I want to talk about another meme moving around in the gun blogosphere that goes something like this: “Wow, look at what we managed to do to Jim Zumbo! If we only applied that kind of pressure to Congress, we’d be buying MP5s from Wal-Mart in no time!”. Oh, how I wish that were true. But it’s not.
What we have done with the Zumbo thing is demonstrate that shooters, particular we evil black rifle shooters, are now a force to be reckoned with within the shooting community. When we talk, the industry listens. This makes sense for them, because we constitute one of the growth markets for the industry. We’re buying more rifles, we’re buying more ammunition, and we’re active politically. They can’t afford to piss us off, so it’s no surprise they dumped Zumbo like a hot potato when we started to squeeze them.
That doesn’t translate into political power outside of the community. Jim Zumbo was one man, and the number of players in this industry are few, and they depend on us. Once you’re talking Congress, you’re talking 435 memebers of The House and 100 members in The Senate. Now you’ve gone from a handful of people you have to infleunce, to 535 people. And those 535 people have hundreds of other interests they listen to, and can count on for votes and money. In short, we can rule our little estuary, but that’s not to say we’re the big fish once we swim into the sea.
The new voice we’ve found as a community with the whole Jim Zumbo thing is great, and useful. It will come in handy the next time we have a big political fight on our hands. But we still need to reach out to more people who might not be as involved or as informed as we are about these issues, and will still have to play the dirty game of politics as we have been. What I don’t want to see happen is people thinking, because we managed to destroy Jim Zumbo’s career, that we can just make demands on politicians and get our way; we can’t.
We’re still just another interest group, a powerful one, no doubt, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Zumboing will be another political tool in our arsenal, but we will have to be careful about how we use that tool. Using it in the wrong place or the wrong time could wear it out, and ruin it’s political effectiveness. So my advise to everyone out there is that we continue to work hard to bring more people into the issue, and not get too cocky with our new found power.