Dick Metcalf wrote a piece arguing that there should be some government regulation of firearms, based on the phrase "well regulated militia" used in the Constitution -- a position that was met with sharp criticism and the threat of cancelled subscriptions.
"Way too many gun owners still seem to believe that any regulation of the right to keep and bear arms is an infringement," Metcalf wrote. "The fact is, all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be."
In order to help defuse the situation, the magazine fired Metcalf. When that didn’t solve the problem, editor Jim Bequette posted a message on the magazine’s website apologizing for publishing Metcalf’s piece and announcing that he would be stepping down.
“Let me be clear: Our commitment to the Second Amendment is unwavering,” Bequette wrote. “It has been so since the beginning. Historically, our tradition in supporting the Second Amendment has been unflinching. No strings attached.”
He acknowledged that he made an error by publishing the column and tried to make it clear that Metcalf’s article did not represent his views or the views of the magazine.
“It is very clear to me that they don’t reflect the views of our readership either,” Bequette’s response continued. “I once again offer my personal apology. I understand what our valued readers want. I understand what you believe in when it comes to gun rights, and I believe the same thing.”
Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said that Metcalf’s termination was not all that surprising.
“The central thesis of the piece -- that all constitutional rights are subject to reasonable regulation, including the Second Amendment -- is so point-of-fact and obvious that even grade school kids know it,” Everitt said.
"But his termination is not surprising. The modern pro-gun movement is dominated by radical voices and brooks no dissent whatsoever," he added. "Dick Metcalf is certainly not the first moderate pro-gun commentator to have his career upended by absolutists."
“Jim Bequette had hoped Metcalf’s column would ‘generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights.’ He forgot that no such thing exists within that community. You either embrace far right orthodoxy 100 percent or you are an enemy to be silenced and destroyed.”