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 these “highly politicized terms,” and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) says it’s a “smart gun change.”
“It’s about time the media realized the terms ‘assault rifle’ and ‘assault weapon’ are inflammatory and meaningless,” says 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.
According to an 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.”
“I’m glad to see the AP Stylebook now recognizes that these firearms only fire one round each time a trigger is pulled,” he continued, “and really function no differently than any other semi-auto rifle, pistol, or shotgun, all of which have been in common use in this country for more than a century.”