Image 01 Image 03

Controlling the narrative through language — “gun control” out, “gun violence” in

Controlling the narrative through language — “gun control” out, “gun violence” in

As part of “turning loose” his massive campaign apparatus on a number of policy fronts, President Obama appears to be directing a language overhaul as part of his gun-control agenda.

In a recent press conference with Joe Biden, The Atlantic‘s Molly Ball observes that neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden used the term “gun control.” Instead, they referred to their agenda as one of “gun-violence prevention.”

An editorial posted on Barack Obama’s website yesterday reinforced Ball’s observation; Jim Messina penned “Stand with the President to reduce gun violence,” and never once used the term “gun control.”

Ball listed a series of alternative terms the left has been using, with her opinion about the drawbacks for the anti-gun advocates:

1. Gun-violence prevention: This one has found favor with the president and his top allies. The Center for American Progress this week put out a memo urging supporters to use the term.

Drawbacks: It’s more words and syllables than “gun control.” It lacks specificity — preventing gun violence could apply to approaches that don’t involve regulating firearms at all — and sounds like what it is: a cumbersome euphemism.

2. Gun safety: Also showing up in a lot of headlines today, this term puts the emphasis on the idea that guns are fine, they just have to be handled wisely.

Drawbacks: It sounds like the title of a firearms-training course, which it often is. Confusing.

3. Firearms regulation: Those seeking maximum precision sometimes call on this multisyllabic mouthful, which makes the subject crystal clear.

Drawbacks: If you’re trying to avoid setting off alarm bells among the conservative-minded who might react poorly to “control,” “regulation” isn’t much of an improvement.

4. Illegal guns: New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s advocacy group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, chose this phrase for its name in 2006, reflecting its initial emphasis on background checks and gun trafficking.

Drawbacks: Where some of the other terms are too vague, this one risks being too specific, applying only to those firearms that have already been outlawed. As the mayors’ group has broadened its focus, its supporters have become more apt to use “gun-violence prevention” as well.

5. Criminal access to guns: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel lobbied for this phrase in a talk at the Center for American Progress on Monday, with the reasoning that even staunch Second Amendment supporters don’t believe criminals should be able to get guns.

Drawbacks: A mouthful. And like “illegal guns,” it seems to narrow the focus to issues like background checks that may not be activists’ only goal.

Ball appears to have a favorite alternative; she employed the term “firearm regulation” in the preface to her piece. The same day she posted her article, she sarcastically tweeted about the NRA:

Molly Ball The Atlantic

A commenter on The Atlantic’s piece added a sixth suggestion: “self-defense prevention.”

Drawbacks: truth.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


FreshPondIndians | January 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

If they wanted to frame the terms used to define the gun control argument, I think they should have done it a bit earlier. A lot more people were paying attention during and immediately following the school shooting; now I’d gauge the interest moderately high than just the ‘political junkies’ (I use my fiancee, who has no inclination to follow politics, as the barometer).

“Gun violence” is nonsense.

Guns are fundamentally power tools. They don’t commit violence.

None of my guns…any more than my chainsaws…have ever been violent.

    Let’s bring back an oldie but continuing goodie, “Ted Kennedy’s Oldsmobile has killed more people than my guns.”

    Except of course, the Olds, an inanimate object, just like a gun, didn’t kill MaryJo. It was a person, a real live, very overweight, very loud-mouthed person, who was responsible.

    I’ll start, you finish = Guns don’t kill people, . . .

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to Ragspierre. | January 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    I have an old, 10-gauge, double-barrel shotgun with a wood stock and metal butt-plate. Shoot that nasty beast a few times, and you will understand that some guns are indeed, violent. I’ve had bruising in shades of purple, yellow and brown that are found nowhere else in nature. 😆

Choice of words goes a long way towards swaying the debate. Therefore I suggest referring to the efforts of the Obama administration as an attempt to enact “Soviet style” gun bans. Or perhaps “Disarming the American People like the Nazis did to Germans.”

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to jimposter. | January 18, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I saw a poster once that had a lady shooting an attacking thug from an awkward posture on the ground, as if she’d dodged this guy before grabbing her gun from her purse. The caption stated, “The ONLY Gun Control that Works!”

    Another said, “Average Police Response Time, 11 Minutes. Average Time to Draw and Fire, 3 Seconds. Carry Concealed and Put Time on YOUR Side.”

    Broad concepts are hard for the low information voter and short attention span person to embrace. Catchy phrases and imagery has legs. It has what they call in training development, latency and primacy.

1. I suspect that initially they hoped to ram something through Washington using raw emotion, as happened in New York State. Since that no longer looks assured, they’re preparing for a longer-term battle via their favored ploy of distorting the language.

2. The phrases ‘gun safety’ and ‘gun-violence prevention’ stand out as politically dangerous to us. (Even more insidious, perhaps, would be plain ‘violence prevention’.) But we don’t have to cede any phrase on the list to the Left, and we shouldn’t.

    gs in reply to gs. | January 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    3. They’re also trying to provoke our side. If they say something ridiculous and we respond with something that sounds worse—remember, they flagrantly edit and distort—, they win a round.

“The NRA thinks children are the problem” I hope that meme catches on. I can think of a couple of co-workers who consider themselves well-informed who will likely be parroting that by Monday morning. The obtuse ignorance of the left is such a joy sometimes.
Wyoming, Tennessee, South Dakota and South Carolina also have similar bills pending before their legislatures. Sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center indicate as many as a dozen more states could follow suit in the coming weeks.

To track Second Amendment Preservation legislation across the U.S.

Just thought ya’ll might be interested in finding out how states rights are pushing back. Does it matter how the feds twist the language? There is a limit to believing propaganda.Leftist are delusional enough to think that words are magical and can be twisted sucessfully to mean what they want them to mean.

Molly Ball (aka Ball Molly) in A telephone directory of course.

Wonder if she receives many offers?

ALL of her listed terms should be dumped on the desk of one eric holder (aka holder eric) which could be why, he got another four years.

Well, if guns cause violence, and banning guns ends violence. Then as one woman asked – doesn’t banning penises end rape? Or do you need to ban vaginas? I’m so confused when I try to follow the logic they’re using.

Why gun control is poorly considered:

Robber Beats Dallas Clerk With Several Hammers
Woman Thrown on Subway Tracks During Violent Attack

Why gun control cannot be effective:

Man sneaks into U.S. using stolen canoe and shovel

It’s interesting to note that around one million aliens illegally enter this nation annually and through a narrow corridor, too. They, by definition, are not deterred by proscriptive laws.

Why gun control will not be effective:

Holder Begs Court to Stop Document Release on Fast and Furious

Neither are criminal cartels or their suppliers. Constrained by proscriptive laws, that is. They are, indeed, effective, and organized.

But we don’t have to cede any phrase on the list to the Left, and we shouldn’t.


I agree. That’s why I always use the term “illegal alien” rather than the PC, media and La Raza-approved term “illegal immigrant” or the even more ridiculous “undocumented immigrant/worker/American.”

The left understands the meaning and power of words, which is why they continually try to dictate which words we can use. If the left controls the terms of the debate, the left wins the debate — every time.

Henry Hawkins | January 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Conspiracy theories overheard at my local diner:

The Obama admin took a shot at riding post-New Town shooting anti-gun sentiment and it didn’t work, but having committed themselves in front of their base of libs, they switched to the longer game-plan, that the 23 EAs set the stage for later efforts.

To which a tobacco farmer at the other table added, paraphrased, “naw, what they’re doing is trying to scare ‘bitter clingers’ and tea partiers into doing something violent in response. Nothing will bring average Americans [read: gun owning TP-ers] to a willingness to take up arms in defense of rights against their own government quicker than trying to take their guns away. It’s the social mayhem they’ve been working towards, one of Rahm Emmanuel’s exploitable crises, and it’ll be used to justify God knows what in response.”

There was a time I’d ignore such theories as paranoid. While I don’t ascribe to them now, I would not be at all surprised to learn they are true.