Jim Bequette, the editor in chief of Guns & Ammo, issued an abject apology Thursday for the magazine's recent editorial advocating gun regulation, saying he would resign immediately from his post atop the firearms magazine.
The author of the column, contributing editor Dick Metcalf, was also shown the door, Mr. Bequette said in his letter of apology.
"I made a mistake by publishing the column," Mr. Bequette said in the letter, which was posted to the Guns & Ammo website. "I thought it would generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights. I miscalculated, pure and simple. I was wrong, and I ask your forgiveness."
Mr. Metcalf's column, which appeared on the final page of the December issue, argues that gun regulation does not equal infringement of the Second Amendment. "The fact is," he wrote, "all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be." Mr. Metcalf said he supported regulation for training and preparation, but did not advocate making guns illegal.
"I don't think that requiring 16 hours of training to qualify for a concealed carry license is infringement in and of itself," Mr. Metcalf wrote.
Readers poured onto the Guns & Ammo Facebook page Tuesday and Wednesday, demanding the magazine fire Mr. Metcalf. Many said they would stop reading Guns & Ammo and others called for an advertiser boycott. The magazine and its parent company, InterMedia Outdoors, stayed quiet as the negative comments piled up.
Mr. Bequette did not mince words in his apology.
Let me be clear: Our commitment to the Second Amendment is unwavering. It has been so since the beginning. Historically, our tradition in supporting the Second Amendment has been unflinching. No strings attached. It is no accident that when others in the gun culture counseled compromise in the past, hard-core thinkers such as Harlon Carter, Don Kates and Neal Knox found a place and a voice in these pages. When large firearms advocacy groups were going soft in the 1970s, they were prodded in the right direction, away from the pages of "Guns & Ammo."
In publishing Metcalf's column, I was untrue to that tradition, and for that I apologize. His views do not represent mine -- nor, most important, "Guns & Ammo"'s. It is very clear to me that they don't reflect the views of our readership either.
Mr. Bequette, also group editorial director at InterMedia Outdoors, said in the letter that he had already planned to hand the reins of the magazine to a new editor, Eric Poole, on Jan. 1 -- but was making the change effective immediately because of recent events. Mr. Poole had overseen the magazine's special interest publications "Book of the AR-15" and "Trigger."
"Guns & Ammo will never fail to vigorously lead the struggle for our Second Amendment rights, and with vigorous young editorial leadership such as Eric's, it will be done even better in the future," Mr. Bequette wrote.
Discussion on the magazine's Facebook page Thursday turned from a one-sided pile-on to a more wide-ranging argument about gun regulation and the role of a magazine covering the industry. A mix of readers applauded Mr. Bequette's letter, while others said they still planned to abandon the magazine. A post from a commenter claiming to be an Army veteran in favor of gun regulation set off another similarly heated argument on the topic.