If you’re a firearms aficionado, gun rights activist, or gun control activist, it’s unlikely you haven’t heard about the scuffle between Dick Metcalf, formerly of Guns & Ammo, and the readers of the magazine, who were understandably surprised and not elated by a recent comment by Metcalf in the magazine.
I’ve already elucidated my reasons for why I thought Metcalf wasn’t just wrong, but unconscionably so, not because of his statements about firearms rights in particular, but because his argument was the same as that of any lightweight statist who sees infringement of rights as something you simply have to accept. I wasn’t alone in my response to his comments, which were not so much offensive for their Bloombergian “reasonable gun limits” argument, but for the complete mischaracterization of how laws encroaching on civil liberties are something the people to “just deal with.” Within days, Metcalf was sacked and the general editor in a standup move that didn’t hurt too much since he was retiring in a few months anyway, resigned.
Jim Shepherd over at The Outdoor Wire thought, rightfully and respectfully, that Metcalf should be given a forum to respond. Unfortunately, Metcalf’s response proved many of my assertions about his thought processes and his points correct. So let’s have a shufty at some more reasons Metcalf should have been summarily dismissed from a publication that claims to support a specific civil right (in this case the Second Amendment.)
Right off the bat, Mr. Defensive here makes several fatal argumentative errors:
[Intermedia Outdoors] was contacted by two major firearms industry manufacturers, stating that they would do no further business with IMO if it continued with its present personnel structure. Within hours, Jim Bequette resigned as Editor of Guns & Ammo, and my relationship with all IMO publications and TV shows was terminated…How do I feel about that? Disappointed. If a respected editor can be forced to resign and a controversial writer’s voice be shut down by a one-sided social-media and internet outcry, virtually overnight, simply because they dared to open a discussion or ask questions about a politically sensitive issue . . . then I fear for the future of our industry, and for our Cause.
Oh…so it was just a social-media issue. You see, the readers of the magazine weren’t pissed off that Metcalf made a case that licensing and other restrictions weren’t infringement — which apparently they disagreed with, as did the advertisers (the people, Dick, that ultimately pay your salary.) — no this was just the crazies, you see. Poor Dick Metcalf!
Do not 2nd Amendment adherents also believe in Freedom of Speech? Do Americans now fear open and honest discussion of different opinions about important Constitutional issues? Do voices from cyberspace now control how and why business decisions are made?
This is the pathetic whinging of someone who thought they could shoot their mouth off and not get called on it. It’s like Superintendent William Brooks of APS here in Albuquerque calling the Secretary of Education a barnyard animal and being surprised that he called called on the carpet for his idiocy.
Here’s, as simply as I can put it for you, Dick, why you are wrong: Your article conflated the loss of other important rights with gun rights, and then suggested that the de facto existence of restrictions was not infringement. Your argument was structured to attack 1st Amendment rights, as well. Additionally, they have the right to decry your speech, particularly in light that “honest discussions” about their naturally occurring rights nearly always end up with more infringement (or regulation, as you put it.) As for your moronic “voices from cyberspace” comment: Here’s a newsflash from the series of tubes — these were your readers, Dick. As to business decisions — when your customers and advertisers decide you’ve gone too far and pull their support that is their right to do so. If they threaten to pull support because a writer unthinkingly shot his mouth off…well, that’s the equivalent of a rude waiter being fired for driving off customers.
Here’s a particular nice “defense” that is immediately rendered null by its own stupidity. Metcalf made several erroneous opinions regarding the nature of rights and their legal and moral elements and was called in several venues on it. Here is his response:
And yes, I am fully aware of the many and varied historical/legal definitions of the term “well-regulated,” and how they are used and misused…I am also fully aware that the different rights enumerated in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and following amendments are different, and are regulated differently.
Anytime Dick wants to illuminate me on the housing of troops in homes of the citizens of the United States, I will quickly apologize for marking him an idiot.
At the same time, how can anyone deny that the 2nd Amendment is already regulated by innumerable federal, state, and local statutes, and always has been?
No one is denying that. they are denying the constitutionality of those restrictions, and that is their right (that would be the First Amendment, Mr. Metcalf. It’s written in simple declarative English, so you should be able to grasp the meaning…)
Do we all agree with [court rulings for regulation]? Of course not. I personally do not. But these are laws; now part of the organic fabric of the Constitution, and we ignore them at our peril. Should we now hold that those rulings themselves are unconstitutional?
Here he falls for a classic Progressive argument that has been floating about since Roosevelt’s day (and which was roundly shot down by President Taft): Laws are not part of the “organic fabric of the Constitution.” Laws are subservient to the Constitution, this is why they must meet a constitutional standard. Moreover, laws can be fairly easily repealed with the proper political will, and many are. Can Supreme Court rulings be found unconstitutional? No, but they can be found, through judicial review, erroneous and their rulings reversed. So again — Mr. Metcalf shows a staggering lack of knowledge of the workings of his own government for one who makes great airs regarding his involvement in some legislation in the 1980s.
Here’s a series of questions designed to show how much he’s thought about this subject:
Are all those laws unconstitutional infringements of the 2nd Amendment? Should we entirely oppose their existence? Should we obtain concealed-carry licenses anyway? Are we violating the Constitution ourselves if we do?
Here’s the answers, Dick. Yes. Yes. Yes — because, as you pointed out with italic awe “these are laws” and right now you are required to follow them, but you can oppose them by suing the state government for damage. Lastly, no. Until the law is given proper consideration, you are required to follow the law. That said — there were plenty of bad laws that people opposed by flaunting them: The Fugitive Slave Act was frequently broken, even though it was found constitutional (Dred Scott); Prohibition and the Volstead Act were so unpopular and ineffective that it led to a Constitutional amendment repealing a former amendment. By Metcalf’s reasoning, the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 are inviolate, as were the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws. These were laws…should people have followed their racist intents?
Myself, I would rather carry legally, than carry illegally and risk prison.
Hello…you just answered your own third question.
Metcalf finishes with a particularly whiny flourish, then asks “deep” questions, all being contained above, save the following, which I suspect he thinks is a slam-dunk coup de grace (which is a terrible combination of metaphors):
1. If you believe the 2nd Amendment should be subject to no regulation at all, do you therefore believe all laws prohibiting convicted violent repeat criminals from having guns are unconstitutional? Should all such laws be repealed?
I’ll take you on, Dick. Yes, I do. Here’s why — the idea of incarceration is based on one of two concepts: a person has been punished for their actions, or they have been rehabilitated, in which case they are no longer a threat. If a person was considered punished enough, or rehabilitated, they should be allowed to regain their constitutional rights. I am willing to bend to some kind of period after release where they would not be able to own or handle a weapon, but I think that should be a misdemeanor, if not used in a crime. But yes, eventually, they should be able to carry; their right to self-defense doesn’t end because they committed a crime.
The grievously flawed essay is a classic example of the “cornered expert”, who after spewing canned talking points and having attacked his audience for their lack of couth and intelligence, is surprised and offended when they not only don’t thank him for the attack, but destroy his argument with reason and information. We see this with scientists, government experts, talking heads, and pundits every day — people whose alleged expertise is easily picked apart by the plebians they sought to lecture to.
I am sure, however, that Mr. Metcalf will land on his feet with Bloomberg’s MAIG (Mayors Against Illegal Guns) or the prevaricators at Moms Demand Action. He can be their pet “conservative gun nut” who spews their propaganda.