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Guns & Ammo Throws Editor Under the Bus

Messenger

 

Those of us who are both long time gun owners and supporters of regulations that make this society safer from gun violence breathed an ever so slight sigh of relief when Dick Metcalf wrote an editorial in the December 2013 Guns & Ammo which said what so many of us fully understand…that there are sensible firearm regulations which do not infringe on the Second Amendment, that there are common sense solutions to the “all too many examples of unsafe behavior”.

Was it a change in philosophy as this gun magazine, the largest and one of the oldest in the industry stepped a toe away from intransigence and toward sensible solutions? Apparently not.

November 6th, just a few days after the original article was published the Editor of Gun & Ammo wrote an “apology”…an apology for stifling conversation on one of the most important discussions in the national arena,  an apology for throwing one of its own under the bus…well, not exactly. Jim Bequette, the editor apologized for pissing off his “hopping mad” readers [and his “hopping mad” advertisers]. He also doubled down on Guns & Ammo’s hard core, unfettered backing of the Second Amendment and, as seems to be the rule in the gun debate, if someone comes to the table with opinions that are not lockstep with the NRA, with the enthusiast community, and more important with the gun industry…under the bus with them.

Mexican Standoff

“Dick Metcalf has had a long and distinguished career as a gunwriter, but his association with “Guns & Ammo” has officially ended.” Editor, Guns & Ammo, 11.6.13

Yep…fire him because he opened up the conversation. Fire him because he had the audacity to stand up and say “maybe we need to give this some thought”. But thought is the last thing on the mind of the gun fanboy community, the last thing on the mind of the 85 advertisers to Guns & Ammo…well, 86 if you count the monthly Viagra advertisement.

But are we back to square one, back to that point where the gun enthusiasts come to the table in lockstep, an air of absolute intransigence?  NO, we are not. Because now we know that there are folks in the gun enthusiast camp who know that the NRA’s blind support of the gun industry is wrong, who know that the best solution for gun owners is to come to the table, not throw rocks at it. That toothpaste can’t go back in the tube…it is out and now both sides of this important subject know that there is a viable third side…that of gun owners who support regulations.  And that is good.

It is somewhat ironic…or possibly just a cosmic coincidence that Dick Metcalf’s article came out just about the same time as the SLATE gun death ticker turned over 10,000. Maybe it is just a coincidence that it came out just as Virginia elected a governor who actively came out against the gun lobby in a very gun friendly state. Maybe it was just a coincidence that it came out as news of families of five, in four different states died from gunfire. Maybe it was just its time.

I was asked if Dick Metcalf would continue to work in the gun magazine industry…I strongly doubt it. That group has a very sad history of banishing anyone who dares to not stay in lockstep with their fringe opinion. And that is a very sad commentary on those in the gun enthusiast community…that they so very much fear dissent, fear that at some point the realization will gel that just maybe it is their opinion that is wrong, that their intransigence and stubborn support for the gun industry was not defined with reason, with facts, but forged from fear, uncertainty and dread…along with a request for a donation to the NRA.

If it was about the Second Amendment you would not be reading this. It is not. It is about hobbyists who like to shoot, it is about gun lobbyists defending the billion dollar gun industry, it is about a generation who does not like to hear the word “no”.

Put simply, Dick Metcalf did the right thing and he is being pilloried by gun enthusiasts, by the gun lobby and by the gun industry. Guns & Ammo did the wrong thing…throwing one of their own under the bus based on his opinions. This simple litmus test will help define you as you draw your conclusions.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

 

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The Sandy Hook Shooting Legacy – Six Months Later

Shot Glass 7

There have been 182 days since America woke up to the mind-numbing violence that erupted on Newtown, Connecticut. Six months have passed since politicians fell all over themselves trying to find the nearest camera, the nearest microphone to extend their deepest, heartfelt sympathies to the families of the 26 victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School and to promise that they would do whatever possible to make sure that the senseless tragedy never occurred again. In that six months many things have happened, most showing the worst side of Americans, our unwillingness to work together to actually do something to reduce the senseless deaths, our willingness to write-off the lives of 10,000 Americans each and every year.

In that six months – just 182 days – we have over 5,000 more dead to add to the Butcher’s Bill, over 5,000 people whose future stopped cold because of gun violence. And this past six months were not exceptionally violent, not a spike in the “normal” course of murder, manslaughter, accidents and suicides. And it is that “normal” that is so appalling. We have, as a society allowed, each year over 10,000 people to die from gun violence and another 20,000 suicides with firearms to become an acceptable reality. And more important, it is the WHY we have allowed it that is so reprehensible.

Flash

When any discussion of deaths, and ways to slow it down bubble to the top of the national zeitgeist Americans tend to step up with great support to do everything in our power to stop, or at least slow down the number of deaths. You cannot begin to count the number of organizations and grassroots groups who fight cancer, to stop its relentless killing. When a disease like Muscular Dystrophy cuts down children, society does everything it can to just make it stop. Since 1952 Jerry Lewis helped raise over $2,000,000,000 [that’s TWO BILLION] for research in MD cures.

When deaths from automobile accidents exceeded 50,000 per year in 1966, the public, government, and industry began to work on solving that deadly problem. They enacted legislation to require seat belts, to install collapsible steering columns, remove steel dashboards, make interiors of cars safer, redesign frames and bodies of cars to burn off the energy from a crash, rather than push all that energy to the occupants. As a result, with a population that has added 120 million, we have reduced deaths to under 33,000 per year and dropping. That success occurs as Americans now drive over 3,000,000,000,000 [THREE TRILLION] miles per year…three times what was driven in 1966. Further, because of the actions of MADD, deaths from drunk driving have fallen from over 60% to just over 35% in a 30 year period, due to a determined legislative and public perception campaign to stop drunks from killing on the highways.

MADD Drunk Driving Deaths crop

But the attitude about deaths from gun violence is strikingly different. Many Americans don’t react the same way to these thousands of deaths per year. They quickly respond “it happens” or “it is the price for freedom” or “guns don’t kill people, people do” or “gun owners are responsible”…all an attempt to rationalize that they care more about their hobby than they do about 30,000 lives a year being lost to gun violence. Now, they will scream Second Amendment to the top of their lungs but it boils down, by the end of each debate that they just don’t want changes to the status quo, don’t want to be inconvenienced by that additional 10 minutes required to do a background check on ALL weapon sales. They argue that gun owners are responsible, never mind that responsible gun owners have over 240,000 guns stolen from their homes and cars each year which end up in the black market; that hundreds of children a year are killed or wounded by guns that they fail to properly stow. And more irrationally they argue that their guns are to defend against a tyrannical government, and that the Second Amendment is sacrosanct, though they would be really happy if you would kindly ignore that whole “well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” part of the Second because it really, REALLY throws a curve ball into their argument.

Slate 5000

It has been a hard six month as we look at gun violence. Included in the over 5,000 killed by gun violence are attacks at 10 schools including Lone Star State and the University of Central Florida, and we have had spree killings throughout the country including Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Nevada.

Besides the two headline grabbing types of gun violence, 2013 has seen multiple deaths from multiple instances of domestic violence and family shootings. But the ones that seemed to hit the public hardest, those that were easily the most preventable involved kids picking up guns that their parents failed to stow. In April a six year old was shot and killed by a four year old in New Jersey – just two days after a four year old in Tennessee finds a deputy sheriff’s “unloaded” gun and kills the deputy’s wife. On May first, in Kentucky a two year old died from his brother’s “first gun”. One month later, tragedy was in Rusk, Texas. And in between a 15 year old is killed in Oklahoma when her little sister dropped her mother’s pistol on the kitchen counter top.

Those are seven instances of children dying from gun violence in the past six months. If I wanted to be thorough I would provide links to the 268 teens who have been killed or the 94 children under 12 who have died since Sandy Hook.

The response from those who support the intractable National Rifle Association’s position on guns are always the same…”It happens”, “Guns don’t kill people…” and the most appalling…”It is the price of freedom”. It is embarrassing that, in a 21st Century society we still have people who have such a disregard for life, that prefer a selfish, narcissistic approach that THEIR hobby is more important than the lives of 10,000 cut down by gun violence each year.

We as a society are better than this. We are better than the callous folks who just blow off unnecessary deaths because of their inconvenience and in reality an endless propaganda machine that is the NRA. The NRA has so brainwashed many of these folks with their constant “they are coming to get our guns” that the supporters simply kneejerk and parrot their responses rather than realize that the NRA is winding them up to get more and more money from them, to support their lobbying efforts for the gun industry.

NRA-Grip-on-Congress

In six months, Congress has done nothing. That’s not exactly true. Congresspersons have taken in millions of dollars from the NRA and its PAC the NRA/ILA for their re-election campaigns, monies supplied by the gun industry and members.

What they have not done, however is provide comprehensive, bipartisan solutions to begin to reduce the number of deaths from gun violence. As supporters of the NRA will tell you, gun deaths are down, and they are. What they won’t tell you is the drop began as the Brady Bill and later NICS were implemented. But, much like that annoying “well regulated Militia…” clause in the Second Amendment, facts get in the way of a good dose of fear and paranoia.

The Rise of Grassroots Action

And one last thing that seems to be very important in this past six months. While our Congresspersons have failed America, failed to build consensus solutions to save lives from gun violence, the public has shown that they have had enough. Grassroots campaigns and social media groups have banded together to push for solutions. When folks who support sensible gun laws lost one battle in April, where Congress could not even pass a simple bill to strengthen background checks so felons and the mentally ill can’t buy guns a funny thing happened.  They didn’t fold…in fact they strengthened and grew. From groups like Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns to Jim Brady’s Brady Campaign to Gabby Gifford’s Americans for Responsible Solutions to the very grassroots Occupy the NRA and It Can Happen Here and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the voices are getting louder, more organized, more united.

The voice is clear…We as a society are better than this. We will not stop until solutions are in place.

Previously Published 6/14 on LiberalAmerica.Org and ItCanHappenHere on Facebook.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip


Just Another Child Killed…Move On, Nothing To See Here

boy with rifle

Another child shot and killed another child yesterday. She was at least the 220th child or teen killed by gunfire this year. 60 of them under 12. Her name was Caroline Starks and she was TWO and lived in the sleepy little rural community of Burkesville, Kentucky. Her five year old brother took his new gift, a $100 youth model Crickett 22 caliber rifle and shot her. Her mother, who was home at the time said that the gun was “kept in the corner”.

Crickett my first rifle

There is obvious sadness in that home right now, the death of a child is horrific. The Cumberland County Sheriff says it was “Just one of those crazy accidents.” No, no it wasn’t. It was negligence and stupidity.

One law that is on the books now, and has been since 2005 regards locking mechanisms for guns, sometimes trigger locks, sometimes cable locks which are shipped from the manufacturer with each new gun. The folks at Crickett built in a mechanical lock for the gun [see video].

I have written about this before…six times just this year, just 10% of the deaths from gun violence. If you need reminded, there was the boy in New Jersey who killed his friend [link], the boy who grabbed a deputy sheriff’s gun and killed the deputy’s wife [link], the Tennessee kid who killed himself in March [link], and the list goes on [link].

The constant is that this shooting will be thrown aside just like the rest. The 60 kids under 12, from 29 states will be ignored because they are not multi-day media circuses. There is not a convenient way for the national media to bump up their ratings by focusing on these little deaths. Anderson Cooper will not jet to Burkesville Kentucky, Fox will not have it the subject of their talking heads, NBC will give it 30 seconds. Even the local newspapers and television stations will not speak of it within a week.

So they will continue to just die. Gun enthusiasts, who believe their right to own firearms is more important than the right for someone to continue to live will say “It happens” or “It is the price of freedom” or that “we have enough common sense regulations right now”. Sure they will say they are sorry it happened. But what they won’t say is that they will step up and actively work on a solution to make sure it happens less and less and less. And so the kids will just continue to be killed.

Gun enthusiasts will continue to blame everyone but the gun, politicians will continue to bury their head in the sand, hoping they don’t have to answer yet another question about gun violence and society will just turn their head away, hold their breath and say a prayer, glad that it was not their child killed…this time.

We used to be better than this.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


American Sniper Chris Kyle Killed at Gun Range

Chris Kyle

Three shootings in the past year that involve high profile gun enthusiasts. Today, former Navy Seal and author of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and another man were killed at a gun range at the Rough Creek Resort and Lodge in Glen Rose, TX. Since this occurred in the late afternoon on Saturday, all the details are not in.

January 3rd of this year in Georgia, Kentucky resident Keith Ratliff was shot and killed in his home/office, surrounded by his always available weapons. Since no weapons were stolen, it is believed that it was a personal matter gone wrong. Ratliff was a firearms manufacturer, seller, and the manager of FPSRussia, one of the most viewed sites on YouTube. This murder was covered extensively by Addicting Info.

On May 2nd, 2012, in Kingman, AZ Richard Venola, the editor of Guns & Ammo magazine shot and killed a guest in his house with a high powered rifle after a dispute.

Richard Erick Venola

He is most quoted from this assessment of the Russian AK-47 assault rifle. “When it hits the fan I want a AK-47, when Western Civilization melts down, I want a AK-47, If I am sent to another Planet and could take only one thing with me, It will be a AK-47. Because it will never stop working”

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Fringe Right Family Research Council Condemns Boy Scouts’ Policy Change

Fear, Uncertainty, Confusion and Dread [FUCD]…the hallmark of the right, folks who want to affect policy by fear rather than by facts. A group who would continue the hate and bigotry that so many on the right have shown as they fight equal rights for gays.

Today, after hearing the Boy Scouts of America’s announcement that it will change its policy, no longer directing that policy against gays from the National Council, Tony Perkins, head of the fringe conservative Family Research Council came out with a statement threatening the looming specter of pedophilia.

“The mission of the Boy Scouts is ‘to instill values in young people’ and ‘prepare them to make ethical choices,’ and the Scout’s oath includes a pledge ‘to do my duty to God’ and keep himself ‘morally straight.’ It is entirely reasonable and not at all unusual for those passages to be interpreted as requiring abstinence from homosexual conduct.”

That interpretation is only valid if, and it is a rather large IF one takes the position that gay activity is somehow morally aberrant or unethical. The reality is that it is neither of those things. Contrary to the fringe conservatives’ opinion, being gay is not a choice, it is just part of who they are, much like being straight is not a choice, it too is just a part of who they are. The position of the FRC is based on their personal religious beliefs, nothing more. And while they have every right to have their personal religious beliefs, they do not have the right to foist those bigoted, hateful beliefs on others.

The Family Research Council, which is severely lacking in “research”, has taken a hard-line stance against all things gay. In 2012 they announced that “repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy would encourage molestation of heterosexual service members and would lead to more American servicemen receiving unwelcome same-sex fellatio in their sleep.” This is part of a long line of reasoning from FRC spokesman Peter Sprigg suggesting that gay men are more likely to be sex offenders than anyone else.

This statement, along with the juxtaposition of the recent release of over 20,000 documents by the Boy Scouts of America which detail the number of inappropriate sexual contacts by heterosexual leaders against scouts from 1965 to 1985, strongly rebuke the hateful bigotry of the Family Research Council’s assertions.

The Boy Scouts of America are taking their first steps in joining society in the 21st Century. It is too bad that the Family Research Council is stuck in the 13th Century BCE.

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst. His grandfathers helped organize the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and his father was a career long butcher and union representative.

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