mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Gun Nuts Target One Of Their Own”: No Space For People Of Good Will To Seek Common Ground

Here is what he said: “…all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be.”

It would seem to be a self-evident truth. After all, your First Amendment right to freedom of speech is regulated. If you don’t believe it, write something libelous about a guy with deep pockets and man-eating lawyers. Your Fourth Amendment right to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures is regulated and then some. If you don’t believe that, pick up your phone and ask the NSA agent tapping your line.

Unfortunately for him, Dick Metcalf, who made the aforementioned observation, was not referring to the First Amendment or the Fourth. No, he was talking about the Second. He’s been out of work ever since.

We are indebted to New York Times reporter Ravi Somaiya for bringing this story to light on Sunday. Metcalf, who lives in Barry, Illinois, is not a gun hater. To the contrary we are told that he is — or was, at any rate — one of the most prominent gun journalists in the country, a self-described “Second Amendment fundamentalist” who, at 67, has devoted most of his adult life to gun rights. He hosted a TV program about guns. Gun makers flew him around the world and sent him their products for review. And he had a regular column in Guns & Ammo magazine.

In his December column, Metcalf offered a nuanced argument that gun enthusiasts should accept some minor regulation of their Second Amendment rights. Specifically, he said, a requirement that people who wanted to carry concealed weapons undergo 16 hours of training was not “excessive.” The way his fellow gun lovers responded to this, you’d have thought he’d argued for U.N. confiscation of every gun, arrow and slingshot in America.

There were death threats. He lost his show. Subscription cancelations poured in. Advertisers demanded he be fired. And he was.

The community he had supported so faithfully had made him a non-person. See, that community has a simple credo: guns — no restrictions. And even the slightest deviation from that absolutist mantra is grounds for expulsion. If you are only with them 99 percent, you are not with them at all. George Orwell had a word for it: groupthink.

Metcalf’s experience is eye-opening, disheartening and worth remembering next time there is a mass shooting — they come with the regularity of buses — and you find yourself wondering why we can’t all agree on some simple, common-sense ideas to take weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of those who should not have them.

Why not expanded background checks? Why not mandatory gun-safety classes? Why not some system of mental-health reporting?

Think of Metcalf when you hear yourself asking those questions. Then ask yourself how many other Metcalfs must be out there, how many other gun-rights advocates who know in their hearts something has gone haywire when mass shootings are so frequent they barely count as news. And maybe these people would speak up as Metcalf did — except they know they’d be treated as Metcalf was. So they say nothing. And silence enforces silence.

This is the tragedy of the American gun debate. It offers no space for people of good will to seek common ground. Gun-rights advocates have embraced a “with us or agin us” ethos under which even someone as unimpeachably pro-gun as Dick Metcalf becomes an enemy just because he has a (slightly) different idea.

For their sake and the country’s, thoughtful gun owners must find the moral courage to face and fix that sad state of affairs. Until they do, the debate over guns is likely to ricochet from one mass tragedy to the next without ever finding consensus. It takes two sides to reach consensus.

And in America, one side’s not even trying.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., The National Memo, January 8, 2014

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Gun Control, Guns | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“When A Gun Advocate Dissents”: In The Gun World, Straying From The Party Line Leads To Vilification And Condemnation

It’s not as if Dick Metcalf was some kind of gun control fanatic.

On the contrary, he’s a gun guy through and through, such an unyielding defender of the Second Amendment that last year he led the charge to push through a law giving the residents of Pike County, Ill., where he lives, the right to carry concealed guns without a permit. He called the practice “constitutional carry” rather than “concealed carry.”

In the early 1980s, he and a handful of friends started a successful gun club, called the Pike Adams Sportsmen’s Alliance, which is located on Metcalf’s farm in Barry, Ill. A few years later, he played an important role in lobbying for the federal Firearm Owners Protection Act, which loosened many of the gun restrictions that had become law after the assassination of Robert Kennedy. A friend of his told me that Metcalf had even written some of the language in the bill.

Mostly, though, Metcalf, 67, was known as a writer for magazines owned by InterMedia Outdoors, a publisher of gun periodicals that include the industry bible, Guns & Ammo. He did videos on subjects like “Guns for Family Home Defense” and wrote articles with headlines like “Smith & Wesson’s 12 Most Important Guns.”

It is perfectly understandable, then, that the gun world might be a little taken aback by Metcalf’s opinion piece in the December issue of Guns & Ammo calling for some modest gun regulation. “I firmly believe that all U.S. citizens have a right to keep and bear arms,” he wrote, “but I do not believe that they have a right to use them irresponsibly.” The article went on to call for mandatory training for gun owners. That’s all. Such limited regulation, he argued, did not constitute an infringement on anyone’s constitutional rights.

When people like me read an article like that, it seems momentarily possible that gun advocates and gun control advocates might be able to find some common ground. Much in the way that many gun control activists have come to accept the legitimacy of the Second Amendment — something that hasn’t always been the case — here was a man on the other side of the divide saying that some sensible regulation didn’t necessarily lead down a “slippery slope” to confiscation. If we are ever to have a sane gun policy, we desperately need people from both camps to meet somewhere in the middle.

But when people like me see the reaction from gun advocates to Metcalf’s tame proposal, it all seems hopeless again. Robert Farago, who maintains a blog called The Truth About Guns, started the ball rolling by linking to — and denouncing — Metcalf’s “diatribe.” He went on to describe the article as a “bone-headed, uninformed, patently obvious misinterpretation of the Second Amendment.” Other bloggers piled on. On the Guns & Ammo Facebook page, subscribers demanded Metcalf’s head, even as they canceled their subscriptions.

Finally, according to a blog post Metcalf wrote, two major gun manufacturers told InterMedia Outdoors that they would pull all their advertising if something wasn’t done. That’s all it took. Within 24 hours, Metcalf was permanently banned from the company’s publications. And the longtime editor of Guns & Ammo, Jim Bequette, who was planning to retire at the end of the year, was pushed out as well.

Before departing, however, Bequette wrote a groveling apology, which ran on the magazine’s website. He described his decision to publish Metcalf’s article as “a mistake” and took pains to remind readers that Guns & Ammo had always been the hardest of hard-liners. “It is no accident that when others in the gun culture counseled compromise in the past, hard-core thinkers…found a place and a voice in these pages,” he wrote. With that, capitulation was complete.

If you want to understand why so few gun owners are willing to stand up to the National Rifle Association, even though the majority disagree with the N.R.A.’s most extreme positions, here was a vivid example. Straying from the party line leads to vilification and condemnation that would give anybody pause.

My guess is that Dick Metcalf always knew what he was in for — all the more reason writing his article took guts. In the aftermath, he was the only one who could still hold his head up high. On a blog called The Outdoor Wire, he wrote a lengthy response to his critics. He didn’t back down one iota. Describing himself as “disappointed” at the reaction to his article, he added, “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.”

Maybe there’s hope yet.

 

By: Joe Nocera, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, November 8, 2013

November 10, 2013 Posted by | Gun Control, Guns | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: