Words have power. Even the ordering of words can have dire consequences. As the ancient Greek philosopher George Carlin used to say, “It’s okay to prick your finger, but don’t finger your…” Well, you get the idea. Careful use of words is always prudent.
As a freedom-loving liberty champion, banning things goes against my grain. But just this once, I suppose I could take a lesson from the anti-gunners and be okay with bans as long as it’s something I agree with. A little hypocrisy never hurt anyone, right?
So if I did fall off the anti-hypocrisy wagon, I might consider supporting a ban on these gun-related words…
1. Knockdown power
A couple of months back I wrote about the fallacy of “knockdown power.” I take this term at face value as to its meaning. It implies that a gun can fire a projectile that has enough force to literally knock someone down. It works in the movies so it must be real, right?
When things are shot, they go down, drop down, spring down, fall down, jump, or do nothing at all—just to name a few of the possible outcomes. A bullet from a normal handgun simply does not have enough momentum to physically knock someone down. Try shooting a 150-pound object that contains no nerves, pain receptors, organs, or capacity for fear response and you’ll see that it does not fly across the room when struck. Heck, it won’t even fall down unless you balance it precariously.
How about if we all agree to replace the word “knockdown power” with something more accurate? Perhaps “Hey! This really hurts!” power. Or maybe “encourage someone to stop whatever bad thing they’re doing” power? If we want to be descriptive, we could use “ability to make holes” power. These are just a few ideas and I’m always open to suggestions.
Every time I hear the word operator I feel like I’m watching an episode of General Hospital. I get the word “operative” because it’s been used in old spy books and movies forever. Operatives are people who wear tuxedos, crash exclusive parties with style, and get all the girls. They’re sneaking around and operating spy gadgets like exploding fountain pens. But operator? I’m just not feeling the love with that one.
If any of you reading this are, in fact, operators for your full-time profession, help me understand why you’re called operators. Why not something more descriptive like warrior ninjas, Action Jacksons, or Imperial Storm Troopers?
Some words have lost all rational meaning through overuse. I understand the word tactical and have no beef with its correct and original use. According to the Google machine:
of, relating to, or constituting actions carefully planned to gain a specific military end.
Makes total sense to me. But applying that label to things like pizza cutters, meat cleavers, and tactical balls is a bit much for me. Yes, I get that an army marches on its stomach, but is a pizza cutter really part of the tactical advantage? With all the tactical clothes, classes, and products, you’d think we were living in ancient Sparta.
Just to be really clear, I have no beef whatsoever with the name of CMMG’s Tactical Bacon. Because bacon. I said before that I was okay with a bit of hypocrisy as long as I agreed with the premise.
4. Gun violence
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you use words like “gun violence” you’re shifting the focus away from the behavior and to the object. In some way, it removes some of the blame and responsibility from the perpetrator. I think the use of terms like this insults the victims of all other forms of violence—it implies that their experience wasn’t as meaningful. “Oh, you only got killed with a cricket bat? It sure sucks for you that your death was so uninteresting to politicians and the media.”
I’ll buy into using the term “gun violence” when mainstream media reporters and politicians use equally descriptive words like “Dessert Spoon Violence.”
5. Gun sense
While we’re at it, how about this one? Any time someone tells me they want to do something ridiculous because it’s just “common sense” or good “gun sense,” I tune out. Common sense is one of those fallback positions you use when facts are not on your side, so let’s lose that argument altogether. Besides, there are a lot of people out there whose “common sense” I don’t trust to help them escape from a wet cardboard box.
After all, banning this word is just common sense, right?
I read gun magazines by the metric ton. Yes, it’s a sickness, but that’s for another day. Sometimes I think writers get paid for using as many words as possible to describe the same thing. I can’t explain why exactly, but use of the word “pill” instead of bullet or projectile drives me nuts. Is it a “pill” because it’s delivering “medicine” to bad guys? Or is there some underhanded reference to little blue pills that enhance masculinity and, umm, power? I dunno.
I know there’s words out there in the gunny world that bug the heck out of you. What are they?
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