You may be familiar with the Bizarro Code, the legal “system” devised by inhabitants of the cube-shaped planet of htrae (“Earth,” spelled backwards), who were imperfect duplicates of Superman, Lois Lane, and their extended Super-family of friends. The code read:
“Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!”
Granted, it was a little simplistic. But it had its own internal logic, and besides, its intent was to amuse readers of a children’s comic book.
Now we have the Venola Code, which makes the Bizarro Code look like Hammurabi. Unfortunately, it’s no laughing matter.
Its genesis was a column by Dick Metcalf, a decades-long writer and columnist for various Intermedia Outdoors publications, which specialize in “gun” and “ammo” magazines, including, oddly enough, Guns & Ammo. Metcalf’s other credits include helping draft and pass the Federal Firearm Owners Protection Act, which loosened many gun restrictions passed into law following the assassination of Robert Kennedy. In short, the self-described “Second Amendment fundamentalist” is no softy when it comes to Americans owning firearms.
However, in his December Guns & Ammo column titled “Let’s Talk Limits,” Metcalf proposed that owners of concealed weapons be required to take a 16-hour training course. He added, “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.”
This deeply, deeply offended members of what can only be called the Irresponsible Community. A firestorm of letters and phone calls to G&A demanded that Metcalf be “tarred and feathered” and otherwise put out of his misery. Longtime readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions. Two of Intermedia Outdoors’ biggest advertisers demanded that Metcalf be fired.
Their umbrage was perfectly encapsulated in this comment by former Guns & Ammo editor Richard Venola, who chimed in, “We are locked in a struggle with powerful forces … who will do anything to destroy the Second Amendment. The time for ceding some rational points is gone.”
There you have it: the Venola Code. When it comes to matters of the Second Amendment, “Us make opposite of rational points! Us love firearms! Us hate nuance! Is big crime to make reasonable argument in Gun World!”
The gist of many of the rage-fueled tirades regarding Metcalf’s column was “If we give ONE INCH, make ONE concession, even on something that is common sense, then the federal government, led by Obama personally, will break into our homes and seize all our weapons.”
It mirrored some of the “open the floodgates” fear-based arguments made by those who oppose gay marriage: let gays wed, and the next thing you know, people will be demanding the right to marry their turtles!
That goes a long way towards explaining why, since the Sandy Hook shootings, the vast majority of gun-related laws passed actually loosen restrictions. And a proposal by Obama to limit gun access to the mentally ill is going nowhere in Congress. I suspect a lot of congressmen fear the law would apply to them.
In regard to Metcalf’s column, Venola’s Code effectively states that if someone puts a concealed weapon down his trousers and blows his nuts off because he wasn’t trained to affix the safety latch, well, that’s a small price to pay for freedom.
Irrational? Of course! That’s precisely why it’s a welcomed position — and suggesting otherwise is tantamount to treason.
It’s impossible to pass laws when one side argues that “rationality” is off the table.
Just ask Dick Metcalf. Within 24 hours of publication of “Let’s Talk Limits,” he wasn’t talking “limits” or anything else to Guns & Ammo readers. He was fired, expelled, and labeled gun nut non-grata.
Bizarro world, indeed.
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