Dick Metcalf. NY Times photo.

When an Atlantic piece came out profiling the former gun writing guru Dick Metcalf, we reached out to PASA Park gun range to see if Mr. Metcalf was still the President there.

None other than Dick Metcalf responded.

“Yep . . . still Founder, President, and Chairman of the Board.  I also cut the grass . . .” he wrote.

In an exchange of email, we received more than we could have ever hoped to get and frankly, we feel that we might have been a little too one-sided castigating Metcalf about his appearance at the Aspen Ideas Festival – as reported by The Atlantic.  More on that in a moment.

He expressed admiration for Guns Save Life, a regional gun rights group that formed twenty years ago on the opposite side of Illinois from where Metcalf lives.  Initially, GSL’s predecessor group were a half-dozen people meeting in the basement of a restaurant as a county sub-committee of the Illinois State Rifle Association.  Today, Guns Save Life is its own non-profit corporation, nearly two thousand paid members strong and meets in four cities each month, turning out as many as 500 people total.

Metcalf wrote that he loves our “Burma Shave”-style highway signs, including one just into Illinois on the western edge that proclaims, “DIALED 9-1-1 / AND I’M ON HOLD / SURE WISH I HAD / THAT GUN I SOLD / GUNS SAVE LIFE.COM”.  Today, we have about two dozen sets of those signs, each sporting a similar witty four-panel message with “Guns Save Life.com” on the fifth and final panel.  Over a half-million people see the messages each and every day.

He declined to give us permission to run large swaths of his emails explaining his position, citing our most recent blog post (SEE DICK RUN HIS MOUTH: Dick Metcalf disparages gun owners at Aspen Ideas Festival) on The Atlantic piece’s contents.  “It doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence” that we would treat him squarely.   Fair enough.  We’ve savaged him pretty thoroughly based upon the information we had available.

In the interests of fairness, thought it reasonable that we report his rebuttals.

He repeatedly noted that he was unaware of The Atlantic story until we brought it to his attention.  It was titled, “Why We Can’t Talk About Gun Control“.  Written by James Hamblin, it reported on Metcalf’s voluneer appearance at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which was sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.

Yes, Metcalf wrote that he knew the audience would be hostile, but viewed it as an opportunity courageously confront anti-gunners on their own ground with an open exchange of ideas.

The former Guns & Ammo writer indicated what struck him most about The Atlantic story was “how artfully the reporter managed to cast everything discussed in a bad light”.

A few points he made:

He asked how many would raise their hand if they have ever lived in a household with guns.  Two-thirds raised their hands.  A third of the audience said they personally owned a gun.  He told them he believed many who hadn’t raised their hands were lying.  “A lively exchange followed,” Metcalf wrote.

The audience in Aspen, he wrote, kept blaming the NRA for the “gun problem”.   Metcalf’s answer:  “Claiming the NRA is responsible for American firearms ownership is like blaming the AARP for the fact Americans are getting older.”   He noted that the NRA represented about six percent of gun owners, at best.  None of the culture war issues (gay rights, marijuana, etc.) are regarded by average Americans as potentially life-and-death issues compared to the right to own firearms and its role protecting their families’ safety.

About those NRA numbers?   Metcalf noted that it’s long been a tactic of both sides to inflate their membership numbers to look as strong as possible, not that he specifically doubted the NRA’s claim of 5 million plus current members.

Metcalf wrote that his answer to a question asking why he didn’t support more “common sense” gun laws was that we should either enforce the ones on the books or repeal them.  Federal laws with mandatory prison time are “unenforced by federal policy”.  To which, he reported, one participant sputtered “Well, then we should pass some new laws REQUIRING those laws to be enforced!”

About training, Metcalf wrote that he “asked the audience why, if firearm safety and training requirements were of such paramount importance, they didn’t favor firearms training be available in the public school curriculum to any student who wanted it?”  More sputtering was the response.  Yet another good point.

Metcalf summarized, “The Atlantic article was not an accurate report of the overall tenor of the session.”

“The pro-gunners who have read about it have seen me cast as a Bloomberg Quisling,” Metcalf added.

He cited bad blood between him and The Truth About Guns management for further exacerbating the terribly biased nature of The Atlantic article.

As for the idea of him looking to work for the dark side?  “Ludicrous,” he wrote.

Metcalf noted that GSL used both TTAG and The Atlantic for information, but that he was not given an opportunity at the time to offer his perspective.

We can’t dispute that.

At the end of one of his emails, there was one topic alluded to in The Atlantic that he wanted to elaborate on.  “Crayon people”.   Quote:  “…anybody who sends anonymous death threats (to me, or to Phil Robinson, or to the children of the guys who bid on the Namibia rhino cull last year), ARE crayon people.  But to say I was using that term to describe gun-owners or NRA members generally is ludicrous.”

There you have it.

Is Dick Metcalf a Bloomberg Quisling?

I doubt it.  At the same time, his ability to earn a living by writing about gun culture and guns is a thing of the past.

Frankly, I suspect that I / we owe Dick Metcalf an apology for savaging him so viciously without giving him adequate time to offer his input.

Dick, I’m sorry for that.

At the same time, I’m still not pleased about your G&A screed that led to your dismissal.

In a coming Dick Metcalf Responds, Part II:  We’ll give you his side of the story relating to his sacking at Guns & Ammo, along with the unedited story he wrote, but only part of which was published.








14 thoughts on “DICK METCALF RESPONDS, PART I: Admiration for GSL, says reporter “artfully” miscast facts on Metcalf’s Aspen Ideas appearance”
  1. This is something you would never see a lib do……admit when theyre wrong. Thats why you cant reason with them.

    1. Liberals don’t admit they’re wrong, because they’re typically convinced that’s an impossibility. In my experience, the average liberal truly believes their actions are for the benefit of society, and that if you disagree you simply aren’t educated/intelligent enough to understand. Watch the smug expression on the faces of liberal celebrities when they’re debating some issue. How difficult is it to find a photo of Obama with a horribly smug look on his face?

      Sadly, the liberals who consider themselves to be “open-minded” have a tendency to be the most closed-minded people on the planet… and I truly have no idea how to overcome this.

    2. Usually a near-death experience, or something so perceived, will often cause even the most hard-core leftists to mature into thinking adults.

      Such as when the home intruder has a knife to their throats telling them to brace themselves or the street thug who demands their valuables.

      “..bbb-bbbb-bbbb-but I’m in solidarity with you!” they would stammer. “I hate the police too!”

      And the criminal laughs and takes whatever he wants and then leaves, thinking how naive their last victim was.


  2. If more people had a civil dialogue like this, I think gun control wouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, gun control debates usually turn into nothing but childish name calling and euphemisms, typically from people on the more liberal side of the debate (but, I also recognize that there are people on the pro-gun side that act the same). Either way, props to you, John, for keeping it civil and educated.

    (Edited for Spicy)

    1. *edit* I mean “If more people had a civil dialogue like this, I think gun control WOULDN’T be an issue”

  3. Yeah, Mr. Metcalf really seemed to “step in it” with that article, it will be interesting to hear more of what he has to say.

  4. Old Dogs cannot learn new tricks
    Tigers never change their stripes
    The check is in the mail and Dick’s checks are signed by the Leftist Elite

  5. It would be great to give Mr. Metcalf a voice to explain his side. He was, after all, one of the most prominent gun writers in the last several decades.

    The issue to me is his interpretation of the Second Amendment. That is what caused this reaction. I still think he was wrong in his article. I also think a little part of that story was written to appease his ivy-league colleagues. Everyone wants acceptance but sometimes you have to pick your side.

  6. Yeah, I re-read his original post.

    He tried to claim well-regulated meant regulated by rules, not discipline. Then he tried to make the case for mandatory training.

    What was he thinking?

    I’d be curious to see if he still thinks that way or if he’s “evolved” in his thinking.


  7. Mr. Metcalf makes himself the victim of the Atlantic piece, yet fails to understand that we realized his willingness to pander away our rights under the guises of “safety” and “security” when he authored “Let’s Talk Limits” in the December 2013 G&A.

    If that wasn’t enough, he then pled his case and reinforced his “moderate” (read “concessionary”) point of view in a NY Times story titled “Banished for Questioning the Gospel of Guns” in January of ’14 (that story even used the same photo this one does)

    Now here he is again. Poor Dick Metcalf. It’s not that he was wrong, or incorrect, or mistaken. He was turned into a pariah for his “nuance”.

    No, he was turned into a pariah for failing to recognize that there are people who hate guns, and hate the people that own guns, and cannot see any justification for owning guns, who will hide their inner despot behind a smiling mask of civility and offer “only this restriction”… or “only that restriction”… with their end goal being the decimation of the 2nd Amendment.

    These people are often highly intelligent, may be wealthy, and may come across as “reasonable” or “rational”, and many own firearms themselves.

    But under their veneer of civility is a despot who has nothing but utter contempt for the masses, and make no mistake, they will never stop trying to pry those guns from our “bitterly clinging” hands.

    Sure, they own guns. But they’re “special”, “smarter” or otherwise more important than you are. A list of NYC and CA celebrities come to mind, people who attend Brady fundraising event with .38’s on their belts, and Millionaires Against Individual Guns cocktail parties with armed escorts.

    After all, the right to self defense is a right – but only if you meet their definition of worthiness.

    In the time until their end goal is realized, they will have to make do with the steps they can, like mandating “education” before you can carry a firearm in self defense, or a Poll Tax – excuse me – “application fee” – that far exceeds any actual expense before you dare exercise a right.

    The ban on “Saturday night specials” was made under the banner of “safety”, but all it did was remove a means of self defense from the working poor who could not afford a name brand American firearm. It did nothing to stem the flow of gang violence, did it?

    And while we’re on the topic, how about the “safety” we were promised after the “Brady Bill”? How about being able to walk the streets knowing the Gun Control Act of 1968 was keeping felons from getting guns? Or maybe that the National Firearms Act was saving children from mobsters with machine guns?

    He is mentioned as a teacher of history at Cornell and Yale, yet apparently he never bothered to ask “where is all the safety we were promised for all these laws, and why should we believe that more laws is the answer?”

    George Santayana wrote “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. It looks like, on many levels, Mr. Metcalf is determined to experience deja vu, in the words of Yogi Berra, “all over again”.

    1. He works for one of Obama’s Larger Fund Raisers and in pursuit of the soap box he has needed all his life he wrote what he thought of as a mild questioning and reinterpretation of the US Constitution which he supposed that no one would call him on, because after all, like Obama He’s a Constitutional Scholar. The man is a traitor to his nation and his countrymen, he sold them out for a pay check and an ego stroke.
      That Is All

    2. PS ‘Well Regulated’ means Properly Functioning, as in well regulated clock, or watch and is the reason many railroad pocket watches were called ‘Regulators’

  8. Dick still continues to show his ignorance of both the 1st and 2nd amendments. His stupidity on the basics turns him into a clueless tool of the Left. Hoping he just goes away.

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