Guns & Ammo magazine has fired contributing editor Dick Metcalf following a controversial column in its December issue in which he attempts a comparison between government regulation of firearms to other “Constitutional” limitations like licensing drivers and arresting people who kill in the name of religion.
Metcalf’s column — which ran under the headline “Do certain firearms regulations really constitute infringement?” — argues that “all Constitutional rights are regulated” and goes on to deliver an eighth-grade civics lesson (you can’t falsely shout “fire” in a crowded theater; you can’t sacrifice people in religious ceremonies) before comparing government regulation of 2nd Amendment rights to restrictions on licensed drivers:
I also received bags of mail every year, much of it from readers who were upset that I advocated the passage of additional state concealed carry laws. These readers typically argued (I’m paraphrasing) the “The Second Amendment is all the authority we need to carry anywhere we want to” or “The government doesn’t have the right to tell me whether I’m qualified to carry a gun.” I wondered whether those same people believed that just anybody should be able to buy a vehicle and take it out on public roadways without any kind of driver’s training, test or license.
I understand that driving a car is not a right protected by the Constitution, but to me the basic principle is the same. I firmly believe that all U.S. citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, but I do not believe that they have a right to use them irresponsibly. And I do believe their fellow citizens, by the specific language of the Second Amendment, have an equal right to enact regulatory laws requiring them to undergo adequate training and preparation for the responsibility of bearing arms.
I’ve seen too many examples of unsafe behavior on too many shooting ranges to believe otherwise.
Guns & Ammo fired Metcalf Thursday, issuing a statement and an unequivocal apology to readers whose views of the 2nd Amendment evidently don’t come with Metcalf’s caveats. Editor Jim Bequette wrote:
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.
Read the statement in its entirety here.