Gun owners: Casting out a heretic

Dick Metcalf, a “gun guy through and through,” got into trouble when he suggested that gun owners receive mandatory firearm training.

Dick Metcalf is a “gun guy through and through,” said Joe Nocera in The New York Times. This longtime champion of Second Amendment rights helped write the federal Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, and has long been a columnist for “industry bible” Guns & Ammo. But Metcalf became a pariah last week, when he dared to suggest in his column that gun owners receive mandatory training to ensure that they use firearms safely. Since the Second Amendment prescribes a “well-regulated” armed citizenry, he reasoned, government has the “right to enact regulatory laws.” His proposal triggered a firestorm of outrage; furious readers canceled subscriptions, and advertisers threatened boycotts. Metcalf was fired, and his editor, Jim Bequette, resigned after writing a “groveling apology.” Metcalf’s proposal was both reasonable and constitutional, said Francis Wilkinson in Even conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has written that the right to bear arms is “not unlimited.” But today, any attempt to reduce the mayhem caused by firearms is “beyond the pale of the gun cult.”

It’s not surprising that “us gun nuts” rose up in revolt, said Jorge Amselle in bases his argument on the use of the word “regulated” in the Constitution, when it clearly meant “something entirely different” back in 1787—not restrictions on gun ownership, but a state of preparedness. Guns & Ammo’s readership knew that Metcalf’s proposal would simply put gun owners on a slippery slope, with endless demands for more restrictions on our freedom. Metcalf must have known he’d anger our community when he wrote his piece. “So why did he intentionally step into a bear trap?”

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