Sam Uretsky

Don’t Disturb Gun Advocates

In 1984, there was a movie titled “Tank”, with James Garner playing the role of Sergeant Major Zak Carey. Zak is a nice guy (Garner is good at nice guy) who keeps a World War II vintage tank for use in parades. When a corrupt Sheriff arrests Zak’s son on a trumped up drug charge, Zak starts up the tank. It was a nice family movie, and showed the positive side of having your own Sherman tank, but remember, this is James Garner, who, on “The Rockford Files” was the only private detective in the history of television who couldn’t find a parking space, and that was for a Pontiac Firebird. Besides parking, the thought of road congestion should be enough to open a discussion of the wisdom of widespread tank ownership. The M1 Abrams tank has a top speed of 45 mph, which would not go over well in Wyoming where the speed limit is 75 mph.

As a general thing, progressives are willing, even anxious to talk about firearms restrictions. Aside from questions about the wisdom of tank ownership, we could discuss whether somebody on the no-fly list, who can’t be trusted to occupy a seat in coach, should have easy access to an assault rifle. If a person is too drunk to drive, are they still sober enough to operate a pistol? These certainly seem like fair questions. What’s missing is a willingness on the part of firearms advocates to discuss the subject.

Aside from the language of the Second Amendment, it seems fairly obvious that there are people and situations where possession of a firearm is appropriate and even essential. Firearms can be used for protection against predatory species, and for control of animal pests such as racoons and rabbits. People in rural areas, far from police stations, may reasonably want firearms for personal protection. Target sports are fun. Liberals talk and liberals compromise – it seems to be a genetic trait. Somebody should do a study of what percentage of Starbucks’ sales come from liberals saying “let’s discuss it over coffee.”

Unfortunately, firearms advocates don’t want to talk. In 2007, Jim Zumbo, a prominent writer and star of television shows about big game hunting, in his blog on Outdoor Life’s web site, wrote “Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity ... As hunters, we don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them. ... I’ll go so far as to call them ‘terrorist’ rifles.” Mr. Zumbo was talking about hunting prairie dogs, a species in which the adult male weighs 1.5 to 3 pounds. All hell broke loose and Mr. Zumbo lost his job and his sponsors, this in spite of profuse apologies and promises to go hunting with an assault rifle. All ended sort of happily thought – in his current blog, Mr. Zumbo writes that Ted Nugent came to his rescue and taught him the benefits of assault rifles. Mr. Zumbo went to work for the Second Amendment Foundation and even got his TV show back.

According to the New York Times: “In 2012, Jerry Tsai, the editor of Recoil magazine, wrote that the Heckler & Koch MP7A1 gun, designed for law enforcement, was “unavailable to civilians and for good reason.” He was pressured to step down, and despite apologizing, has not written since.”

The rifle Mr. Tsai was writing about is described by its manufacturer: “The HK-developed 4.6 x 30mm ammunition provides the penetration approaching that of an assault rifle round and is able to defeat the types of body armor frequently found in the hands of terrorists and criminal gangs, in particular that of the former Soviet Bloc special forces ...”

The latest victim in the war on discussion is Dick Metcalf, whose column in the December 2013 Guns & Ammo was headed “Let’s Talk Limits: Do certain firearms regulations really constitute infringement?” In the column Mr. Metcalf wrote “I firmly believe that all US Citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, but I do not believe that they have a right to use them irresponsibly.” The entire column is a model of rational moderation. Instead, Mr. Metcalf was fired, and his editor resigned. Mr. Metcalf’‘s firing came after two major firearms industry manufacturers said they would pull their advertising as long as Mr. Metcalf was employed there.

Mr. Metcalf had been overly provocative. He had written “All constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be. Freedom of speech is regulated … Freedom of religion is regulated … Freedom of assembly is regulated.” Even the Ten Commandments have been debated and discussed, but anyone proposing to discuss firearms had better stick to the party line.

And so, until we get to the point where we can at least sit down over coffee, if you find yourself going 45 mph on a road zoned for 75 mph, do not start honking your horn. You never know.

Sam Uretsky is a writer and pharmacist living on Long Island, N.Y. Email

From The Progressive Populist, February 15, 2014

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