Dick Metcalf, a writer for Guns & Ammo was fired from that magazine today after his “Let’s Talk Limits” (281kB PDF) column advocating (admittedly limited and minor) gun control went over like a lead balloon with the gun-owning community, though his column did elicit praise from the Brady Campaign and its supporters.
Why did gun owners react so harshly to Mr. Metcalf’s column? Miguel at GunFreeZone explains:
Some will say: ?Well shit! That is rather harsh. What about his right to free speech??? Sparky, we are right now in the equivalent of a Cold War between a powerful enemy and our side: and constitutional platitudes are all nice, warm and fuzzy and to be used in-house only. To use one of the oldest and most visible gun magazines to sport and antique and expired train of thought that might be used by the enemy is just sheer stupidity? no, I don?t think Metcalf was a spy or a sell out, just stupid.
Something something “house divided”, anyone?
While there are certainly some changes or improvements that can be made to gun laws that don’t infringe people’s rights ((A state could require dealers conduct both a state and federal background check, states could improve their reporting of prohibited persons to NICS, etc.)) (not to mention the numerous changes that could increase people’s rights), advocating for regulations (even supposedly “common sense” things like requiring training to exercise a right) that restrict people’s rights is a sure-fire way to give ammo and sound bites to the anti-gun side.
A public figure like a columnist at a major gun magazine should choose their words carefully: the anti-gun folks will never be satisfied — there’s no “Goldilocks gun” that’s “just right”: guns will either be too big, too small, too powerful, too weak, to accurate, too inaccurate, etc. — and they will happily use such statements as an endorsement for any extreme measures they propose. If you give them an inch they will take a mile.
This is not a call for rigid ideological purity (gun owners are large and diverse group after all), but rather a call to be aware of your public statements and to consider how they might be used out of context, particularly if you write for mainstream media like print magazines.
On a more practical note, annoying the people who support you (read: people who buy your magazine, other gun owners, etc.) is a great way to lose business.
Hat tip to The Truth About Guns for the original posting about the subject and their 8MB PDF of the Guns & Ammo column. I tweaked the PDF a bit to make it a bit smaller and the modified, smaller version is here — everyone should feel free to use it as they see fit. Also, thanks to The Bang Switch for reporting on the follow-up from Guns & Ammo.