Cliché [klee-shey]

  1. a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser,  or strong as an ox.
  2. anything that has become trite or commonplace through overuse.
  3. a truly annoying phrase or saying that inflicts physical pain simply by the number of times it’s needlessly repeated.

Contrary to the image above, I don’t actually believe in banning things. That’s totalitarian and just plain mean-spirited. But hearing the following gun-related clichés is reminiscent of brushing my teeth a Dremel tool. Maybe we should limit their use to certified Maury Show guests instead?

So let’s get started. I might stretch the technical definition of cliché just a little bit, as some are just words that make me want to do anything else, like put my tongue on a hot rifle barrel. But that’s okay, because this is going to be fun.

Common sense in gun laws!

The problem with “common sense” is that it isn’t common. The second problem is that the people who define “common sense” have less sense than spackle. In an era in which politicians don’t read what they write and subsequently vote on, there’s no such thing as common sense laws.

I don’t dial 911!

If you don’t call 911, you’re an idiot. In fact, if you don’t dial 911 you’re the sort not likely to beat Forrest Gump at a rousing game of Wheel of Fortune. Always, always, always dial 911 at your very first opportunity. Good guys dial 911 to request help and/or report what happened. Bad guys don’t.


This one drives me nuts! When I hear some apoplectic, blathering broadcaster talk about an “arsenal” I find out we have very different definitions of the word. To me, an arsenal is a building with more guns and ammunition than I can shoot in my lifetime, not a baby-stash that is a tad larger than what Michael Bloomberg will shoot in his lifetime.


When someone tells me they’re an operator I assume they’re either a surgeon or a nurse. What defines a “tactical operator” anyway? I don’t even get the origin of the word “operator.” Is it because they operate tactical things? Or because they send evil folks to the operating room? Or perhaps it’s because they use those cool throat mikes instead of phones?

I shoot all sorts of guns but no one considers me a tactical operator. On the other hand, since I manipulate goofy articles on the Internet on a regular basis, maybe I’m a typographical operator?

I’d rather be tried by 12 than carried by six!

When it comes to running the federal government, I’d rather have the first 500 people in the phone book in charge than our elected officials. When it comes to a choice of being tried by 12 or carried by six, I choose door three: neither!

I really, really don’t want my fate resting in the collective judgement of 12 people I don’t know, who might believe in very different things than me. Accordingly, my strategy related to guns and self-defense is to do everything in my power to avoid actually using them. If you have no choice, be ready. If you have a choice, take the flight instead of fight option and bypass the six and the 12.

Gun crime!

Talking about “gun crime” makes as much sense as talking about Miller Genuine Draft DUIs. Nouns and verbs, people! The word “gun” is a noun, therefore it requires a verb to complete an action like causing a crime. Even if you take away all the nouns, the verbs still do verb-like things. Meaning: removing the guns doesn’t remove the crimes.

Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice!

The problem with some clichés is that people treat them as tactical advice. Actually implementing a cliché about “dragging someone into the house before calling the cops” or “anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice” is likely to land you in deep trouble.

This is a hot load!

When I hear the term “hot loads” I have flashbacks of Huggies, changing tables, and gas masks. While having children was amazingly awesome, that’s one part I could forget.

Gun control is being able to hit your target!

While I admit I do kind of like this one, I have to wonder if it’s run its course? Maybe using similar logic, “mind control” is the ability to understand Common Core math problems?

From my cold, dead hands!

I don’t doubt that some will fight for their rights all the way to their dirt nap, but how many internet tough-talk Action Jacksons are there really? How many will create their own home version of The Alamo board game in the event a dozen armed and amped dudes show up at their door? I estimate the actual martyr percentage at 0.000267 percent of those who use this cliche.

High-capacity magazines!

Part of the definition of cliché is something that has lost all legitimate meaning. When it comes to high-capacity magazines, I’m not sure there’s any meaning to begin with. What is high-capacity? Three rounds? Four rounds? Three-hundred rounds? It’s one of those phrases that has a different meaning for everyone.

These are the ones use a big straw to suck the fun out of my day. What say you?

Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon.

Image by Tom McHale

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23 thoughts on “The Top 11 Bad Gun Clichés

  1. Tom, Tom, Tom,
    Just because you are tired of them, doesn’t make them old or bad for others!
    As an “author” (another over-used cliche), you understand the power of a cliche.

    1. I can agree that some are useful, like “I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.” Others, like “.45, because shooting twice is silly” and “they all fall to hardball” actually hurt more than they help. Then again, all’s fair in love and war and laughter might be the best medicine. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. And in my opinion, that’s the way the cookie crumbles!

  2. One of my personal favorites,but not that of friend Richard A.Mann is “Bring Enough Gun.”…I like it because I do in any given situation,but others do not because they cannot define it.

  3. Personally, I’d love to see people stop using the term “assault rifle”, and instead use the more accurate term for a civilian owned gun, “defensive rifle”. The former gives power to politicians, while the latter empowers the common man who just wants to be able to defend himself and his family.

    1. You and me both! Did you notice that when DHS bought full-auto rifles under their contract for their agents, they called them “Personal Defense Weapons” ??? When I buy a semi-auto rifle, it’s an “Assault weapon.” When the feds buy one, it’s called a “Personal Defense Weapon”

      1. Or, the term “weapon” itself. Media types like to demonize guns and to use terms that help them sensationalize their stories. Weapon, which can be as innocent sounding as a pencil and as scary as a “dirty bomb” may be weapons; however, to be more precise, the words guns or firearms are much more descriptive and accurate.

      2. YES, YES, YES. I kinda, sorta understand why the military uses the term, but really no one else needs to.

      3. SO TRUE! And which purchaser of these rifles is the more likely to use them to actually conduct a bona-fide “assault”? Is it…

        (A) The sportsmen who hunt, and/or punch a few holes in paper at the local range?

        OR is it;

        (B) The black clad, grenade-toting, federal shock troops who regularly train to conduct midnight door breaching operations against the civilian populace?

        It used to be that the average gun owner considered him/herself on the SAME SIDE as law enforcement. Now we see a situation where public trust in governments from local to federal levels is at an all time low. To top it all off, that same government apparatus (at all levels) has seen fit to label we, the law abiding citizens, as virtual enemies of the state. A government that lies, spies and monitors the words and actions of the populace as if they were enemies can not stand for long. We the people can not abide it.

    2. Assault rifle is a valid term, but it only applies to select-fire, carbine length rifles fed from detachable magazines and firing light to intermediate power cartridges (meaning cartridges in between pistol cartridges and so called “full-power” or “battle rifle” catridges. IOW, between 9×19 mm /.45 ACP and the 7.92×57 mm Mauser / .30-06 Springfield).

    1. THANK YOU. Can we add cheeseball Templar imagery anything to this list? I’m SO bored to the gills with half the crusader-this-and-that fanboys and companies (!) giving off that ole white pointy hat vibe. Let it gooooooo people.

  4. Operator……came from the adjective used to describe a Special Operations soldier/sailor- i.e. SEALS/SF/Delta, etc.

  5. Thanks for picking some real stinker cliches from both sides of the issue! Foolishness alas has no affiliations. Let clear thinking prevail for all involved.

  6. I nominate “Liberal anti-gun blah blah” … b/c I know libs and dems that absolutely do value 2FA and have some nice stuff in the old safe!! It’s not all of them. (also know plenty of guys who might vote GOP, but wouldn’t know .22LR from .223, they really have little to no personal connection with 2FA rights past mouthing the right words). Ditch the labels and know your neighbour!

  7. The one at the top of my list is Gun Violence. Guns are not the issue. Violence in all forms is the issue. By singling out firearms it becomes clear that the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence fully endorses all other forms of assault. “Whack that jackass in the head with a hammer but DON’T YOU DARE shoot him” because #gunsense. Their issue and focus is disarmament rather than a meaningful reduction in violence.

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