable peep sight on the cocking knob, for instance. I also happen to like my AR-15 -- the challenge of making a really accurate semi-auto is interesting. The problem here is that folks who like the first may assume (as traditionalists) that traditional values apply. People may be taken at their word. The other side is not obsessive, but has rational limits. If they say they only dislike AR-15s and certain handguns, they must mean it. There are no "false flag" operations. A group with shooters and hunters in their name is a group of shooters and hunters, and a blog named "The Gun Guys" must be run by gunnies.