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Guns & Ammo editor steps down after column stokes outrage

Longtime contributor also is dismissed after writing on the difference between 'infringing' and 'regulating' the Second Amendment.

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Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 5:56 am, Sun Nov 10, 2013.

It was a magazine column designed to generate a discussion of gun rights.

"Way too many gun owners still seem to believe that any regulation of the right to keep and bear arms is an infringement," the column said. "The fact is, all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, all need to be."

Titled "Let's Talk Limits," the column was published in the December issue of Guns & Ammo, the well-known magazine based in Florida, and written by longtime contributing editor Dick Metcalf.

And it enraged readers.

Over the past few days, opposition to Metcalf's stance reached a boiling point. On Wednesday, the magazine's editor, Jim Bequette, posted an online letter of apology that addressed Guns & Ammo readers and announced that both he and Metcalf would no longer be working at the magazine.

Although he had been planning to step down Jan. 1, Bequette announced he would resign immediately, hastened by the outcry.

In his apology, Bequette wrote that he had thought the column would "generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights."

"I miscalculated, pure and simple. I was wrong, and ask for your forgiveness."

In the column, Metcalf makes the argument that there is a difference between infringing on rights, and regulating them. All constitutional rights, including those guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment, are regulated to some degree, he wrote.

"Freedom of speech is regulated. You cannot falsely and deliberately shout, 'Fire!' in a crowded theater. Freedom of religion is regulated. A church cannot practice human sacrifice. Freedom of assembly is regulated. People who don't like you can't gather an 'anti-you' demonstration on your front lawn without your permission."

Readers immediately went to the magazine's Facebook page to vent their anger:

"I will not be buying Guns & Ammo anymore."

"I've canceled my subscription and I'm NEVER coming back, and I have been a reader since 1964 and a subscriber since 1970. It is unconscionable for a GUN magazine to publish this kind of dribble that Metcalf spread!"

Bequette yielded to that anger, writing in his apology, "Dick Metcalf has had a long and distinguished career as a gun writer, but his association with Guns & Ammo has officially ended."

A response from Metcalf was posted on the website The Outdoor Wire:

"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.

"Do not 2nd Amendment adherents also believe in Freedom of Speech?"

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