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Metcalf ‘death threats’ warrant official investigation

Somaiya was asked to clear this up prior to publication of this column and has not responded.
Somaiya was asked to clear this up prior to publication of this column and has not responded.
David Codrea: Screenshot of tweet to Ravi Somaiya of The New York Times

Continuing with an established pattern of not backing down from a column that got him fired from Guns and Ammo magazine, gun writer Dick Metcalf has taken his case to The New York Times, giving an interview that was incorporated into a story published last Saturday.

As this column reported in November, Metcalf’s termination followed a firestorm of gun owner criticism and subscription cancellation pledges after publication of a column in which Metcalf justified government gun regulations and dismissed those being infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. The Times story is but the latest example of Metcalf not only refusing to give an inch, but of leveling charges against his critics that give anti-gunners ammunition to negatively portray the gun rights community. Never mind that countless examples of “progressive” intolerance of divergent views in their publications could be pointed out if that’s a game one wishes to engage in.

Leaving such arguments to other commentators (except to point out that Piers Morgan, who declared Phil Robertson’s beliefs should not be protected by the First Amendment, tweeted that The Times piece “says all you need to know about America's insane gun culture”), there is one allegation writer Ravi Somaiya relates about Metcalf that has not received further scrutiny or elaboration, even though the seriousness of it demands it.

“Death threats poured in by email,” he writes.

Really? Actual “death threats”? And they “poured in”?

Each one of those would be a crime.

Have these “death threats” been reported to the authorities? Which ones?

If not, why not?

After all, it’s one thing to receive a death wish, which could be argued to be protected speech. That’s an unfortunate but accepted reality that goes with the territory when speaking out on emotionally-charged issues -- this correspondent has received uncounted sentiments along those lines for years, as have readers supportive of this column, illustrated just the other day by a tolerant voice of reason wishing “a painful and agonizing death from terminal cancer [for] conservatives and their children...”

An actual death threat, however, is a most grave matter, as one can never tell if the person behind it is serious, and more to the point, if he is capable. That’s not something a prudent individual would shrug off, and by telling a New York Times reporter about it, and by then allowing millions to be so informed, it’s fair to ask if Mr. Metcalf has received bonafide threats against his life, and if so, what he intends to do about them to ensure that such presumably dangerous people are identified, apprehended and charged.

Per 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), “Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing ... any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

That makes it a federal case, with legal precedent behind it. Or several federal cases, if the use of the word “poured” was truly appropriate. If such multiple unhinged criminals as alleged in The Times piece really pledged to kill Metcalf -- to take his life, to murder him -- because of his opinion, it would be rational to assume they are likely to pose a more general danger, and it would be irresponsible not to report their messages so they could be investigated. And strictly looking at this with Metcalf’s legal interests in mind, one would think he’d want a record of having made reports, just in case he later has to use lethal force to defend himself from someone trying to carry out such a threat.

This is one area where responsible gun owners should agree, and urge Metcalf to turn over all emails and their header information to the authorities without delay, if he has not done so already.

Everyone deserves to see the allegation investigated, because it’s being repeated all over, with Pulitzer Prize-winner Leonard Pitts jumping on the bandwagon telling readers “There were death threats” in a piece temperately titled “Gun nuts target one of their own.” It's ironic, because when Pitts perceived death threats against himself, his accused tormenter faced charges, and when Pitts reported later threats, he surrounded himself with armed security. So I'm presuming he'll join in urging this be taken seriously by law enforcement.

Perhaps Somaiya, who was asked yesterday but has not responded, could clear this up before concerned citizens feel compelled by a sense of civic duty to ask the feds to investigate what sounds like a potential public danger.

Also see: "'Gun control' collaborator Dick Metcalf compares self to victims of tyranny" from Kurt Hofmann.

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When your turn to be tested comes, how will you fare? Wouldn’t it be better to stop the antis before they get that far? How can we, if most gun owners let a relative handful of activists do all the work? The latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it before the issue hits the stands. Click here to read "The Unconstitutional State.”