How to Rebrand The “Assault Rifle”

During his recent visit to The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, Mexican President Felipe Calderon called for a renewal of the Clinton-era ban on assault rifles. Today’s Washington Times eviscerates his argument with the facts of the matter. Of course, facts have nothing to do with the “debate” over assault rifles. Those who oppose the firearms genre don’t want to consider the invidious distinctions needed to separate assault rifles from any other type of rifle, or contemplate the assault rifle’s relatively minor role in gun crime. It’s a prima facie case. Assault rifles look like the guns used by the military. Why do we want to give people access to the same guns we give our military? What happens when assault weapons get into the hands of criminals, hate groups or terrorists? See? See what happens? You can’t argue with that point-of-view. Nor should you. There is a better way.

I don’t know what marketing maven coined the term “modern sporting rifle,” but it wasn’t the guys who came up with “Pet Rock” or “Mood Ring.” Whereas the rechristened aggregate of minerals (and/or mineraloids) and finger-mounted thermochromic liquid crystal made the absurd/esoteric user-friendly, the words “modern sporting rifle” have the exact opposite effect.

First of all, “modern sporting rifle” sounds like what it is: code. It’s the worst kind of euphemism: one that sounds like a euphemism. It signals skeptical listeners that the speaker is trying to hide the truth of the matter. Differently abled. Out-source. Motion discomfort bag. Modern sporting rifle.

Let’s break it down . . .

Start with the word “modern.” It’s SO old-fashioned. The post-modern word for “modern” is “high tech” or “cutting edge.” Yes, well, that’s not gonna work either. So you’re telling me it’s OK for the average person to own a high tech, cutting edge rifle/killing machine? Why do I want you, a civilian, to own a weapon that’s better than the ones the police or military use?

Now “sporting.” Sporting? As in shooting animals? Oh, that’s OK then. Not. You say these are hunting guns? Yeah for hunting people. Which makes me, the non-modern sporting rifle owner, prey. What part of “ban these things” don’t you understand?

And then there’s “rifle.” While you and I might consider the word “rifle” about as emotionally charged as the word “fork,” gun aversive people tend to associate the word “rifle” with “military.” That’s because gun control folk live in urban areas. They don’t hunt. They don’t know anyone who hunts. They don’t watch hunting on TV. So the only rifles they see are the ones in war movies, news footage of military combat and . . . sniper rifles in TV shows and movies.

[Quick aside: does anyone seriously believe that Mr Plaid shirt, backed by the Saving Private Ryan orchestra, is winning friends and influencing people who see black guns as black death? What's with that axe? And spinning the rifle so that the barrel points at the viewer may not have been such a great idea. At all.]

OK, so here’s the answer: “home defense gun.”

NOTE: “home” not “personal.” If it was a “personal defense weapon,” assault rifle opponents could accuse their owners of unjustifiable paranoia. I mean, you can’t very well carry an AR-style rifle under a coat or in a car. Well, you can. But you get my drift.

Anyway, who would begrudge an American the right to defend their home with a home defense gun? (Forgetting accidentally on purpose to mention that more than a few people reckon they need to defend themselves against the U.S. government.) Gun control advocates, of course. But that’s a LOT better discussion than trying to debate whether or not a citizen should own an assault rifle, n’est-ce pas?

Bonus! You start out calling ALL guns home defense guns. Then, if pushed, you refer to AR-style weaponry as “home defense rifles.” Even your fallback position is safe from the slings and arrows of outrageous rhetoric. If a criminal misuses a home defense gun for an unlawful act or “assault,” well, that’s like using a kitchen knife to stab someone. See how that works?

And aren’t AR-style guns excellent home defense guns? Sure, I recommend a close-at-hand 9mm leading to a shotgun. But if someone wants to use an AR during a Castle Doctrine encounter, that’s good too. In fact, home defense guns are a perfectly defensible gun for home defense. Ipso factolutely. Right?