SHOT Show: NSSF’s War of the Words

The SHOT Show is run by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). Like our South African friend over at thefirearmsblog.com, the NSSF tries to avoid politics. As did the NRA during its early days. Now that the NSSF has grown in power and money and scope, it’s gradually flexing its political muscles. At the annual dinner celebrating the org’s 50th anniversary, the retrospective video was all about “us vs. them”—in the nicest possible way (a soporific grandfatherly announcer walking through the woods, chronicling changes in latitudes and changes in attitudes in American gun laws). Another sign of societal engagement: The Writer’s Guide to Firearms and Ammunition . . .

We’re talking Firearms for Media Dummies.

The glossary is a great idea—from Action (“The combined parts of a firearm that enable it to be loaded, discharged and unloaded”) to Weapon (“An instrument used in combat. The term should never be used in referring to sporting firearms”).

Is an AR-15—often used for hunting feral pigs by our militia-minded amigos in Texas—a weapon or not? In any case, the NSSF is getting a bit of a ‘tude.

And how. My favorite: SECTION V: EXAMPLES OF INACCURATE OR MISLEADING COVERAGE. The pamphlet gives an example (OFF-TARGET) and what the writer should have said (ON-TARGET) followed by an EXPLANATION. For example . . .

OFF-TARGET

“A hollow point, or dumdum, bullet expands on contact with human flesh, so it kills or incapacitates more often that an conventional bullet.” —David Firestone, “N.Y. Times”

ON-TARGET

Your problem being? JUST KIDDING. Let’s try that again.

ON-TARGET

A hollow point bullet has a cavity in the nose to facilitate expansion on impact.

EXPLANATION

Hollow-point bullets are not synonymous with dumdum bullets . . . A dumdum bullet was a Briutish military bullet developed in India’s Dum-Dum Arsenal in 1897 – 98. It was a jacketed .303 caliber bullet with the jacket nose (tip of the bullet) left open to expose the lead core in hopes of greater effectiveness. Further development of the bullet was not pursued because the Hague Convention on 1899 outlawed such bullets for warfare. Virtually all cities arm their police officers with expanding ammunition in order to minimize over-penetration, ricochets and and other dangers to bystanders.

As you can see, the NSSF hasn’t quite got the right rhetorical weapons—sorry, modern home defense sporting words—for the task. But the fact that they’re trying to keep it real in the world of firearms reporting reveals an increasingly interesting relationship between the NSSF and the NRA. TTAG’s keeping on eye on this one.

comments

  1. avatar AuricTech says:

    Last week, National Review Online had a piece called “How to Write About Firearms.”

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