Dick Metcalf has been a writer and editor covering the shooting sports for a very long time, and currently makes his home at Guns & Ammo. You can read some his most recent columns online, and make your own judgments about him.

The Truth About Guns purports to have a copy of Metcalf’s December print magazine column (PDF) and seem intent on collecting Metcalf’s scalp as a traitor to the Second Amendment.

I’ve read Robert Farrago’s commentary at The Truth About Guns, and I’ve read Metcalf’s column.

Perhaps despite my belief that citizens have a constitutional right to suppressed machine guns, I’m not enough of a purist, either, because I think I understand where Metcalf is coming from, and I don’t think he should be burned at the stake for what appears to be a sloppy attempt to have a valid conversation about rights and responsibilities.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

As a shooting community, we seem to be huge on the latter half of the Second Amendment, and not so much on the first half. Find a Second Amendment rally anywhere, and you’ll hear cries of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed!” You won’t hear many cries (if any) for “a well regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state!” Do you ever wonder why that is? While I don’t purport to speak for everyone, I have a hunch.

I think it has to do with the uncomfortable fact that the first half of the Second Amendment suggests an obligation and a duty.

A “well regulated militia” would require people to sacrifice, to get in shape, learn small unit tactics, hike with heavy packs in deplorable weather conditions, give up modern conveniences, and generally suffer to become something that might pass as the sort of militia that would have a hope of surviving in today’s fourth and fifth generation warfare. As the technology of firearms have changed in the past 200 years, so have the realities of war. Necessarily, the tactics of a modern militia, whether the formal militia of the National Guard and Reserves, or the unorganized militia to which the majority of us belong to as our birthright and moral obligation have also changed.

A modern well-regulated militia—one that is smoothly functioning and in proper working order as an irregular small unit militia force of the kind the John Mosby and Max Velocity train—requires blood, sweat, and tears. It’s hard work. It’s exhausting duty. It’s a promise to future generations that you ready, willing, and able to fight and live (any unprepared idiot can die) to preserve liberty for posterity.

On the other hand, “shall not be infringed,” taken without any responsibility, is a hedonist’s choice. It implies no responsibility, obligation, or duty. It is the cry of, “Why, we should have anything and everything, just because!”

Some of us are very selective in cherry-picking which parts of the Second Amendment we want to support, aren’t we?

I disagree with the conclusions Metcalf has drawn in his column (fairly strongly, in fact), but he at least has made an attempt to look at the entire Second Amendment. Most of us in this line of work are too cowardly to even make that attempt, fearing a backlash from those who want all of the liberty, but none of the responsibility.