(The opinions expressed in this article of those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Popular Military)
A Navy veteran-turned senior editor at Task & Purpose is calling out the “gunsplainers” in the gun control debate- claiming that gun rights proponents are bullies if they correct people on incorrect terminology and information.
In his Washington Post-hosted op-ed titled, “The NRA and its allies use jargon to bully gun-control supporters,” author Adam Weinstein attempts to call out those who target both the deliberate and innocent use of incorrect terminology when it comes to the details behind one of the most divisive issues in the United States.
“In the weeks since the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland,” he began, “A lot of gun-skeptical liberals are getting a taste of it for the first time: While debating the merits of various gun control proposals, Second Amendment enthusiasts often diminish, or outright dismiss their views if they use imprecise firearms terminology.”
“Has this happened to you?” he asked. “If so, you’ve been gunsplained: harangued with the pedantry of the more-credible-than-thou firearms owner, admonished that your inferior knowledge of guns and their nomenclature puts an asterisk next to your opinion on gun control.”
In short, it’s an egregious error of etiquette -at least to Weinstein- to correct someone when they are ignorant on a subject that requires great technical, historical and legal prowess in order to make an informed and logical decision in terms of legislation.
“If only these adversaries were a little more honest, I’ve often thought, and more precise in their language on the subject, we could have a serious debate on the finer points of a gun violence policy, instead of a bad-faith propaganda race,” he wrote. “Gunsplaining, though, is always done in bad faith. Like mansplaining, it’s less about adding to the discourse than smothering it- with self-appointed authority, and often the thinnest of connection to any real fact.”
If one were to claim a Chevrolet F-150 was a diesel-powered SUV capable of crossing deep rivers and used by ISIS under the “Hilux” name, would someone correcting that individual be “trucksplaining?” Absolutely not- these are several different attributes to several different vehicles with very different designs and a diverse series of envisioned tasks. If anything, a reasonable individual would question the intellectual capacity of the person asking the question.
Now, that’s a seemingly innocuous example, but it holds weight. Incorrect terminology (particularly deliberately-incorrect terminology) is harmful, does not contribute to a productive discussion and in some cases is near-libelous, particularly when that incorrect information is perpetually disseminated in order to sway the ignorant and unaware to come to a conclusion based on falsehoods.
Does it matter when someone says that people can buy an “assault rifle and 30-round high-capacity clips at Walmart in seconds?” It absolutely does. Commercial sale of new assault rifles (which are select-fire weapons that are capable of automatic or burst-fire) has been illegal since 1986. Walmart has never sold a machine gun or assault rifle (to my knowledge) and if you go find a thirty-round clip that feeds into the rifles sold at WalMart, many would be seriously impressed, as even the 10-round stripper clips found inside of NATO ammunition boxes do not load directly into the firearm.
In short, these terms matter, because the truth is an important part of decision making. Hollow point ammunition doesn’t explode, “assault weapon” is a deliberately-vague political term, AR15s are not military-issued “weapons of war,” a “ghost gun” barrel shroud is not “a shoulder thing that goes up,” 30-round magazines are not “high-capacity,” a so-called “Ghost Gun” does not fire a 30-caliber magazine-clip,” incendiary ammunition is not “heat-seeking” and a magazine is not an expendable form of ammunition that can be used only once.
All of the above examples were provided by lawmakers, who have interns and staff paid to ensure that they are at least mildly knowledgeable on a subject before they go to the public about it. How is it that (at least in most cases) aforementioned lawmakers seem to be on point on issues involving anything but firearms?
To quote former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”
In short, yes- just as with any other issue, allowing the deliberate dissemination of falsehoods should be combatted at every turn, be it on issues of firearms, civil rights or how to use a propane grill without blowing yourself up. It is not only an issue of safety but one of logic, wherein the permitted spread of disinformation only serves to do more harm than good.
It’s not “gunsplaining,” it’s educating a person on a topic they seemingly know nothing about, which in turn cripples them in an argument involving anyone outside of an echo-chamber of circulated falsehoods. Could some gun-rights proponents be more tactful, savvy and eloquent? You bet, we could all benefit from becoming more refined in the art of communication these days, particularly in an era where social media has seemingly stripped us of civility.
To quote soldier, statesman, politician and rifleman, “Be always sure you are right- then go ahead.”
Entering an argument is nothing short of maneuver warfare. By deliberately discarding or taking offense corrections by more knowledgeable people, you’re depriving yourself of valuable tools to better debate your position.
However, if you feel you must stick to this mentality don’t be surprised when you find yourself ambushed, outgunned and in full retreat.
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