28 July 2008

News Coverage, Blog Comments Require Critical Firearms Terminology Review

A bullet comes out of the barrel
A cartridge goes into the breech
As you carefully choose your apparel
Take equal pains with your speech.

-- Jeff Cooper

Recently, I linked to a television report on women and firearms. Very well done, very balanced, indeed. But I missed one glaring, painfully obvious point, and I was called on it by a number of people via private emails, and blogger Lucy, who left a very direct comment on my original post.

The title of the TV story was "Women and Weapons."

Weapon . . . a common word, but one that is constantly misused. A word used commonly by three entities -- people in the military, LEOs and in a most shrill manner, the folks who would deny a woman her choice in self defense tools, the anti gun crowd. The "W" word is one I don't like either for its negative connotation, and I missed it. Have you heard me kicking myself over this? Surely something I would win money from America's Funniest Home Videos should someone tape me.

Here are a few of my personal beliefs and pet peeves on nomenclature, and the reasons why this is so important:

1) Do NOT use the term "weapon." A weapon can be anything used to hurt someone. It can range from a rolled up newspaper to a nuclear bomb. It can be a walking cane, a steak knife, a baseball bat, a hatpin, a screwdriver, a rock, a desk lamp, a sharpened compact disc or DVD, a coffee mug, etc. Get it? The media perpetuates this myth that only guns are weapons. Why should we make it worse?

Use "firearm," "sidearm," "long gun," "handgun," "rifle," "shotgun" -- anything but the "W" word. We play into the gun controllers hands when we use this language. I don't care if you were in the military or were law enforcement. Get used to using any other term other than the "W" word.

2) Do NOT use the terms "assault weapon" or "assault rifle." The general public does not know the difference between an "assault rifle," which is generally a military machine gun, a device capable of being used in either semi-auto or fully automatic modes, and simple semi-automatic rifles. The gun controllers have taught the media and general public to fear the "scary black gun." And given it names it does not deserve.

Use the term "semi-automatic rifle," or "military style semi-automatic rifle." I often use the words "competition rifle" to describe these tools because that is what the majority of these firearms are used for across the United States. Understanding the differences in terminology helps also, especially with general assignment reporters who haven't a clue about firearms nomenclature. Many a time I have been able to downplay a reporter's question about police finding "an assault rifle." My response has always been, "are you kidding me? The cops found someone with a full-out machine gun? On our streets? That hasn't happened here in years!" Suddenly the reporter isn't so sure of the information they've been given, and they go back to check and find out it is just a semi-auto rifle.

Even the term "assault weapon" is a big problem. Retailers use it and I cannot stand it. If you notice my writing, I will refer to "so-called assault weapons." Then move to another description. Guess who invented that two-word phrase? Gun controllers. But what does the shooting sports community do? Stupidly, many in our community have adopted it in some fashion, giving credibility to two words that were meaningless until the Bradys, VPCs and other gun control groups all faxed each other and started working from the same playbook.

3) Do not use the phrase "Saturday Night Special."

In reality, a Saturday Night Special is a great meal at a local diner -- perhaps a steak and salad, with a big potato and butter on the side. The phrase is incorrectly used by gun controllers and the media to refer to any small concealable, and inexpensive, handgun.

Use the term" inexpensive firearm" or "affordable sidearm" or "affordable handgun" to refer to a tool that lower-income moms, dads and grandmothers might keep on hand to defend their children, their grandchildren and their homes. NO ONE should be denied the basic human right to self defense because some politician doesn't like the fact that a sidearm is affordable. It is very disturbing to hear politicians and politically minded police chiefs rail on and on about "Saturday Night Specials" to gain political clout with a public that has no idea what is actually being discussed. When legislation to ban such firearms is discussed or passed, the excuse will be about cutting crime. But in reality, lower-income families have stolen from them the ability to obtain an economically priced handgun that could save their lives.

Look at it this way. I borrowed this from Publicola:

"First, we must recognize that the origin of the term is Niggertown Saturday Night. "Saturday night special" is merely a variant on that phrase. Next, we must look at who would be most affected by a ban on these firearms -- poor people. Simply put, it's a phrase designed to vilify handguns that poor people can afford that came about through altering a racist term." Any questions?

4) Do not use the phrase "bullet proof vests." There is no such thing as a vest that is entirely bullet proof. Penetration depends on angles of entry. A vest can be defeated by something as simple as an arrow fired by a bow.

Use the phrase "bullet resistant vest." This is an accurate term, while the term above, while widely used, is simply not true.

5) Do not use the phrase "the gun lobby." We don't use the phrase "the teachers lobby" to describe advocates for better working conditions and pay for educators, nor do we use "the cop lobby" to describe advocates for better working conditions and pay for LEOs.

Use the phrase "advocates for self defense" or "shooting sports advocates." Why? I have borrowed this from Excaliber Press.

"Gun Lobby" is a term used by the media and hoplophobes to describe the National Rifle Association, and anyone else who does not like anti-gun legislation or who fights against useless and restrictive firearms laws. Often called the "powerful gun lobby that goes against the will of the people," when anti-gun legislation is in fact voted down by the people." Any questions?

The phrases "cop killer bullets" and "point-blank range" are also meaningless terms bandied about by the legacy media, gun controllers and anti self defense types, as well as an uninformed public. They should never be used by people in the shooting sports community for they only add more confusion to an already incendiary topic.

That's all for now. I'll probably throw a few more "do nots" up soon, with definitions. Any comments or additional nomenclature worth discussing is appreciated. Send 'em on in!

As for you paintball fans, don't get me started . . .

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