Friday, August 15, 2014

Gun Terms For The Intelligent

Nothing bothers me more than a “news” story about guns that is clearly written by someone who 1. has no knowledge of firearms, and 2. didn’t have the integrity to bother to research to know the difference in terms.
There are terms out there that are both inaccurate and sometimes downright false. How can you write a credible story on guns if you can’t even get the terminology right. I don’t expect everyone who writes about guns to be a Massad Ayoob or a Jeff Cooper, but try to research enough to use correct terms. Anti-gun groups, politicians and biased members of the media often use such terms incorrectly — sometimes due to lack of knowledge but often with malicious intent. So, if we as gun owners don’t accurately apply firearms terminology, who will? How can aspiring shooters, genuine journalists or the public in general hope to receive reliable information? Here are some of the most commonly misused and confused gun terms.
Assault weapon and assault rifle. Assault weapon is thrown around so much you’d think it actually existed. As far as I’m concerned there really is no such thing as an assault weapon. What the heck does that mean? I can assault a enemy with a bolt action, a pump action, or a knife! I’ve never heard the term “assault knife”! It’s based on pure ignorance and fiction. I think the term came from someone meaning to say automatic military weapon. The only time I’ve heard the term used correctly was in the military. I’ve shot a true assault weapon in a M16A2 and an M4. This is the closest I have come to an assault weapon or rifle. Many times the media, anti-gun groups, and way too many gun owners incorrectly use it to describe an AR-15 style rifle. Also, out of ignorance many have the misconception that the AR in AR15 stands for assault rifle. In reality the AR stands for the original makers name Armalite rifle. It has become so popular it is now known as a weapons platform. In fact, according to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson, writing in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, “Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term, developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of ‘assault rifles’ so as to allow an attack on as many additional firearms as possible on the basis of undefined ‘evil’ appearance.” I think some anti gun people use it on purpose to antagonize gun people. To me it shows someone’s ignorance. So, while the term “assault rifle” is frequently misused, the term “assault weapon” doesn’t even really exist.

Clips and magazines. What is the difference? If you’ve been around guns you know that basically clips feed magazines. A magazine holds shells under spring pressure for feeding into the firearm’s chamber. Examples include box, tubular, drum and rotary magazines. Some are fixed to the firearm while others are removable.
A clip has no spring and does not feed shells directly into the chamber. Clips hold cartridges in the correct sequence for charging a specific firearm’s magazine. Stripper clips allow rounds to be stripped into the magazine.

Accurate or precise. These two terms seem like they are the same. Often they are used to mean the same thing. But they are quite different. Being accurate is being able to consistently hit a given target. Being precise is actually the tightness of the groups. You can shoot accurate by putting a good group somewhere on the target. You can be precise if your shoot that group of 10 in 8 holes and the group the size of a ½ dollar! So, while a rifle that consistently produces tight groups is often described as accurate, it’s more properly an indication of being precise.
Bullet and cartridge. Many people who are actually familiar with shooting get this mixed up. A bullet is the actual projectile that is shot from the gun. It is pressed into the (usually) brass or steel case or shell. But I must admit I even refer to the cartridge as a bullet. I think this conflict in terms has been around for many decades. When I correct my wife I get a eye roll similar to my children and a “whatever”. But I have reloaded for years and when someone tells me they have bullets for me I have to clarify whether what they have for me are really bullets (the projectile) or they are referring to ammunition (the complete cartridge). I buy ammunition and I buy bullets. My bullets I load into brass for a cartridge. No one usually confuses these terms with caliber, which is the diameter of the bullet. The components of a center fire cartridge is the bullet, the case or shell, propellant (gun powder)and the primer. But if you are actually going to talk guns, the ammunition should be described correctly.

I know that non gun people are not that interested in correctly using the above terms. But if you want to talk about cars and want to be taken seriously, you probably would not refer to a engine as the “vroom-vroom” thingy. If you want to be taken seriously when speaking of shooting and guns, the above terms should be learned. There are others so don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you want to write intelligently about guns then these terms should be a starting point. Journalists are notorious for not researching gun terms especially if they are writing against guns and gun rights.

As pro-gun owners and shooters we should not be guilty of getting these terms wrong. Often I have read or heard well meaning gun owners speak or write ignorantly about guns. We need to be represented better than that.
Learn and use these terms correctly so that the anti-gun crowd will know that we know what we are talking about. If I mess up in my articles, please feel free to correct me.

Semper Paratus