The Associated Press Advises Against Using “Assault Rifle” and “Assault Weapon” in News Reports

Image of the AP Stylebook entry defining assault weaponAfter 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.”

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.”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Checklist: Matters to Consider When Deciding on a Handgun which includes links to web articles that are glossaries of gun terms ]


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