November 8, 2013
This week, Dick Metcalf has been fired by his longtime employer and cursed, threatened and damned by many of his former readers for something he wrote. And he's had no opportunity to respond. To me, that's unfair, especially among people supposedly on the same side. Some of you are already hot under the collar and will blast me for writing this. For the record -I disagree -totally- with what he suggested, but believe Metcalf deserves the opportunity to respond. I extended the offer early this week. He chose to wait. Today, Dick Metcalf responds. He will also be a guest on Tom Gresham's Gun Talk Radio this Sunday, November 10.
When the present controversy erupted a week ago, I was asked by Guns & Ammo/InterMedia management to write the following "clarification and elaboration" on the December Backstop column for use on the G&A website. I did so, but the decision was made to wait and see how the situation developed. I was also asked to hold off on making any comments in any other forum, and no other response appeared in any G&A/IMO forum at all. Then, after Paul Erhardt's column appeared in the Shooting Wire yesterday (http://www.shootingwire.com/features/228219), IMO was contacted by two major firearms industry manufacturers, stating that they would do no further business with IMO if it continued with its present personnel structure. Within hours, Jim Bequette resigned as Editor of Guns & Ammo, and my relationship with all IMO publications and TV shows was terminated.
From its inception as "Cooper's Corner" in 1986 the back page column in Guns & Ammo has been intentionally designed to address controversial issues, and to invite reader response. By that standard, the December edition certainly succeeded--some might say, too well. But our intention was to provoke a debate, not to incite a riot (which is illegal under laws regulating the 1st Amendment).
In today's political climate within the community of firearms owners, even to open a discussion about whether 2nd Amendment rights can be regulated at all, is to be immediately and aggressively branded as anti-gun and anti-American by outspoken hard-corps pro-gunners who believe the answer is an absolute "NO!" And yes, I am fully aware of the many and varied historical/legal definitions of the term "well-regulated," and how they are used and misused.
I am also fully aware that the different rights enumerated in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and following amendments are different, and are regulated differently. But they are all regulated in some form or fashion, hopefully appropriate to their particular provisions. I further clearly understand that owning or driving a vehicle is not a constitutional right, and that keeping and bearing arms is. But both involve issues of public safety, which is why both are of great and immediate interest to a great number of Americans for much the same reasons. Should we not speak of both in the same sentence?
Let me make myself clear (again): I believe without question that all U.S. citizens have an absolute Constitutional right to acquire, keep, and bear arms.
At the same time, how can anyone deny that the 2nd Amendment is already regulated by innumerable federal, state, and local statutes, and always has been? Even the Supreme Court's widely applauded Heller and McDonald decisions affirming an individual right to keep and bear arms, and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals' Moore ruling overturning the Illinois ban on concealed carry, specifically held that other firearms laws and regulations do pass constitutional muster.
Do we all agree with every part of those rulings? Of course not. I personally do not. But these are laws; now part of the organic fabric of the Constitution, and we ignore them at our peril. Should we now hold that those rulings themselves are unconstitutional?
All 50 states now have individual statutes or constitutional provisions regulating concealed firearms carry. The vast majority require state-issued permits, and most require some type of training to qualify. Are all those laws unconstitutional infringements of the 2nd Amendment? Should we entirely oppose their existence? Should we obtain concealed-carry licenses anyway? Are we violating the Constitution ourselves if we do? On these issues reasonable gun-owners may reasonably differ (although you wouldn't know it from what erupted on the Guns & Ammo website, G&A Facebook pages, and many other firearms forums following the appearance of the December Backstop column).
Myself, I would rather carry legally, than carry illegally and risk prison. Given the fact an Illinois concealed carry law now does exist, I have no problem spending 16 hours of my life under its training requirement. And I will. I am glad Illinois finally passed a concealed carry law. Do I believe training is a good thing? Of course I do. Do I believe the onerous fees and procedures imposed by Illinois' anti-gun legislators to reduce the number of applicants are an "infringement?" Of course I do. I'm applying for a license anyway. But that's just me.
Difficult as it may be for some to believe, To those who have expressed their vigorous opposition to the content of the December column (and to my continued existence on this planet), I would pose these questions:
1. If you believe the 2nd Amendment should be subject to no regulation at all, do you therefore believe all laws prohibiting convicted violent repeat criminals from having guns are unconstitutional? Should all such laws be repealed?
2. Do you also believe all laws establishing concealed-carry licenses are unconstitutional?
3. Do you have a concealed-carry license anyway?
4. Are you thereby violating the Constitution yourself?
I would hope this discussion could continue.