Probably the most annoying term used in gun control debates is the use of the term “military” or “assault-style” weapons. These terms are imprecise words used for their emotional response instead of their clinical value. In short, they are used to manipulate the feelings of the public and to win debates with raw emotion instead of logic or the efficacy of policy.
Emotional words are nothing new to the gun control debate I analyzed in a recent article. But these are particularly egregious as they are over-used by gun control advocates to beat Republicans over the head with assault-style words.
The definitions of assault- and military-style are both rather broad. All weapons, fists, feet, and even some things like fertilizer could be used for assault, so it serves no purpose to add that term to make assault weapons sound scary. “Assault-fertilizer” or “assault-fists” sounds really dumb, so assault-style weapons builds upon the general perception of fear that gun control advocates have perpetuated.
Military style is an even worse phrase. When people hear “military” they often think of tanks, planes, and bombs so it becomes an easy argument to say that weapons or war or military-style weapons should be banned. But as somebody who served in the military, I often think of the valuable MRE spoon, bottle of tabasco sauce, and smoking jacket that did more to help me survive deployments than all the body armor and heavy weapons in the world. But again, it would be ridiculous to talk about military spoons or my assault-style socks because people know exactly what they are.
Yet the irrational fear of guns has been stoked by many on the left, to the point that “military-style” isn’t the giggle-inducing phrase it should be. Plus, most liberals don’t know the difference between a spoon and a gun, let alone the difference between an AR-15 and M-16, so liberals and their media allies get away with calling AR-15s military- and assault-style weapons despite numerous differences in the two.
The end result is that using terms like assault- and military-style creates more fuzzy rhetoric used to take something that is no different than any other hand gun or military tool like the trench shovel and turn it into something scary. This is simply a way for gun-hating liberals to provoke an emotional response in the people, and it becomes good soundbites on cable news and at anti-gun propaganda rallies.
When legislators or those in the media use terms like military- or assault-style weapons, you know they are just as buffoonish as though they were talking about assault-style spoons. It’s up to conservatives —especially gun owners and veterans— to correct the outlandish use of these terms so we can work on real solutions to mass shootings.