Starting a new magazine is a shaky proposition at best these days, but it would probably be easier if the editor could manage to avoid alienating most of the readership in the fourth issue. Unfortunately thats what happened to Recoil, a new periodical focusing on tactical weapons and gear that debuted last year.
Editor Jerry Tsai, in a fourth edition article about the latest version of the Heckler & Koch MP7, wrote, "The MP7A1 is unavailable to civilians and for good measure. We all know thats technology no civvies should ever get to lay their hands on. This is a purpose-built weapon with no sporting applications to speak of."
Predictably, Tsai was immediately buried under a wave of mail from irate readers, and they werent upset about his use of a preposition at the end of a sentence. His agreement with H&Ks decision not to let anyone except the military and law enforcement play with their new toy was bad enough, but his implication that a sporting purpose should be required for civilians to own any weapon was the match that lit the fuse.
A Dump Recoil Magazine Facebook page popped up overnight, and was overwhelmed with posts calling for Tsais head on a platter. He made a quick apology that was more of a you misunderstood what I said statement than an I made a mistake statement, which only made things worse. A few days later Tsai apologized again, this time for real, on the Recoil website, but by then the damage was too deep for the dipstick.
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Of course, weve seen this kind of thing before. Six years ago Jim Zumbo suffered from a similar, and equally public, case of foot-in-mouth disease, and only resurrected his tarnished reputation after months of profuse apologies and groveling. Recoil magazine, unless the publishers pockets are very deep indeed, may not be able to follow suit. Once the ship sprung the leak, the lifeboats went quickly, containing many of the magazines sponsors and advertisers, such as ITS Tactical, Magpul Industries, and Silencerco, among others.
On one hand, its difficult to blame the companies that have chosen to distance themselves from this fiasco. Public opinion is vital to a manufacturers reputation, and in todays competitive retail environment, siding with someone who holds views in opposition to those of your customers is akin to signing your own bankruptcy forms. Damage control is to be expected.
On the other hand, when something like this happens, the gun community needs to circle the wagons and support one another more than ever. No doubt, by the time this column sees ink, the antis will have latched onto Mr. Tsais faux pas like a pit bull onto a T-bone, which is the same thing that happened to Zumbo. They will also, without question, attempt to capitalize on the dissention among our ranks, claiming we shoot our own wounded. We do ourselves a disservice if we play into their hands.
Zumbos misstep in 2006 was very like Tsais, when he blogged his (then current) opinion that AR-type rifles had no apparent hunting application. Many gun writers spent months pointing out that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with sporting arms. After a while, content that those who were willing to listen had received the message, we all moved on to other topics.
Obviously, we were mistaken. Even among the gun community there seem to be those who are yet dreadfully misinformed, if the editor of a tactical firearms magazine can step so deeply into the kimchi. Mr. Tsai seems to belong to the faction that has resisted all efforts at education, and still fail to realize there is no requirement whatever for an American to need a gun in order to justify owning it.
Granted, Jerry Tsai is from California where, as Soldier Systems Daily pointed out, there is a great deal of anti-gun public opinion, and such an environment may have given Tsai a myopic view of freedom, as pertains to Second Amendment rights. Still, thats no excuse.
Beyond the issue of right vs. need, Mr. Tsai seems to believe civilians are, somehow, less capable of safely operating the MP7A1 than law enforcement and military personnel. This despite evidence that police often lack sufficient firearms training, such as the recent incident outside the Empire State Building in which a man pulled a gun on two police officers on a busy street. The officers fired sixteen rounds, killing the perpetrator and wounding nine innocent bystanders. The bad guy, who never got off a shot during the exchange, was standing about six feet from the officers when he pulled his gun.
Time will tell whether Recoil can recover from the debacle of ignoring the meaning of the Second Amendment. The bigger question is whether America can . . .