Guns & Ammo Editor Forced Out After Publishing Column Backing Mild Gun Restrictions

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 7 2013 4:05 PM

Guns & Ammo Editor's Hope For "Healthy Exchange of Ideas" Costs Him His Job

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An attendee holds a semi-automatic pistol at the National Shooting Sports Foundation's 34th annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Guns & Ammo editor Jim Bequette says he was hoping to generate a "healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights" when he decided to publish a column that veered ever-so slightly from the the usual from-my-cold-dead-hands rhetoric normally found in the pages of his magazine. It's safe to say that effort didn't go exactly as he had hoped.

After a swift and vocal backlash from readers and other Second Amendment enthusiasts, Bequette announced yesterday that he was stepping down immediately, and that the magazine was also cutting ties with the author of the piece in question, contributing editor Dick Metcalf. "I made a mistake by publishing the column," Bequette wrote in an apologetic letter to readers. "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."

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So what, exactly, did Metcalf say to prompt such a drastic reaction? You can find a .pdf of the full column here, but in short he defended an Illinois state law that requires gun owners to undergo a set amount of training in order to obtain a concealed-carry permit. The problem, though, at least in the eyes of the pro-gun crowd, was of course less about that specific law and more about the general concept that any gun law could be a good gun law.

"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," Metcalf wrote. "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."

For those of you planning on having that healthy exchange that Bequette dreamed of in our Comment section, the Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." In Metcalf's view, his fellow gun lovers mistakenly focus on the last four of those words at the expense of the first four.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.