A veteran gun writer, Dick Metcalf, was fired today from his position as technical editor at Guns & Ammo magazine. Why? Because a column he wrote in the December 2013 issue of G&A suggested that not every firearm regulation constituted an infringement on the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms.
Metcalf’s column was of interest to me in particular because he seemed to be motivated to write it by the passage of Illinois’s concealed carry statute earlier this year. As Metcalf writes, “It’s a ‘shall issue’ law, but is requires 16 hours of training to qualify for a license. Many say that’s excessive – an inherent infringement. I don’t . . . I don’t think that requiring 16 hours of training to qualify for a concealed carry license is infringement in and of itself. But that’s just me . . .” (Find a link to the original column here.)
The issue of “training” is a controversial one in the gun culture. The default view of many leading figures within the culture, like Gun Talk radio and TV host Tom Gresham, implore people to get training, but do not think it should be required. Obviously, straying from that default view is hazardous to one’s standing in the community.
Although some in the gun culture were supportive of Metcalf’s position (see Dave Workman’s coverage in Gun Rights Examiner) – and the column clearly did stimulate an exchange of ideas – the anti-Metcalf forces prevailed and on November 7th the editor of G&A, Jim Bequette, issued the following statement:
As editor of “Guns & Ammo,” I owe each and every reader a personal apology.
No excuses, no backtracking.
Dick Metcalf’s “Backstop” column in the December issue has aroused unprecedented controversy. Readers are hopping mad about it, and some are questioning “Guns & Ammo”’s commitment to the Second Amendment. I understand why.
Let me be clear: Our commitment to the Second Amendment is unwavering. It has been so since the beginning. Historically, our tradition in supporting the Second Amendment has been unflinching. No strings attached. It is no accident that when others in the gun culture counseled compromise in the past, hard-core thinkers such as Harlon Carter, Don Kates and Neal Knox found a place and a voice in these pages. When large firearms advocacy groups were going soft in the 1970s, they were prodded in the right direction, away from the pages of “Guns & Ammo.”
In publishing Metcalf’s column, I was untrue to that tradition, and for that I apologize. His views do not represent mine — nor, most important, “Guns & Ammo”’s. It is very clear to me that they don’t reflect the views of our readership either.
Dick Metcalf has had a long and distinguished career as a gunwriter, but his association with “Guns & Ammo” has officially ended.
I once again offer my personal apology. I understand what our valued readers want. I understand what you believe in when it comes to gun rights, and I believe the same thing.
I made a mistake by publishing the column. I thought it would generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights. I miscalculated, pure and simple. I was wrong, and I ask your forgiveness.
Plans were already in place for a new editor to take the reins of “Guns & Ammo” on January 1. However, these recent events have convinced me that I should advance that schedule immediately.
Your new “Guns & Ammo” editor will be Eric R. Poole, who has so effectively been running our special interest publications, such as “Book of the AR-15” and “TRIGGER.” You will be hearing much more about this talented editor soon.
“Guns & Ammo” will never fail to vigorously lead the struggle for our Second Amendment rights, and with vigorous young editorial leadership such as Eric’s, it will be done even better in the future.
Apparently not all exchanges of ideas are “healthy” within the gun culture. Rather than engaging in a debate about what level of regulation constitutes an infringement, the position that any regulation is an infringement – or could by a slippery slope become an infringement – prevailed.
In addition to having a clear implication for concealed carry training, something I’m very interested in, L’Affaire Metcalf also reminds me that I need to get moving on some blog posts I have been preparing on State Constitutional provisions regarding the right to keep and bear arms and the regulation thereof.