A few weeks ago, I filed away this letter from an NRA member chastising us for our use of a misleading media term:
I read with dismay your use of the term ‘gun violence’ TWICE in the February First Things First section. Incredible. While deriding terms such as ‘cop-killer bullets,’ ‘assault weapons,’ ‘plastic guns,’ etc., etc., over the years as the anti-2nd Amendment Lefties bend language to bend attitudes through subtle misinformation.
‘Gun violence’ is more accurately called criminal violence. I don't think I need say more. PLEASE, editors, tighten up your normally exceptional game.
I went through the February 2017 issue of America’s 1st Freedom and finally found the two offending instances, my finger poised to send a reminder email to our team about the use of this term.
I paused; I had written it.
In my defense, both instances were in a list of “fact-free Obamannouncements” culled from false statements issued over the term of his presidency. Perhaps the judge will take that into consideration at sentencing.
However, JBG’s letter has stayed in the back of my mind, awaiting the right opportunity to become copy. On April 12, an Iowa legislator thoughtfully provided one; responding to the passage of Stand Your Ground legislation, Democrat state Sen. Nate Boulton said, “The reality is when you have a gun-violent situation, and if someone is killed with gun violence, we’ll leave it to our courts to interpret and apply what the situation was that led to that death.”
“Killed with gun violence.” Perhaps Sen. Boulton consults with a help desk in India for sound bites, but in any case it’s sad when an elected official mangles English like a Ben Stiller comedy (“He was speaking another language … I’m pretty sure it was Asian.”). However, Boulton’s clumsiness in juggling made-up terms is a result of super-stretching language into propaganda—and he’s far from alone.
When one violent gang member with an extensive criminal record shoots another violent gang member, also with a criminal record, 10 times at an outdoor party, TheNew York Times writes they were “living emblems of the ravages of gun violence in the South Bronx.” Notice they were not emblems of illegal drug trade, failed families or revolving-door courts.
When testifying before the U.S. Senate, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Jonathan Lowy said his “mission is to create an America free from gun violence, where Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities. For the 24 years the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project has been the nation’s leading public interest law program devoted to representing victims of gun violence and defending reasonable gun laws, with the goal of reducing gun violence.” If you’re counting, that’s three mentions of “gun violence” in two sentences, giving criminals and madmen three times the cover.
When a hateful madman opened fire at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., killing 49, the American Medical Association issues a press release saying the organization “today adopted a policy calling gun violence in the United States ‘a public health crisis’ requiring a comprehensive public health response and solution.” Does the AMA blame mass murder on renegade paramecium?
Finally, Bloomberg’s Everytown For Gun Safety treats gun violence like the world’s largest dirty laundry bag, stuffing it to bursting with any and every gun death: homicide, suicide, accidental shootings, inflated deaths of “children and teens,” and domestic violence. Of course, exaggeration is to be expected from the group that listed one of the Boston Marathon bombers as a victim of gun violence.
Fortunately, most Americans still hold people accountable for their actions. President Donald Trump didn’t order an attack on the Syrian air base because “chemical violence” broke out in Idlib province. We don’t blame beer for showing up on a drunk driver’s breath, or lead for appearing in house paint, or kitchen knives when they’re sticking out of crime victims. I predict that gun violence will join Saturday Night Specials, Cop-Killer Bullets and yes, eventually even Assault Weapons on the trash heap of archaic English.
In the meantime, with the help of our readers, we won’t be a party to weaponizing the First Amendment to attack the Second.
Clay Turner is the creative director for America’s 1st Freedom magazine, an official journal of the NRA, as well as the daily news website, Americas1stFreedom.org. He shoots just enough to maintain an A rating with the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA).