Earlier this month, veteran guns writer Dick Metcalf was fired from his contributing editor role at Guns & Ammo magazine, after he wrote a column suggesting some regulations on gun ownership were both sensible and inevitable.
The column provoked an outcry among the publication’s pro-gun readership, yet Mr Metcalf now says it was the intervention of two “major” firearms manufacturers that sealed his fate.
In his regular column for the Florida-based magazine’s December 2013 issue, Mr Metcalf suggested, “Way too many gun owners still seem to believe that any regulation of the right to keep and bear arms is an infringement. The fact is, all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be.”
Guns & Ammo editor Jim Bequette later wrote that the article was intended to “generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights.” Instead, gun rights activists took to the internet in their thousands to voice near-unanimous displeasure, and to threaten a boycott of the magazine and its advertisers. Gun control groups also seized upon the article, which the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence posted on Facebook with the caption: “the editor (sic) of Guns & Ammo makes an argument for gun regulation.”
Shortly thereafter, Mr Metcalf was handed his marching orders, and Mr Bequette resigned. In an apology posted on the Guns & Ammo website, the departing editor wrote, “Historically, [the magazine’s] tradition in supporting the Second Amendment has been unflinching... In publishing Metcalf’s column, I was untrue to that tradition, and for that I apologise.”
Despite interview requests from several major media outlets, Mr Metcalf chose to issue his own response via the gun community newsletter Outdoor Wire, and claimed that his firing came about after Guns & Ammo’s parent company, IMO, “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.”
In the piece, Mr Metcalf restated his commitment to the “Constitutional right to acquire, keep, and bear arms,” but expressed concern that “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… simply because they dared to open a discussion or ask questions about a politically sensitive issue.”
Mr Metcalf, who lives in Illinois, campaigned for “concealed carry” legislation allowing citizens to carry a concealed firearm in public, with a permit. This year, the state became the last in the US to pass such a law.
He is the third specialist guns writer in recent years to lose his job after straying from the strict gun community consensus. In 2007, the Outdoor Channel suspended its show Jim Zumbo Outdoors after its host, hunting enthusiast Jim Zumbo, expressed support for a ban on assault rifles for hunting. Last year Jerry Tsai, editor of Recoil magazine, was forced to resign after suggesting a machine gun specifically designed to penetrate body armour ought not to be made available to civilians.