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June 11, 2014

House of Burgess: Heresy hunts in the gun world

Who gets to be in the club any longer?

Meet Dick Metcalf: He’s a U.S. Army veteran and journalist who, until recently, wrote for “Guns & Ammo” and hosted his own TV show on the Sportsman’s Channel, “Modern Rifle Adventures TV.”

In his well-written, clear-eyed essay titled “Let’s Talk Limits” and published in the magazine’s December 2013 issue, Metcalf focused on the first few words of the Second Amendment — namely, the “well regulated” part. I wholeheartedly agree with his statements equating ideal gun laws with the process of obtaining a driver’s license.

“I understand that driving a car is not a right protected by the Constitution, but to me the basic principle is the same,” he wrote. “I firmly believe that all U.S. citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, but I do not believe that they have a right to use them irresponsibly.”

This perfectly reasonable argument did not sit well with either the firearms consumers who bought the magazine or with two of the major gun manufacturers who advertised in it.

“The backlash was swift, and fierce,” reported Ravi Somaiya for The New York Times Jan. 4. “Readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions. Death threats poured in by email. His television program was pulled from the air.”

Now, fast-forward to May 30. An as-yet-to-be-named staffer of the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm, Institute for Legislative Action, sent out an alert to members called: “Good Citizens and Good Neighbors: The Gun Owners’ Role.”

“Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done,” reads part of the introduction. “Gun owners would do well to consider the effect their behavior has on others, whether fellow gun owners or not.”

The post was released in the wake of several noisy controversies over gun laws in the Lone Star State.

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