Veteran gun journalist Dick Metcalf has surfaced in a New York Times article two months after his ouster from Guns & Ammo magazine, revealing the inner workings of pro-gun reporting and what you can and cannot say on the topic these days.
“I’ve been vanished, disappeared,” said Metcalf of his firing to Ravi Somaiya. “Now you see him. Now you don’t.”
His ouster stemmed from his “Backpage” column for the December 2013 issue of the magazine, entitled “Let’s Talk About Limits: Do certain firearms regulations really constitute infringement?” — which led to outrage among pro-gun enthusiasts and advertisers.
“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 in his column. “The fact is, all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be.”
Reaction to the column (which you can read in full here), meant to spark discussion within the gun-owning community, was instead marked with angry comments, emails, and even death threats. Editor Jim Bequette, who approved the column, and Metcalf were fired.
From The Times:
His experience sheds light on the close-knit world of gun journalism, where editors and reporters say there is little room for nuance in the debate over gun laws. Moderate voices that might broaden the discussion from within are silenced. When writers stray from the party line promoting an absolutist view of an unfettered right to bear arms, their publications — often under pressure from advertisers — excommunicate them.
“We are locked in a struggle with powerful forces in this country who will do anything to destroy the Second Amendment,” said Richard Venola, a former editor of Guns & Ammo. “The time for ceding some rational points is gone.”
The Times report also ventures into the inner workings of the gun journalism culture, where gun manufacturers and gun journalists often work together to ensure positive reviews of guns and accessories.
“Say you write about boats,” Venola told The Times. “At some point you’re going to end up on the sun deck of a boat, downing sundowners after testing one, with the guy who makes it. It’s just how it happens.”
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