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Let Me Gunsplain It To You

Shelby Murdoc

Thursday, March 15, 2018 — Weapon of war. High-powered assault rifle. Fully automatic. Shoulder thing that goes up.

We’ve all heard a lot of firearms jargon in the gun control discussion over the years. Some of it has even made sense.

Since this latest media meltdown, though, things have really gone over the top. I’m not talking about “clip” vs. “magazine” debates. I’m not talking about what is and is not a “scout rifle” or where the line between “assault rifle” and “battle rifle” technically is drawn. I’m talking about meaningful terms that are important—with crucial ramifications—in the national conversation about the right to keep and bear arms.

A recent Washington Post article brings up the difference in opinion about whether those participating in the conversation need to know what they’re talking about:

While debating the merits of various gun control proposals, Second Amendment enthusiasts often diminish, or outright dismiss their views if they use imprecise firearms terminology. Perhaps someone tweets about “assault-style” weapons, only to be told that there’s no such thing. Maybe they’re reprimanded that an AR-15 is neither an assault rifle nor “high-powered.”…

Has this happened to you? If so, you’ve been gunsplained: harangued with the pedantry of the more-credible-than-thou firearms owner, admonished that your inferior knowledge of guns and their nomenclature puts an asterisk next to your opinion on gun control.


Obviously, this is a play on “mansplaining,” defined by The Atlantic as “explaining without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer, often done by a man to a woman.” The egregious examples of mansplaining are, I’ll admit, ridiculous. But once the term caught on, it became popular to dismiss any man explaining anything to a woman as “mansplaining.” The problem, of course, was that many of the things being explained by a man to a woman were actually correct. But one accusation of “mansplaining!” is all it took for the explanation to be rejected while the feminists all high-fived each other over how awesomely clever they were.

That’s what we’re seeing here in the gun rights discussion. Someone, often a gun control activist but sometimes a “convert” to the cause like a sheriff or a military veteran, tells us all that weapons of war like the AR-15s owned by civilians have no place in the hands of citizens because they are too high-powered and designed only for killing quickly and efficiently. No one “needs” an “assault rifle” so they should be banned.

The problem with their argument, though, is that the guns they are trying to ban are clearly NOT “weapons of war,” “high-powered,” or “assault rifles.” Once someone understands what is meant by “weapon of war,” “high-powered,” and “assault rifle,” their entire position collapses. And they know it. They knew it back in the days before the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, so they created the term “assault weapon,” hoping to use it to confuse the layman into thinking it was an “assault rifle.” The very creation of the term “assault weapon” is a tacit admission that the guns they’re talking about are not assault rifles but they hope to use the stigma of military weaponry against them.

So these days, as more and more people are becoming educated about the reality of the “assault weapon” definition vs. that of “assault rifle,” the gun control activists are seeing the need to shut down those who would point out that what they’re saying is factually untrue.

The best way to shut down people who understand guns is to claim that the people who understand guns are trying to shut you down.

Understanding guns is vital to the discussion about gun rights and gun control. Most of the public would probably agree that “military grade” weapons should be controlled, so the aim of gun controllers is to convince most of the public that AR-15s are “military grade” weapons. It’s a lie, of course, and they know it. But if they can lie convincingly enough, if enough people who don’t know the difference can be swayed (especially if you’ve got some crying kids to put on TV), then they can ban whatever they want.

Another interesting point is that, if the misuse of terminology was an honest mistake, that it would probably be a lot more evenly distributed between working for and against the cause of the gun control activists. Yet, astonishingly, the “mistakes” almost always seem to be ones that strengthen the arguments against gun rights. No one in favor of more gun control ever seems to mistakenly use terminology incorrectly that weakens their argument. It’s only “mistakes” that make guns or gun owners look bad.

The Left would not stand for Conservative pundits or legislators debating abortion, for instance, using incorrect terminology. Especially using it incorrectly in a way that made abortion sound worse than it is. “Clip” vs. “magazine,” might be trivial in the gun control debate, but “fully automatic” vs. “semi-automatic” is vital to the discussion. And trying to blur the lines by claiming a gun is “fully semi-automatic” is either shockingly ignorant or yet another deliberate lie told in order to obsfucate the issue.

“Gunsplaining,” like “assault weapon,” is simply another term made up by gun control activists in order to shut down the debate when the debate cannot be won on a factual basis. If the facts prove you wrong, you must find a way to keep the facts out of the debate.

If their points were so strong, why do they have to lie so much to make them?

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