4 Reasons You Need to Stop Saying “Assault Weapon”
No, we’re not just going to print “Nancy Pelosi” four times.
If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably heard the phrase “assault weapon,” and you’ve probably heard it a lot. There’s not much you can do about what you hear, but you certainly can choose to not use the term yourself—and here’s why you should.
Nobody Can Tell You What an “Assault Weapon” Is
When you hear the term “assault weapon,” do you get an image in your mind? Is it a black, military-looking gun with a long barrel with lots of pointy bits hanging off it? Probably—but other than that, chances are you’re fairly foggy on what exactly makes it any more assault-y than any other gun. That’s nothing to be ashamed of; after all, none of the politicians calling for them to be banned do, either. “Assault weapon” is not a technical term and doesn’t include any specific attributes other than “scary looking.”
It Blurs the Difference Between Military Weaponry and Civilian-Legal Guns
It’s true that firearms used by the military and the modern sporting rifles legal for civilians to own often look virtually identical. However, they don’t function the same way. Our military and law-enforcement personnel are legally entitled to use firearms capable of firing more than one cartridge per trigger pull—otherwise known as full-auto guns or machine guns. However, due to the 1986 Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, American citizens who wish to own a full-auto firearm must follow an exhaustive, lengthy and extremely expensive (as in, new-car expensive) route to obtain one legally. The overwhelming majority of “assault weapons” in civilian hands are actually semi-automatic…which means that they are only capable of firing one round per trigger pull. The term “assault weapon” was coined to try to blur the lines between these two entirely different types of firing mechanisms.
It Implies You’re a Criminal
“Assault” is an incredibly loaded (heh, see what we did there?) word, with connotations of a criminal attack. But one can commit assault with a gun, a brick, or a board with a nail in it…so why does a semi-automatic black rifle deserve that “assault” modifier any more than any other object? It doesn’t—but it does serve to imply that the only reason you, a law-abiding American citizen, would ever want to own a gun like that is because you wish to commit criminal acts. It would be like labeling your e-mail program a “Libel Machine.”
The Language Can Affect Your Rights
Politicians interested in limiting what kinds of guns you’re allowed to own use the term “assault weapon” to manipulate public opinion, full stop. They know perfectly well that it’s essentially a meaningless phrase meant to blur the lines between guns already illegal for civilians and what they’re hoping to make illegal. Using the phrase yourself makes the gun-banners’ job easier for them, because it serves to keep the misinformation they’re spreading alive.
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