Misinformation in the media by Duncan Wardlaw

Headline representation is a key tool in the media and political toolbox when it comes to painting a picture of a topic or an event. In tragic recent event’s we’ve seen horrible injuries inflicted with a lorry being labelled as a “gunman attack” (although the only firearms used were police arms used to stop the attacker) and on the opposite side of the coin, illegal firearms use doesn’t even make the headlines in the UK.(perhaps because it doesn’t fit the agenda?- Editor)

Now, more than ever firearms enthusiasts need to work together and add some important tools to our arsenals, given that there is constant pressure from the anti-gun mindset on all fronts. You have to look no further than the comments on many news group Facebook pages during the recent incident in Texas to witness the front line of the war of words.

To that end we, as ambassadors of our interests must take positive steps in our use of language and logic against the media and politicians that would impose their decisions on us based on fear and misconception. It’s very easy to put together a misleading info-graphic (unless you’re USA today adding chainsaw bayonet’s to rifles) fanning the flames of fear in those that know no better, we need to up our own game to counter this.

To that end I urge everyone reading this to THINK about their choice of language before they forward their thoughts, and on that note I’d love to use a real world example. Well known in the UK community, we have a small group that repeatedly choose poor language, they misuse the term assault rifle to describe other peoples firearms whilst choosing the words “sporting shotgun” to represent their own. Deep down, we know why they do it, “assault rifle” immediately conjures up images of an automatic rifle, whereas “sporting shotgun” is a coy choice of words designed to reassure the uninformed that the shotgun in question offers diminished lethal capacity.

Both of these damage our reputation and further the position of those seeking to kill our interests.

Adding verbiage might seem innocent enough, but as with the headline representation, it’s an unfair and slanted summary. The debate on “assault rifle” is still raging, and while I won’t reproduce the pages written on the particular phrase, I’ll conclude by pointing you all to either the ATF or Firearms act guidelines, where technical definitions of rifle, shotgun, pistol etc all refer to the mechanism of the firearm, not what plastic bits and add-on verbs have been attached to them. In the same broad stroke however, “sporting shotgun” allows for a non-technical definition to apply to a firearm already defined in law. By using this verbiage and proliferating it, we allow people outside the firearms world to dictate our terms, and in turn, our interests.
That my friends, cannot be allowed to happen, so let us make sure we  don’t add to the ignorance and continue to educate and inform those both outside and within the shooting community itself.

©2023 Firearms UK.


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