It turns out we can make our own reality and bully certain media figures (I can’t use the word journalist) to sanctify it, as did St. Louis-based radio host Jamie Allman to Fox News host Chris Wallace on Thursday. Wallace was appearing on KFTK’s Allman in the Morning when Allman protested that,
“[I]t agitates people … like me and my listeners, who are gun owners” that the media uses the term “assault weapon.” He added that “people who are gun owners never call — that’s not any official name of any weapon out there — an ‘assault weapon.'”
According to conservatives who approve of lots of innocent people being gunned down on a regular basis by assault weapons, the term “assault weapon” is misleading. Yet according to Phillip Peterson Gun Digest Buyer’s Guide to Assault Weapons (2008),
The popularly held idea that the term ‘assault weapon’ originated with anti-gun activists is wrong. The term was first adopted by manufacturers, wholesalers, importers and dealers in the American firearms industry to stimulate sales of certain firearms that did not have an appearance that was familiar to many firearms owners. The manufacturers and gun writers of the day needed a catchy name to identify this new type of gun.
And Media Matters pointed out that,
Conservatives in media have adopted the false National Rifle Association claim that the term “assault weapon” was invented by proponents of assault weapons bans in order to arbitrarily single out certain firearms for further regulation. However, before the gun industry trade association attempted to rebrand assault weapons as “modern sporting rifles” in 2009 — a change in terminology also adopted by the NRA — the gun industry and firearm publications routinely used the term assault weapon to describe the very military-style semi-automatic rifles that would be covered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapons ban.
The truth is that military-style semi-automatic rifles were called assault weapons because that is what gun manufacturers and gun enthusiasts called them. The term has played a key role in the ongoing effort of the gun industry to rebrand and market military-style weaponry to civilians. Now, as legislation supported by a majority of Americans has been proposed to ban these weapons, the NRA and its gun industry and media allies are using semantics and terminology arguments to downplay the dangers of a class of weapons often associated with horrific mass shootings and law enforcement killings.
But Chris Wallace replied like the docile little Fox News personality that he is:
“[I]f that’s something that ticks people off because it’s so imprecise, and such a kind of cover word that means nothing, I don’t want to do that.” He then pledged, “You will not hear the word assault weapon out of my mouth on Sunday. I may fall back into it later, but on Sunday I will be more precise”
Take a listen courtesy of Media Matters for America:
WALLACE: Thank you for the information, because if that’s something that ticks people off because it’s so imprecise, and such a kind of cover word that means nothing, I don’t want to do that.
ALLMAN: Yeah it’s almost like it’s an — and again, I’m not accusing you of this. It’s almost like an editorial description of a gun. And that’s all I’m saying is that it drives a lot of us crazy when we hear assault weapon because —
WALLACE: I don’t want you to be driven crazy.
ALLMAN: No, I’m just saying if I can have an impact on a premier journalist like yourself, then I think I’ve made some headway.
WALLACE: Well, OK, no, listen.
ALLMAN: And we all fall into that.
WALLACE: You will not hear the word assault weapon out of my mouth on Sunday. I may fall back into it later, but on Sunday I will be more precise.
ALLMAN: That’s good, OK.
Maybe we can just call them “spoons” from now on. It’s much less threatening. The problem is, these are a class of weapons. They are not shotguns. They are not hunting rifles of the traditional variety. They are semi-automatic, can take flash suppressors or muzzle breaks, they use detachable, high capacity magazines, and have folding or collapsible stocks.
We have to call them something, don’t we? It is not those who use the term “assault weapon” who are trying to be misleading.
And after all, as pointed out, we leftists didn’t invent the term; the industry did. The military M-16 is an assault rifle. The AR-15 so popular these days, and used in the San Bernadino shootings, was a precursor to the M-16 and was itself originally developed for the military. Why not call a spade a spade?
And if these things are favored by sportsmen and for home defense, they are also favored by home-grown domestic terrorists.
As CBS News pointed out Friday,
An AR-15 was used to kill nine people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon in October.
It was also the weapon used in the murders of 12 people at a Colorado movie theater in 2012.
And an AR-15 was used in the 2012 murders of 20 first graders and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut.
Controversial the term may be, but many terms are controversial and others that are not, ought to be (pro-life comes glaringly to mind as part of this discussion), and we cannot make assault weapons go away by calling them something else. All we can do is sanitize the term in order to downplay the dangerous nature of these weapons.
Sure, any gun can kill somebody, but see how far you get taking an old bolt-action rifle into a theater. Even terrifying as a sawed off shotgun is, you won’t get many shots off before you’re overpowered. The assault weapon does what the assault weapons is supposed to do. It’s just that we should not be allowing it to do that against civilians in our own schools, businesses, and theaters.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.