After years of incorporating the terms “assault rifle” and “assault weapons” into news reports involving firearms, especially when used in crimes, journalists are now advised by the Associated Press to avoid the “highly politicized terms,” and the Second Amendment Foundation says it’s a “smart gun change.”
The notification began appearing earlier this week, and it has ignited a furious discussion on social media. The story broke Thursday at Ammoland News, based on a SAF news release.
“It’s about time the media realized the terms ‘assault rifle’ and ‘assault weapon’ are inflammatory and meaningless,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “Those terms have become part of the gun prohibition lobby’s lexicon, and unfortunately, journalists across the country have been all-too-willing to adopt their vocabulary and repeatedly use it in their reports.”
By no small coincidence, anti-gun Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has scheduled a markup hearing on H.R. 1808, the proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2021. According to Axios, the hearing is scheduled Wednesday, July 20.
Gottlieb is watching media reports leading up to the hearing, to see whether the AP style tip will make news coverage less incendiary.
“It’s about time the media realized the terms ‘assault rifle’ and ‘assault weapon’ are inflammatory and meaningless,” he said. “Those terms have become part of the gun prohibition lobby’s lexicon, and unfortunately, journalists across the country have been all-too-willing to adopt their vocabulary and repeatedly use it in their reports.”
According to the AP Style Tip, “The preferred term for a rifle that fires one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, and automatically reloads for a subsequent shot, is a semi-automatic rifle. An automatic rifle continuously fires rounds if the trigger is depressed and until its ammunition is exhausted.
“Avoid assault rifle and assault weapon,” the AP adds, “which are highly politicized terms that generally refer to AR- or AK-style rifles designed for the civilian market, but convey little meaning about the actual functions of the weapon.”
As noted by Gottlieb, “The gun prohibition lobby has always used ‘assault rifle’ or ‘assault weapon’ to confuse and frighten the public and make people think it’s a fully automatic ‘weapon of war.’ Now we’ll have to see how intellectually honest journalists will be in adopting this correct terminology, rather than continuing to use these deliberately misleading references.
“This laudable effort by the Associated Press may help restore the level of trust the public should have in the media,” he observed. “It will be interesting to see if the media now challenges politicians and anti-gun lobbyists whenever they use such terms, especially since ‘AR’ never referred to ‘assault rifle’ but to Armalite Rifle, and the gun control crowd has always known it.”