Guns & Ammo column backing Illinois gun law brings vitriolic backlash, costs writer his job

1What happens when you publish a column that praises the level-headed law that requires Illinois concealed carry permit applicants to undergo 16 hours of training? In most places, the calm, rational approach would hopefully open up a dialog that addresses the delicate balance between gun rights and gun control in an arena where tempers often flare. But if you’re Guns & Ammo, the backlash to such a column inspires such a firestorm that the writer of the column is fired and the editor that okayed it feels compelled to resign.

First of all, let’s take a look at the article that started this mess, embedded below.

Let's talk limits, by Dick Metcalf (Guns & Ammo, Dec. 2013)

Seems pretty level-headed, especially for Guns & Ammo, right? Especially Metcalf’s point: “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.” It’s hard to find an argument with that. But Guns & Ammo readers sure managed to. Several gun rights advocates lashed out at Metcalf, saying he was no friend to their “cause.” There are seemingly no shades of gray to them, so it was time to unleash their best shots, such as Robert Farago.

I’m going to stop there. Anyone who says “I believe in the Second Amendment but–” does not believe in the Second Amendment. They are not friends, they are not frenemies, they are enemies of The People of the Gun.

More than that, whether or not these nominal gun rights supporters (e.g., President Obama, Senator Charles Schumer) “believe” in the Second Amendment is irrelevant. As stated above, the right to keep and bear arms is a natural right, stemming from our natural right of self-defense. It doesn’t require belief, faith or political justification.

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A perusal of their Facebook page turns up only more anger and rage directed at Metcalf.

In the end, editor Jim Bequette decided the best thing to do – besides firing Metcalf – was to fall on his on sword and resign earlier than he had originally planned for other reasons. He addressed all the nastiness in his own apology posted online.

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…

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.

Of course, in that self-fulfilling prophecy kind of way, the comments on Bequette’s apology stray as far from a “healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights” as one can get. Not that anyone could claim to be shocked that a topic like gun control – even when presented in as level-headed way as possible – would cause such a fracas, especially in comment forums and message boards on the Internet. By simply hinting that sometimes minor gun control laws – like simply requiring training – could occasionally be a good thing, Metcalf stirred up a blood lust, a composite hue and cry that shouted down any attempt to open a mature conversation on the topic.

Because with 22 mass shootings killing four or more victims since the Newton, Connecticut shootings (stats per USA Today) and other high-profile occurrences like September;s Cornell Park shooting here in Chicago and last week’s LAX shooting, there’s no reason at all to consider gun violence an issue or problem in the United States, right?

Just carry on, then.

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