Politically Corrected Glossary of Terms about Guns and the Right to Bear Arms
By Alan Korwin
Part One -- The Concept
Certain words hurt you when you talk about your rights and liberties. People who would deny your rights have done a good job of manipulating the language so far.
Without even realizing it, you're probably using terms that actually help the people who want to disarm you.
To preserve, protect and defend your rights in the critical debate on where power should reside in America, you need effective word choices. Try out some of the ideas in this chart the next time you deal with this subject.
Then just give it a rest and watch where it goes. You'll hear their litany, replete with flaws. Don't rebut, seize the moment, listen hard and learn -- then just raise an eyebrow and think, "How 'bout that. Feller doesn't even own a gun. It takes all kinds." Then talk about something else. And boy, does the disjoint hang in their craw.
They want you to say
It's better to say
|pro gun||pro rights|
|gun control||crime control|
|anti-gun movement||anti-self-defense movement|
|concealed carry||carry or right to carry|
|assault or lethal weapon||household firearms|
|Saturday night specials||racist gun laws|
|junk guns||the affordability issue|
|high capacity magazines||full capacity magazines|
|Second Amendment||Bill of Rights|
|the powerful gun lobby||civil rights organizations|
|common sense legislation||dangerous utopian ideas|
|reasonable gun controls||victim disarmament|
|gun control laws||infringement laws|
|When they say:||You say:|
|Guns kill||Guns save lives|
|Guns cause crime||Guns stop crime|
|Guns are bad||Guns are why America is still free|
|Assault weapons are bad||Assault is a type of behavior|
|Guns are so dangerous||Guns are supposed to be dangerous|
|Guns are too dangerous to own||You should take a safety class|
|People shouldn't have guns||Maybe you shouldn't have one|
|Guns should be totally outlawed||Let's try that with drugs first|
|The purpose of a gun is to kill||The purpose of a gun is to protect|
|People don't need guns||Only good people need guns|
|Guns should go away||Then you should personally sign up to never have a gun in your life, as you would ask of me|
|They should take away all the guns||Bad guys first|
|They should take away all the guns because they're so dangerous||Who exactly is "they" you would give all these dangerous guns to?|
|Gun owners should be registered||Bad guys first|
|Gun owners should be registered to help stop crime||So, how would writing my name on a government list help stop crime?|
|We need more gun laws||Criminal activity is already banned|
|Why would anyone want to own a gun?||You're kidding, right? You mean you really don't know? Well, why do you think we give guns to the police?|
|I'm not against people having guns||What sort of guns do you think people should have, and why|
|Do you really have a gun?||Of course, don't you?|
Part Two -- THE GLOSSARY
A more accurate, and far more compelling term than the common "pro gun." The reverse term, which describes them, is "anti rights." Misguided utopian disarmament advocates love the phrases "pro gun" and "anti gun," because they automatically win when they're used. They believe the righteous path is to be anti gun, because only devils would be pro gun. You flat lose if you allow a debate to be framed that way.
The debate is really between people who are "pro rights" and "anti rights" (and then you automatically win), because the righteous choice between pro rights and anti rights is obvious. You're pro safety; pro self defense; pro freedom; pro liberty; pro Bill of Rights (correctly casting them as anti safety; anti self defense; anti freedom; anti liberty; anti Bill of Rights). This is an accurate depiction of people who would restrict, repress and flat-out deny civil rights you and your ancestors have always had in America.
What "gun control" used to mean, and a generally good idea (the phrase "gun control" has morphed to mean "disarm the public" and thus should be avoided (more on this later). Everyone basically agrees there should be crime control, so it is good grounds for détente. A common sense and reasonable proposal. Includes forcibly disarming criminals. Emphasizes the differences between criminals and an armed public.
A more accurate, and far more compelling term than the common "anti gun." The reverse term, which describes you, is "pro rights." Fight the desire to cast repressionists as "anti gun," (and by so doing casting yourself narrowly as "pro gun"). Instead, always refer more broadly to the "anti-rights" posture they take. Make them argue rights, not guns.
A person who hates guns. Typically has little or no personal knowledge of guns, may never have even fired one, certainly doesn't have any. Would gladly subject innocent people to defenselessness. An elitist. One with an irrational and morbid fear of guns that is ignorant and immoral. Spews bile and venom at guns, gun owners, gun-rights advocates, gun-rights associations, pro-Bill of Rights legislators. Striking similarity and direct parallels with the racial bigotry of the civil rights efforts since the 1960s.
The notion that you can only own a gun if it is expensive, or passes a drop test, a melting point test, a consumer products test, a government design test, a caliber size, an ammunition capacity, a lock test, etc. The notion that only idiots, miscreants, red necks, dim bulbs and other nasty-named people would own guns. The notion that you can only vote, oops, I mean have a firearm, if you pass a test run by your government, and pay the tax, often called a "fee." The notion that anyone who fails the tests -- or any other qualifications -- automatically forfeits their rights "for the common good." An inability to distinguish honest people from criminals.
Discrimination against honest people merely for their legal ownership or possession of firearms. A common occurrence in society today. A violation of your constitutional and natural rights. Gun prejudice appears to be a federal civil-rights offense, punishable by prison and fine. Now there's a thought. Repressionists have attempted some very novel court challenges to laws that protect our liberties. Turnabout's fair play. If there were, say, a city bank somewhere that refused customers simply because they legally handled firearms...
Movement People who believe you have little or no right to defend yourself if attacked, because social order may only be imposed by an authority, and that such authority is superior to your right to exist (if push comes to shove). Also sometimes referred to as socialists. Sometimes expressed as your right to keep a cell phone handy to dial 911. Aggressive "pacifists" in anti self-defense movements are often deceptively portrayed as the "anti-gun movement." Never let them hide behind their comfortable disguise as anti gun.
The "N" Word
Anti-rights activists are becoming so strident in their call to deny your civil rights, they are referring to anyone who owns a gun as a "gun nut." This term drips with hate, and comes from a heart filled with hate, from people who, surprisingly, believe they are anti hate. It is directed not at criminals but at honest and decent people. You should express the same outrage at the "N" word, and similar epithets, as any ethnic group would feel about racial slurs.
Anti-rights bigots who secretly own guns themselves, rely upon armed guards for security, or live inside communities with private security forces, but decry your right to arms. Closet gun owners. Named in honor of Carl Rowan, a vicious anti-gun bigot whose syndicated newspaper column vilified guns and gun owners for years, to a vast audience, until he one day fired at a trespasser near his home.
Anti-rights bigots curse these as "junk guns" and "Saturday night specials," racial epithets you should never use. The racist goal of outlawing guns unless they're expensive is self evident and reprehensible. A woman who eats inexpensive food and drives an inexpensive car doesn't lose her right to protect her family because she can only afford an inexpensive gun.
Or would you rather use the complex and dangerous sounding (though accurate perhaps) "semiautomatic handgun," a term which many people think means machine gun, according to Handgun Control (who recommends use of the term "semiautomatic handgun"). Unfortunately, "handgun" has been vilified beyond usability, and needs to be retired or at least back-burnered for now. Remember, it was the so-called Brady "handgun" law that federalized all retail sales of rifles and shotguns.
Or would you rather use the complex and dangerous sounding (though accurate perhaps) "semiautomatic handgun." A basic, reliable, standard type of pistol, a regular pistol, an ordinary pistol, the same kind of pistol anyone would normally own. A basic, reliable, standard type of sidearm, a regular sidearm, an ordinary sidearm, the same kind of sidearm anyone would normally own.
The type any household is likely to have. All the firearms you own, despite constant name-calling from the media, are just common household firearms.
The only kind you can now buy in America at retail.
Basic Self Defense Gun
Any type of firearm that could save your life in an emergency. The fear-monger term "assault weapon" accurately applies in one context only -- any gun criminally pointed at you. Strict penalties should attach regardless of what is used as the assault weapon. Any firearm is inherently defensive unless and until abused by an assailant. "The" assault weapon, not "an" assault weapon.
Language that does not automatically bias a debate about the Bill of Rights against individual liberty and freedom. Opposite of "politically correct" language, which is basically socialist in nature. We all recognize that "political correctness" is "incorrect," and then we sneer and dismiss it. We do this at great peril, however, for PC statements treated that way don't just go away, they fester and insidiously modify the paradigm, and bend our thinking into acceptance of that which we have verbalized as "correct."
You want a good example of neurolinguistic programming and transformational grammar on a national scale, there it is. It's how we get to the Orwellian point where "ignorance is strength, freedom is slavery."
Bill of Rights
More broadly appealing and less polarizing than "Second Amendment." Sure, I talk about the Second Amendment all the time. But saying "Bill of Rights" protects you from malicious stigma and stereotyping as a "gun nut." Much more difficult to oppose, slows the bigots down. All the rights count, don't they, and they're all under attack. Bill of Rights Day. Pro Bill of Rights. I support the Bill of Rights, don't you? Actually, even virulent gun haters and gun bigots champion the First Amendment and other parts of the BOR, which, if you'll recall, was a single amendment (with separate articles) to the Constitution.
Expunge the word "concealed" because so many people hear it and believe only a criminal would conceal something. It implies you have something to hide. Because being discreet is a common sense, reasonable measure, there's no need to demean it with an ugly adjective (in this use anyway) like "concealed." "Carry license," not "concealed-carry license."
The quality of a gun that makes it useful as a crime-stopping, life-saving, defensive tool. A point that is attacked subtly in most anti-rights arguments. When met head on, the issue works against the anti-rights position. Caliber and capacity restrictions reduce lethality and your ability to save yourself or the state. Reducing lethality costs lives. Why should police need more capacity than you, when you both face the same criminals. How few bullets may a person use against an attacker, and how small should they be.
Guns are dangerous. They're supposed to be dangerous. They wouldn't be any good if they weren't dangerous. Anything that makes them less dangerous by reducing lethality puts you (or police officers or the military) at unacceptable risk.
Irrational, morbid fear of guns (coined by Col. Jeff Cooper, from the Greek hoplites, weapon). May cause sweating, faintness, discomfort, rapid pulse, more, at mere thought of guns. Hoplophobes are common and should never be involved in setting gun policies. Point out hoplophobic behavior when noticed, it is dangerous, and sufferers deserve pity. Often helped by training, or by coaching at a range, a process known to psychiatry as desensitization, useful in treating many phobias.
Murder committed by government. The most prevalent form of murder, responsible last century alone for 170 million deaths.
The First Amendment
Stop saying Second Amendment so much, since the other side tunes this out immediately, and marginalizes you as a "gun nut." Say "First Amendment" instead, and make your comparisons there -- does the government jeopardize your First Amendment rights? You betcha! Should you be concerned? Of course! What would you think of Internet censorship, government approved religion, font size limits, restricted word choices, acceptable word counts, licensed writers, training and testing before publishing controversial editorials, and tests for accuracy -- now there's a nice parallel.
People on all sides recognize there are threats to free speech, religion, privacy and more from our friends, the government. The same root problems affect the whole Bill of Rights, gun rights are no different than other rights under attack.
Something that, with all the accidents reported in America, all Americans should be taking -- from the tens of thousands of trainers out there. Always encourage people on both sides of a debate to take a real class. Why wouldn't an honest person take a gun-safety class? Going out for some wholesome and relaxing target practice, with friends. Getting good at marksmanship. Target practice. Marksmanship. These words have not been defiled and cast a good light, use them. Privately promoted gun-safety training days. Talk up the goal of "National Accident Reduction" through education and training. Trainers: there's big money to be made in the gaping theater called, "We need more safety."
Real Gun-Safety Class
A gun-safety class is real if it teaches a person how to shoot, or is taught by a marksman. Phony gun-safety classes, also known as "gun avoidance programs," are generally taught by people who want you to believe that guns are evil, and something you should never own. Range time is never part of a phony safety class. By and large the "teachers" are not gun owners themselves, rarely if ever practice their marksmanship skills, and may even favor civilian disarmament.
The curriculum in a phony gun-safety class is a mixture of fear, danger and avoidance that encourages gun ignorance. No empowerment takes place. A phony gun-safety class does not teach you how to handle a firearm in any manner, and even a dummy gun for learning rudimentary safety skills is usually not present. Safe gun use is simply not an issue at a phony program. The phony approach is becoming popular among pediatricians and the medical community, and others, who frequently are acting out their own repressed fears and personal dread of firearms. Real and phony gun-safety classes both usually include a good dose of politics.
These have their place and can prevent accidents ("Don't go near the pool!" or "Don't touch that gun!"), but recognize them for what they are. In the end, the education card must trump. Learning how to swim and learning how to safely handle a firearm are excellent skills to have, even though both can be lethally dangerous. It's precisely because you can drown that you learn to swim, and it's because regular household firearms are dangerous that a person needs to at least learn about them. It's because a criminal's firearm is really dangerous that people learn a lot about firearms and their effective use. Learning replaces fear and danger with confidence and safety. Avoidance programs cannot do this. They perpetuate danger by instilling ignorance. It makes sense to know how to swim even if you have no pool. After all, your neighbor might have one.
Gun "buy back" programs are misnamed. You cannot buy back something you didn't own in the first place. Since the Brady law prohibits dumping such guns into criminal lairs (gun buyers must be certified by the FBI these days), there is no longer justification for destroying firearms collected in buyups. That's right, there is no longer any justification at all for destroying firearms collected in buyups. When buyups are government funded, meltdowns are therefore wanton destruction of a public asset, and someone deserves to be held liable. Tax dollars are buying legal property simply to destroy it, when the only way to sell it is to certifiably law-abiding individuals. What an outrage.
Where I live, savvy collectors have set up shop at widely publicized gun buyups to make competitive bids and cherry pick the merchandise, pre-smelter.
Now generally synonymous with "disarming the public." Using the phrase "gun control" in its currently twisted form distorts the debate and should be avoided; it is the other side's rallying flag, bolstered every time the words leave your lips; argue about gun control and you've already lost. Use "crime control," "accident reduction" and "disarming the public" to distinguish issues and preserve accuracy.
Listen hard when you hear the term "gun control" in the news. You'll notice they're usually not talking about controlling crime. They're talking about controlling you.
Always start by asking what a person means when they say this phrase, then shut up and see. Often, people who think of themselves as being anti gun unwittingly adopt the position that only the rulers should be armed (cop and army guns OK, but not you). Such a person isn't anti gun at all, they're simply anti rights -- your rights.
When a "gun-control law" regulates or demeans honest people in the false name of controlling crime, that's actually tyranny. When "gun control" controls your right to have a gun, that is people control. The phrase "gun control" is a dangerous misnomer (some would say euphemism) for an agenda now actively pursued by a segment of society, that would consolidate power solely in "official" hands.
Help seize the metaphor back:
- Drop into conversation how your gun control at target practice recently was better than usual, or how you have pretty good gun control but you still need some lessons. Invite someone to your gun-control class at the range next Tuesday -- free style target practice. A well advertised gun-control class might attract some pretty interesting neighbors. Jokes about gun control ("a steady hand") are neurolinguistically challenged and don't help. Say something else funny if you must be funny.
- When reporters and others inevitably ask, "Are you in favor of gun control?" they often don't realize their question is as biased as, "Are you still beating your wife?" So it's up to you to show them. They're looking for a pro or con answer, and then a question of how much. Don't play into it. Instead, try responding, "Well me, I'm in favor of crime control. How about you?"
- When you write about so-called "gun control" or so-called "gun-control laws" always put it in quotes, to disparage it.
The Henigan/Bogus Theory
Named by David Kopel in honor of its two leading proponents (Dennis Henigan and Carl Bogus). This is the notion, first arising a few decades ago, that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right. It stands in opposition to the fact that "the people" means all of us, and is responsible for the widely armed population we observe today. Covered more thoroughly in an earlier article of mine, The Big Lie (attached). Kopel's recent paper on this, for the St. Louis University Public Law Review, is nothing short of brilliant. Reach Dave at http://www.independenceinstitute.net.
A tool for reaching closed minds. The use of questions to point out fundamental illogic, which can then topple the notions a person builds on that flawed base. An application of the Socratic method. The mental awareness that forms when a simple question challenges fundamentally held beliefs. Here are many. One at a time is usually enough for most minds.
- If a registration list makes sense for the Second Amendment, would it make sense for the First Amendment?
- Are criminals and an armed citizenry the same thing?
- So why do people these days carry guns anyway, and does it ever work?
- Should it be against the law to defend yourself?
- So if you are allowed to defend yourself, how many bullets can you use?
- Shouldn't we disarm the criminals first?
- Why haven't we disarmed the criminals?
- Why don't they arrest all the Brady criminals they find?
- Are you against an armed citizenry?
- Do you believe that only the rulers should have the guns?
- Now let me see if I understand this; when you say "gun control," do you mean "stop crime" or "disarm the public"?
- Now let me see if I understand this; when you say you're anti gun, do you mean you want to disarm the police and the armed forces?
- If you don't want to disarm the police and military, you're not really anti gun at all. You're only anti my gun. Why is that?
- You know, after listening to you for a while, you've convinced me that you should never own a gun.
The Decommissioning Ruse
If the public cannot be disarmed, decommissioning all guns is the next best thing. Pitched as "gun locks" and requirements for storage, unloading or separating ammunition from guns, it all serves the same purpose: not merely to infringe, but to eliminate your ability to keep and bear arms.
Decommissioning schemes are an enormously effective, insidious and destructive ploy. If the gun is empty, you're legal. As soon as it is loaded, or accessible, or outside its padlocked canister, you stand at risk of criminal charges. How outrageous. Charges should only stem from a criminal act that creates a victim, not mere possession of private property. If you can't point to the victim, there is probably no crime.
Sunshine Gun Laws
Laws that encourage gun-safety training and responsible firearms ownership, as opposed to repressive laws that criminalize honest gun ownership and infringe civil rights. Civil rights. For a swell list, go to http://www.gunlaws.com.
War on Guns
If you like the war on drugs, you're gonna love the war on guns.
They carry belt-fed machine guns, drive assault vehicles, and establish their presence by military might and the threat or use of lethal force. The media often call such folks "peacekeepers" but they sure look like troops of an occupying army. Decide for yourself next time you see such "news." Please, don't get me started on the "news."
Not "China." A country whose leaders are interested in bringing about our demise, and replacing representative democracy with communism. If you're worried about people who steal guns, remember that these are the people who stole our atom bomb secrets, and they make their own guns. An enemy of capitalism and American values. Their beliefs about human and civil rights are horrifying and abhorrent to the American way. Bill of Rights? Try death penalty for minor and political crimes, mandatory enforced birth control, imprisonment for speech against the regime, forced labor, no right to assembly, trials without defense testimony, and no choice in the leadership.
I don't know about you, but I do not relish the thought of such a system here. Would the rulers of Communist Red China be capable of such brutal atrocities if the Chinese people they oppress were heavily armed, I wonder. If a heavily armed Chinese populace were somehow able to prevent the deaths and abuse from the yoke of a tyrannical dictatorship, but experienced instead deaths and injury from its own negligent and criminal misuse of arms, would that be a fair trade?
So where do you stand, Senator, on deterrence at schools? You know, is it legal for a person caught in one of these media-hyped killing sprees to shoot back if they are able? Is there any limit on the number of bullets they could use? Would they be charged with something if they managed to stop the attack and the attacker died in the process, or if they used a type of gun not on an approved list? More questions the media doesn't ask, and an exploration of the issues, is coming soon in a piece I call, "So Where Do You Stand, Senator?"
This article doesn't end here. In attempting a document like this, I know I can never reach its ending. It defines a path which simply stretches forward.
If I wait until I have this evolved to my satisfaction it will never wrap. These ideas are too important to let wait that long. Consider this an early peek at a work in progress.