Guns & Ammo magazine is facing stiff backlash from its readers after publishing an editorial in its December issue supporting gun regulation.
The magazine's Facebook page has been inundated in the last 24 hours with people claiming they've either canceled their subscriptions or pledging to never buy another issue until Dick Metcalf, the contributing editor behind the article, is fired.
Mr. Metcalf's editorial, which appears on the December issue's final page, argues that gun regulation does not equal infringement of the Second Amendment. "The fact is," he writes, "all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be."
That position did not sit well with readers of "the world's most widely read firearms magazine," as Guns & Ammo describes itself. Unlike a Field & Stream or Outdoor Life, which focus on hunting and fishing, Guns & Ammo is specifically about the hardware, with articles rating guns and ammunition, offering tips for upgrading guns and, on its website, ranking the best conceal-and-carry states (Arizona). And while there are ads from marketers including Wrangler and Peak antifreeze, the bulk of the ads in print come from manufacturers of guns, ammunition, accessories and retailers offering such items.
Numerous commenters said they planned to boycott advertisers in the magazine and implored others to do so as well.
"I have read Guns and Ammo for most of my life, but due to Dick Metcalf's latest article I will no longer buy your magazine and will contact your advertisers and ask them to withdraw funding for your magazine unless you fire Mr Metcalf," a commenter wrote.
Some Twitter users have also expressed their displeasure over the editorial.
And a number of conservative blogs and websites, including Breitbart.com, have weighed in. Meanwhile, the magazine's Facebook and Twitter accounts have avoided the topic.
Guns & Ammo Publisher Chris Agnes did not respond to several Ad Age emails. Jim Bequette, the magazine's editor in chief, also did not respond to an email.
A number of advertisers, including Beretta, laser-sight-maker Viridian and Sneaky Pete Holsters and ammunition manufacturer Hornady did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Metcalf was not calling to make guns illegal, but he does support regulation when it comes to training and preparation. "I firmly believe that all U.S. citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, but I do not believe that they have a right to use them irresponsibly," Mr. Metcalf continues later in the column (emphasis his). "And I do believe their fellow citizens by the specific language of the Second Amendment, have an equal right to enact regulatory laws requiring them to undergo adequate training and preparation for the responsibility of bearing arms."
The outrage seems to revolve not around the suggestion of training, but around Mr. Metcalf's interpretation of the Second Amendment.
On the TruthAboutGuns.com, site Publisher Robert Farago wrote: "Metcalf's bone-headed, uninformed, patently obvious misinterpretation of the Second Amendment's introductory clause isn't as bad as the ... assertion that the [Second Amendment] only applies to Americans in a militia, but it's the next worst thing." (There are 327 comments on that piece alone.)
The editorial has drawn tacit approval from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a lobbying group in favor of strict gun control. The organization started a discussion on its own Facebook page around the piece, drawing mostly support from its Facebook followers. That has also rankled Guns & Ammo's readership.
"I see the Brady Campaign liked Dick Metcalf's editorial," a Facebook commenter wrote. "Shouldn't that set off some warning bells for -somebody- at G&A???"
Ad pages in Guns & Ammo are off 2.7% this year through November, according to the Media Information Newsletter. Its total paid and verified circulation is up 7% to 416,224 through the first half of 2013, according to its publishers statement filed with the Alliance for Audited Media.
The magazine's website experienced a traffic surge in March when the latest gun control debate in Washington peaked, MIN reported in May.