The Danger of 'Gun-Control' Speak

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) is shown here,
last January, arguing that "gun violence" can be
solved via more restrictions on law-abiding citizens

By Joseph Greenlee. Mar 24, 2024

Plato defined rhetoric as "the art of ruling the minds of men." 'Gun-control' advocates—especially those in the media and government—have artfully employed rhetoric for decades to evoke emotional responses, alter attitudes and shape perspectives about guns. They have managed to frame the debate over gun ownership in America by laying every atrocity committed with a firearm at the feet of law-abiding gun owners and by flooding the political discourse with misleading terminology and falsehoods.

The misleading term most often repeated is "assault weapon." 'Gun-control' advocates carefully chose this term to make popular semi-automatic firearms sound especially dangerous and thus unsuitable for civilian possession. The term "assault weapon" gives the immediate impression that AR-type firearms—the core of what they use this nebulous term to cover—are too dangerous. Merriam-Webster defines "assault" as "a violent physical or verbal attack" or "a military attack." Legally, an assault is a criminal offense. The term "assault weapon" incorrectly suggests, therefore, that such a gun type must not be suitable for lawful self-defense.

It is no coincidence that the term "assault weapon" so closely resembles "assault rifle," a term used by the military to define "short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power." The point here from 'gun-control' activists is to conflate the two, so that the general public believes "assault weapons" are fully automatic firearms designed for military use. The Violence Policy Center's founder, Josh Sugarmann, stressed the benefit of misleading the public in a 1988 strategy memo: "The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons." .....


Back to Top