Terminology is important

Sturmgewehr 44, the historic “assault rifle”, was a general purpose military weapon, moderately good in several roles but specialized for none. The name was an attempt to make wishful thinking become reality by raising troop morale. Since the generic term “assault rifle” has come to have a specific meaning, those who wish to disarm us have largely substituted their own: “assault weapon”. They apply that term to any item they wish restricted or banned. On the face of it, how could anyone be against banning weapons used to assault others?

We call auto handbrakes either “parking” or “emergency” brake. That’s because their regular use for one of those purposes. If somebody wanted to ban them, they could call them drift brakes and claim that they should be banned for enabling illegal turns.

Similarly, banning of camera could be accomplished by claiming they enable child porn production. Focusing on atypical criminal use and using that as an argument for banning a technology is disingenuous. A camera owners would be going against their own interests if they started referring to their equipment as “child porn makers”. Why should gun owners use the terminology of their foes?

A modern defensive rifle. It’s equipped with a heads-up display, an automatic transmission with manual override, and a muffler, just like a typical car — and for the same reasons.

By intent and by overwhelming frequency of use, our firearms are “counter-assault weapons”, but even that term is too derivative of the enemy terminology. “Defensive” or “self-defense” or “self-protection” arm are all more accurate adjectives, and less encumbered with unintentional negative connotations. The importance of defensive use is in its reluctant employment. Hunting, sports, collecting are all elective activities, while defense of self and others is an obligatory, non-elective use for a firearm.

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