In response to the recent uproar over an opinion article by longtime gun writer Dick Metcalf, Guns & Ammo editor Jim Bequette released an apology to readers stating that both he and Metcalf would be leaving the magazine. Metcalf, a technical editor for Guns & Ammo, wrote the editorial in the “Backstop” section of the magazine’s December edition. In it he discussed gun control, the Second Amendment, and his beliefs on infringements and regulations of rights.
“The fact is, all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be,” Metcalf penned in the editorial.
Reactions from the magazine’s readers came swiftly and were overwhelmingly negative. Bequette later wrote that he published the article in the hopes of starting a “healthy exchange of ideas on gun control.” Instead, some of the magazine’s subscribers took the editorial to mean that the publication was moving towards accepting gun control and called the article a betrayal. Many visited Guns & Ammo’s Facebook, venting their anger there.
“Not buying another one of your magazines until Metcalf is fired,” one online commentor wrote. “Also [sic] will not be supporting companies that advertise with you until this is resolved.”
Others called the publication “cowardly.” Although Bequette emphasized that the editorial did not represent the views of the magazine at large, the damage was already done. Former Guns & Ammo readers called for a boycott while gun rights advocates also expressed their concern over Metcalf’s article.
The publication was not without support, however, and the editorial was highlighted by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
“In an upcoming column sure to shock many of his readers, the editor of Guns & Ammo makes an argument for gun regulation,” the organization wrote on its Facebook page.
This however, only further agitated critics.
“Sure Metcalf’s bone-headed, uninformed, patently obvious misinterpretation of the Second Amendment’s introductory clause isn’t as bad as the antis’ assertion that the [Second Amendment] only applies to Americans in a militia, but it’s the next worst thing,” wrote Robert Farago, publisher of the popular gun blog The Truth About Guns.
Bequette released the apology on Wednesday, and it can be read in its entirety below:
From Jim Bequette, editor, “Guns & Ammo” Magazine:
As editor of “Guns & Ammo,” I owe each and every reader a personal apology.
No excuses, no backtracking.
Dick Metcalf’s “Backstop” column in the December issue has aroused unprecedented controversy. Readers are hopping mad about it, and some are questioning “Guns & Ammo”’s commitment to the Second Amendment. I understand why.
Let me be clear: Our commitment to the Second Amendment is unwavering. It has been so since the beginning. Historically, our tradition in supporting the Second Amendment has been unflinching. No strings attached. It is no accident that when others in the gun culture counseled compromise in the past, hard-core thinkers such as Harlon Carter, Don Kates and Neal Knox found a place and a voice in these pages. When large firearms advocacy groups were going soft in the 1970s, they were prodded in the right direction, away from the pages of “Guns & Ammo.”
In publishing Metcalf’s column, I was untrue to that tradition, and for that I apologize. His views do not represent mine — nor, most important, “Guns & Ammo”’s. It is very clear to me that they don’t reflect the views of our readership either.
Dick Metcalf has had a long and distinguished career as a gunwriter, but his association with “Guns & Ammo” has officially ended.
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.
I made a mistake by publishing the column. I thought it would generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights. I miscalculated, pure and simple. I was wrong, and I ask your forgiveness.
Plans were already in place for a new editor to take the reins of “Guns & Ammo” on January 1. However, these recent events have convinced me that I should advance that schedule immediately.
Your new “Guns & Ammo” editor will be Eric R. Poole, who has so effectively been running our special interest publications, such as “Book of the AR-15” and “TRIGGER.” You will be hearing much more about this talented editor soon.
“Guns & Ammo” will never fail to vigorously lead the struggle for our Second Amendment rights, and with vigorous young editorial leadership such as Eric’s, it will be done even better in the future.
The timely response from Bequette, as well as the announcement of both his and Metcalf’s departure from the magazine may change some subscribers’ minds. However, others said the editorial should have never been published in the first place and that they will be canceling their monthly subscription.
Guns & Ammo is widely considered one of the most popular firearm-related publications in print, with a reported readership of 5.8 million. The magazine was founded by avid hunter and firearms collector Robert E. Peterson in 1958, who is perhaps best known for his 400-piece collection that now resides in the National Rifle Association’s National Firearms Museum.