Media & Guns

Most folks who read this blog have have probably seen this “Journalist Guide to Firearms” graphic at some point:


What amuses me about this is that we’ve highlighted when the Associated Press has tried to push journalists into the direction of using the correct language.

Yesterday, AP announced that they are expanding their “weapons” entry. Digital subscribers have full access to their new definitions, but they previewed one on Facebook.

semi-automatic A firearm that fires only once for each pull of the trigger. It reloads after each shot. The form: a semi-automatic rifle, a semi-automatic weapon, a semi-automatic pistol. The hyphen is an exception to general guidance against hyphenating words formed with semi-.

I find this amusing since people who know guns then started a discussion in the comments to improve the language so as to reduce potential confusion with double-action revolvers. We are everywhere, and I love it.

16 thoughts on “Media & Guns”

  1. You should probably note for those not familiar with it that the AP publishes the AP Stylebook, which is the most commonly followed style guide for publications.

  2. Whenever I see a gun story on MNSBC, I hit the comments section, just to observe the carnage. There is a dramatic increase in the number of pro-2A responses recently, and most do a fairly good job of battling the emotional gun-grabbers with factual reasoned responses. Good to see people standing up and fighting for their rights.

    1. The problem with that is that for the anti’s this is an emotional issue. No amount of facts or logic will make a dent in their perception of the ‘problem’. It would help more if we could propagate an emotional meme that supports our views in contrast to the theirs. Every single day defenseless children are dying at the hands of evil people because their parents don’t have adequate means to defend them. If only one innocent infant is saved from a depraved teenaged killer isn’t it worth it? Of course it is.

      1. That’s why I always play the rape card: You just want me to be disarmed so that I can be victimized by rapists. You don’t want me to defend myself. You want me raped and dead, and you’re a misogynist.

        Yeah, it’s dirty pool, but fuck ’em.

      2. I am another person who feels warm and fuzzy when I see emotional comments responded to, and often outweighed by, comments explaining facts and rational thought. While it might not change the minds of the emotional, or the minds of those making such comments, it’s bound to have an effect on those who are “on the fence”.

        Sometimes my comments are made from an emotional angle. Once, I saw a comment about how someone who defended himself should have “been a man” and confront the teenager he had shot. My response: “I have children to defend, and I am small and weak, and all I want is to be left alone. Why should I have to prove my manhood by responding to threats without a weapon? And why should my wife have to prove *her* manhood, if she were in a similar position?”

  3. My Iver Johnson single shot, break barrel 20 gauge shotgun is, of course, classified as an “assault rifle” by the mainstream media. Since it was given to me by my now deceased Grandfather, it was technically a “straw purchase” and no background check was done at the time *gasp!*, so I expect the ATF to show up any minute now to confiscate it.

  4. One of those people commenting is me. Kinda neat to get noticed.

    I started following the AP Stylebook right around the time they started making an effort to get clip and magazine right. Some journalists are pretty good.

    Through some backchannels I got the entire AP Stylebook firearms entry:

    Gun is an acceptable term for any firearm. Note the following definitions and forms in dealing with weapons and ammunition:
    A cannon or other weapon designed for defense against air attack. The form: a 105 mm anti-aircraft gun.
    A carriage-mounted cannon.
    assault rifle, assault weapon
    Terms for military or police-style weapons that are shorter than a conventional rifle and technically known as carbines. The precise definitions may vary from one law or jurisdiction to another. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, some make the distinction that assault rifle is a military weapon with a selector switch for firing in either fully automatic or semi-automatic mode from a detachable, 10- to 30-round magazine. Comparatively lightweight and easy to aim, this carbine was designed for tactical operations and is used by some law enforcement agencies. The form: an M16 assault rifle, an AK-47 assault rifle, a Kalashnikov assault rifle. An assault weapon is the civilian version of the military carbine with a similar appearance. This gun is semi-automatic, meaning one shot per trigger pull. Ammunition magazines ranging from 10 to 30 rounds or more allow rapid-fire capability. Other common characteristics include folding stock, muzzle flash suppressor, bay onet mount and pistol grip. Assault weapon sales were largely banned under federal law from 1994 to 2004 to curb gun crimes. The form: AR-15 carbine with military-style appearance.
    Each soldier carried an M16 assault rifle into combat, facing enemy troops armed with AK-47 assault rifles.
    Politicians debated sales restrictions on assault weapons, including military-style AR-15 carbines for gun hobbyists.
    A firearm that reloads automatically after each shot. The term should not be used to describe the rate of fire. To avoid confusion, specify fully automatic or semi-automatic rather than simply automatic. Give the type of weapon or model for clarity.
    bolt-action rifle
    A manually operated handle on the barrel opens and closes the breech, ejecting a spent round, loading another and cocking the weapon for triggering. Popular for hunting and target-shooting. Example: Remington 700. Some shotguns are bolt-action.
    See shot.
    The projectile fired by a rifle, pistol or machine gun. Together with metal casing, primer and propellant, it forms a cartridge.
    A measurement of the diameter of the inside of a gun barrel except for most shotguns. Measurement is in either millimeters or decimal fractions of an inch. The word caliber is not used when giving the metric measurement. The forms: a 9 mm pistol, a .22-caliber rifle.
    A weapon, usually supported on some type of carriage, that fires explosive projectiles. The form: a 105 mm cannon. Plural is cannons.
    A short, lightweight rifle, usually having a barrel length of less than 20 inches. The form: an M3 carbine.
    See bullet.
    A device to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit, ready for insertion into the gun. Clips are generally used to load obsolete military rifles. Clip is not the correct term for a detachable magazine commonly used in modern military rifles, assault rifles, assault weapons, submachine guns and semi-automatic pistols. See magazine.
    Named for Samuel Colt, it designates a make of weapon or ammunition developed for Colt handguns. The forms: a Colt .45-caliber revolver, .45 Colt ammunition.
    fully automatic
    A firearm that fires continuously as long as the trigger is depressed. Examples include machine guns and submachine guns.
    The measure of the size of a shotgun. Gauge is expressed in terms of the number per pound of round lead balls with a diameter equal to the size of the barrel. The bigger the number, the smaller the shotgun.
    The forms: a 12-gauge shotgun, a .410 shotgun. The .410 actually is a caliber, but commonly is called a gauge. The ball leaving the barrel is 0.41″ in diameter.
    A pistol or a revolver.
    A cannon shorter than a gun of the same caliber employed to fire projectiles at relatively high angles at a target, such as opposing forces behind a ridge. The form: a 105 mm howitzer.
    lever-action rifle
    A handle on the stock ejects and loads cartridges and cocks the rifle for triggering. A firearm often associated with the Old West. Example: Winchester 94.
    M1, M16
    These and similar combinations of a letter and figure(s) designate rifles used by the military. The forms: an M1 rifle, an M16 rifle.
    machine gun
    A fully automatic gun that fires as long as the trigger is depressed and bullets are chambered. Such a weapon is generally so large and heavy that it rests on the ground or a mount. A submachine gun is hand-held. The form: a .50-caliber Browning machine gun.
    The ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a firearm. It may be fixed to the firearm or detachable. It is not a clip.
    A trademark for a type of high-powered cartridge with a larger case and a larger powder charge than other cartridges of approximately the same caliber. The form: a .357 Magnum, a .44 Magnum.
    Device used to launch a mortar shell; it is the shell, not the mortar, that is fired.
    A heavy, large-caliber shoulder firearm fired by means of a matchlock, a wheel lock, a flintlock or a percussion lock. Its ammunition is a musket ball.
    A handgun that can be a single shot or a semi-automatic. Differs from a revolver in that the chamber and barrel are one integral part. Its size is measured in calibers. The form: a .45-caliber pistol.
    A handgun. Differs from a pistol in that cartridges are held in chambers in a cylinder that revolves through the barrel. The form: a .45-caliber revolver.
    A firearm designed or made to be fired from the shoulder and having a rifled bore. It uses bullets or cartridges for ammunition. Its size is measured in calibers. The form: a .22-caliber rifle.
    Saturday night special
    A compact, relatively inexpensive handgun.
    A firearm that fires only once for each pull of the trigger. It reloads after each shot. The form: a semi-automatic rifle, a semi-automatic weapon, a semi-automatic pistol. The hyphen is an exception to general guidance against hyphenating words formed with semi-.
    The word applies to military or naval ammunition and to shotgun ammunition. For small arms, bullet or round is the common term for ammunition.
    Small lead or steel pellets fired by shotguns. A shotgun shell usually contains 1 to 2 ounces of shot. Do not use shot interchangeably with buckshot, which refers only to the largest shot sizes.
    A firearm typically used to fire small spherical pellets called shot. Shotguns usually have a smooth bore barrel, but some contain a rifled barrel, which is used to fire a single projectile. Size is measured according to gauge, except for the .410, which is measured according to caliber, meaning the ball leaving the barrel is 0.41″ in diameter. The form: a 12-gauge shotgun, a .410 shotgun.
    submachine gun
    A lightweight fully automatic gun firing handgun ammunition.

      1. Thank you for your good work. When sites make it hard to comment, or do not allow commenting, you know that they do not want debate.

        I have observed the phenomena all over the web. American freedom fighters are winning the debate with facts. The problem is that there are a lot of false “facts” that the other side use for their debate, and they have to be addressed.

        1. What are you talking about a site that makes it hard to comment? They posted to Facebook where anyone can comment. If you disagree with their listing, you’re free to go add your two cents.

          If you’re talking about the fact that they only posted a preview of their definitions on Facebook instead of the full listing, that has nothing to do with their desire for debate or correction. The AP Stylebook is a book/service that you must pay to access.

  5. perhaps we should add to the confusion and start calling them all

    1. autoloaders or autoloading would be an improvement on the current newsy practice.

      In fact those so-called professional journalists ought to ditch the entire practice of using any variation of the term ‘automatic’ to describe any firearm in any circumstance. All they do is add confusion and no doubt sometimes even deliberately mislead their audience.

      If it should ever be necessary in a news story to mention the function of a semi-automatic firearm, they should use the term self-loading. Self-loading is an accurate description, it was used within the firearms industry at least as far back as 1903, and it avoids misleading anyone into believing the subject of the story is a machinegun.

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