In early October, two days after the Umpqua Community College shooting, Mark Carman unwittingly joined the conspiracy. He posted a video on his Facebook page titled, “I Love My Guns — Responsible Gun Owners.” A former police officer, he began with an ode to his Ruger SR9, which he dangled in front of the camera. “I like it,” he said. “I love firearms. I do.” Then Carman abruptly changed gears, arguing for the expansion of background checks and the creation of a gun registry. The video has since been viewed almost 130,000 times.
Carman hadn’t been expecting to reach that kind of audience. The positive response inspired him to start a new group, The American Coalition for Responsible Gun Ownership. Recently, he was invited to the White House to discuss his ideas. On November 17, he will meet with Valerie Jarrett, one of President Obama’s senior policy advisors.
In the meantime, Carman has been virtually stoned by Second Amendment purists who view nuance as blasphemy, particularly when it is espoused by fellow gun-owners. He was forced to shut down comments on his Youtube page after attackers accused him of being a convicted felon, a child molester, and a drug addict.
Carman has not been surprised by the backlash. “There are people who truly believe that at some point storm troopers are going to come and take over their neighborhood and attempt to confiscate guns,” he tells The Trace by email. “They will come up with anything they can to discredit someone without regard to the truth.”
Once flaming his Youtube page was no longer an option, anti-Carman commenters moved to friendlier venues. On November 11, a story about his White House visit appeared on Breitbart.com. Some readers were convinced he was part of a grand plot. One commenter wrote, “[The] fact that this guy is meeting with VJ ought to scare the living hell out of everyone. SHE is the de-facto POTUS…..NOT obama……mark my words folks, she (VJ) through him (obama)….is coming for our guns.” Another said, “Any fool knows where this is going and I would not be at all surprised if this clown was hired by the administration to speak this junk.”
Elsewhere, Carman was told he had disqualified himself from gun ownership, and, “as soon as possible,” should relinquish his firearms. “You don’t deserve them,” the commenter scolded. On Guns.com, which published an interview with Carman, readers were in near total agreement. “HE NEEDS to have his 2ND Amendment RightS snatched away from his STUPID @$$.”
Each of these posts expresses the same sentiments that destroyed the careers of several prominent gun journalists, among them Jim Zumbo, who lost his job in 2007 as the longtime editor of Outdoor Life for suggesting hunters shouldn’t use semiautomatic weapons. A term was coined after his dismissal: To be Zumbo’ed is to be banished from the gun community and enter a new club — one that Carman has now inevitably joined.