Dick Metcalfe in the New York Times

This article has been in my tabs for days, because I wanted to add something more than just a link to it, but the words either just weren’t coming, or it was stuff I’ve already said about it. It’s my opinion that after this article, I don’t think Dick Metcalfe can be forgiven. I was actually more willing to forgive and forget with Jim Zumbo, who said something far worse and more damaging, than I am willing to forgive Dick Metcalfe after reading this article in the NY Times. Zumbo at least made an attempt at attrition and making amends, but Metcalfe has gone and offered the Times a narrative about how crazy and extreme those gun nuts are.

I will maintain until I’m blue in the face that Metcalfe didn’t step in it because he spoke of moderation. He stepped in it because what he said was ignorant. His use of “well-regulated” was right out of the anti-gun playbook, despite it having long been explained in proper context by respected scholars. He called for a specifically enumerated constitutional right to be conditioned on a requirement which is not been deemed acceptable for any other right. He stood by a ridiculously lengthy training requirement, when there is absolutely no evidence that training requirements, regardless of length, lead to better outcomes. Yet he supported them as a prior restraint on the exercise of an enumerated fundamental right.

I’ve always been of the opinion that if you take an idiot, and train him for 16 hours, what you end up with is an idiot who can certifiably manage to sit still for 16 hours. The idiot part tends to rule over whatever training you think you’re giving them, and for those people, 16, 20, or 50 hours won’t make a difference. But since we can’t legally say “Well, this right is only for non-idiots,” you err on the side of freedom and have faith that most people will do the right thing.

24 Responses to “Dick Metcalfe in the New York Times”

  1. Flubnut says:

    Put aside all the ignorant things he said. Even if he was just trying to “be moderate”, he would still be taking the huge risk of alienating his core audience: big time gun people. Not talking about your average CCW carrier with an LCP, but people who fundamentally believe in the Second Amendment. It would be like Jessie Jackson opining that maybe we should stop using diversity as part of college admissions, or Billie Jean King wondering aloud if civil unions really are enough for gay couples. Regardless of how well-intentioned they were trying to be about “having a discussion”, they’d be run out of town. Immediately. Violently. Probably off the planet if their former-core-supporters could manage it. So while some might see this episode as some sort of proof that all gun owners are fundamental extremists, you’d get the same reaction from any other dedicated subgroup, if one of their most visible leaders put their foot in their mouth.

    • TS says:

      So while some might see this episode as some sort of proof that all gun owners are fundamental extremists…

      Maybe that should be the take away. The narrative this past year has been that it’s a small subset of gun owners who are “extremist” (in the eyes of gun control folks), but we see a publication company go into full damage control mode when a columnist says something that 90% of us are supposed to agree with.

      • Archer says:

        That should be a clue that The Narrative is wrong. Mathematically speaking, in a standard distribution, “extremist” points (especially “fundamental extremist” points, a.k.a. “outliers”) cannot be within 2 standard deviations of the median (to non-statisticians, “within 2 std. dev.’s” usually covers approximately 95% of the curve).

        In other, plainer terms, if 90% of us agree that Dick Metcalf stepped in it – hard – and have little-to-no sympathy for him, that cannot be an “extremist” view. It’s more like “popular opinion” or “conventional wisdom.”

        Let’s take it a step further. Even if it’s just 90% of gun owners (approx. 40% of Americans) believe he stepped in it and all non-gun-owners side with Dick (which I’d have a hard time accepting), that’s still 35-40% of the general population against him. At best, ~1 std. dev. from the median, or common enough to not be “extremism.”

        And there you have it. A mathematical proof that The Narrative is a lie! ;)

    • David Hart says:

      I was unaware of this theory that my support of the 2nd amendment is proportional to size of the gun I carry. They came for the dumbass who used the “shouting fire in a theater” argument and I was silent because that’s one terrible argument, but when they eventually came for the insufficiently zealous people with pocket pistols I was all alone but for 6+1 rounds of anemic ammo.

  2. Jack says:

    It’s not just the ignorance. It’s that it was combined with a preening arrogance.

    The guy was affronted that the rabble dared to question his wisdom. Look at his NYT whine, most of his ire is that the common gun owners (IE his pool of potential customers) had the audacity to question *him*, and then had the gal to no longer want to pay for his product.

    So of course the Times ignores that his “grand bargain” was based on ignorant prattle.

    Facts don’t matter, what matters is that Dick had the right pedigree and had the right *intentions*.

  3. Andy B. says:

    To me the most unforgivable thing he said was “all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be.” I can see acknowledging the sad historical fact that constitutional rights have always been treated as negotiable, but saying that they need to be, is essentially to admit that the constitution is just window dressing for the totalitarianism of political expediency. We should be resisting that, not caving in to it and endorsing it!

    • Sebastian says:

      Yeah, it’s a lot of subtle things like that which reveal a certain mindset. A better way to say it is that all constitutional rights have a certain scope. Few would argue that freedom of religion means you can engage in human sacrifice, or that freedom of speech means you can go into a bank with a note saying you’re going to rob the place. But that’s a scope issue. It’s not really “regulating” the right. And it’s a far cry from suggesting that we can precondition the exercise of a right on some training regimen prescribed by government officials.

      • Andy B. says:

        The scope really comes down to whether practicing the right directly impinges on the rights of others. Obviously, murder in the name of religion denies the rights of those sacrificed, and the stick-up note denies the bank’s right to conduct their business without threats and forceful disruptions.

        And with that I’ll save the angels and pinheads for another time. You know the rap anyway. :-)

        • AnOregonian says:

          You even see that concept born out in Justice Holmes’ statements, “falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.

          It’s rarely the right that is being regulated, but what negative effects you can cause with it.

          • AnOregonian says:

            Oops, not sure how I screwed that up, only “falsely” and “causing a panic” were supposed to be in bold.

    • Roberta X says:

      One of the things that bugs me is the failure to distinguish between penalties for bad acts and prior restraint. You can shout “fire” in a crowded theatre, or hand the bank teller a note that says, “Hand over the money of the dog gets it,” and you’ll find yourself under arrest (or named in a warrant) shortly after. But in gun-ban land, you can’t even buy a banned firearm or a normal-capacity magazine, a gun that’s too small, too big or too black. It’s not even “malum per se” vs. “malum prohibitum;” it’s the difference between being able to touch the stove burner (even though you otta know better) and having the stove railed off out of reach in case you might even think about touching it.

  4. HappyWarrior6 says:

    My prediction: he will be scarfed up by “Americans for Reaponsivle Solutions.” He will be their new, obnoxious mouthpiece. Every whore has his price. We know Metcalfe has his and has shown his hand.

  5. aerodawg says:

    Talk about burning a bridge, well he just dropped a B-52 load worth of napalm on this one. I hope he’s happy working for dying left wing rags like the NYT because he’ll never work anywhere else…

  6. Archer says:

    In response to all this new discussion on the Founders’ definition of “well-regulated,” who wants to help compile a list of “2A proxies”?

    The rules are simple: 1. It must, as closely as possible, match the language of the Second Amendment, including the phrases “well-regulated,” “the right of the people,” and “shall not be infringed”; and 2. it must encompass a facet of life most people take for granted.

    Possible example: “A well-regulated religious site, being necessary for the free worship of a citizen’s deity of choice, the right of the people to keep and maintain church/temple/mosque facilities and ceremonies, shall not be infringed.”

    The point is to show how ridiculous the notion of “well-regulated == subject to laws and regulations” really is. Bonus points if it applies (like the example) to something clearly covered by other, existing BoR amendments.

    Who wants to help? ;)

    • Matt says:

      “A well-regulated library, being necessary for the smooth dissemination of knowledge and literatuire, the right of the people to keep and read books, shall not be infringed.”.

    • Alpheus says:

      A well-regulated household, being necessary for the raising of families in the tradition of liberty, the right of the people to not be required to quarter soldiers, shall not be infringed, except in times of war, as proscribed by Congress.

      (I’ve always had a soft spot for the Third Amendment.)

  7. BC says:

    And, of course, then you have douchebags like Leonard Pitts, Jr. who are only too happy to point to the NYT article as a case-study in, “See! See how extreme and unreasonable those gun nuts are?!?! They even ate one of their own!”

    I hate these people. I really, genuinely hate them.

    • Alpheus says:

      On the one hand, I really despise how Pitts throws out “The First and Fourth Amendments are highly regulated!” as though that’s a good thing…

      At the same time, I think it’s good to see “They even ate one of their own” every now and then. The fact that the Smith and Wesson brand almost died, when they made deals with politicians to effect gun control, is a good reminder that gun folk are determined to preserve their rights.

      Indeed, even that Pitts article has several people pointing out that they don’t trust gun control measures: they do nothing to prevent crime, and are merely stepping stones to banning guns. (And the fact that there are five against, zero for, the article, seems to indicate to me that no one is believing the conclusions of stories like this…)

  8. SPQR says:

    As stupid as Metcalf’s piece was, I am still suspicious that the editor published it as some sort of sabotage act that backfired on both of them.

  9. Gunnutmegger says:

    Metcalf taught history at Yale and Cornell. Not exactly the resume of one of “us”. And certainly the last person to be able to credibly claim that “well-regulated” refers to laws.

    And remember that Metcalf lives in Illinois which where the enhanced training requirement was proposed. Metcalf owns a shooting range there, where training classes are held. His position is starting to make more sense, isn’t it? It was all cynical self-interest.

    And let’s not forget Hornady, who conducts public relations events at Metcalf’s range and coincidentally decided to support him in this situation (their walkback notwithstanding). I have bought my last Hornady product.

  10. Tam says:

    “But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.”


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