When USA Today contacted me to write an editorial I asked the Gannet guy why his employer stopped using the term “gun control.” Why’d they adopted the language of the civilian disarmament industry (see what I did there?) and substituted the term “gun safety”? He didn’t miss a beat. “The words ‘gun control’ come with a lot of baggage,” he declared. “So does the term ‘gun safety,'” I countered. “It indicates a clear bias for gun control.” “We are biased,” he admitted. “We’re in favor of it. That’s why we use the term ‘gun safety.'” Bonus points for honesty, I guess. Only USA Today doesn’t restrict their Orwellian language choice to the editorial page. And I didn’t become an OCD gun blogger by leaving well enough alone . . .
“‘Gun safety’ means being safe with a gun,” I said, risking being labelled a pro-pistol pedant. “The people trying to pass new laws are trying to control access to guns. That’s why it’s called ‘gun control.'”
He wouldn’t budge. “We don’t want to give new gun laws a negative slant.”
“Slanting words to suit an agenda is propaganda,” I said. “Are you guys really in the business of propaganda?”
It was a rhetorical question. But there’s no question that Americans agitating for gun control bend words to obfuscate, mischaracterize and mislead the general public about their fervent belief in civilian disarmament.
Check out this lead under msnbc.com‘s Meet two Brooklyn designers fighting for gun reform.
Last month, after 45 U.S. senators struck down gun reform legislation that 90% of Americans supported, two Brooklyn, New York, designers weren’t convinced those lawmakers were representing the people who elected them to their jobs.
“Gun reform”? Guns aren’t bad, deep down, underneath. They just needs to be reformed. Into a peace brick, for example. And this story of anti-gun activism is a perfect example of how gun control advocates try to fly under the radar.
The thing that’s really interesting to us as designers is that we’re not using any of the usual tropes of activism or web language. There are no pictures of guns and we don’t even say that these kids have been killed by guns; you have to click on their names and go to an external site to find out what happened to them.
Thankfully, most of the anti-gunners’ subtlety is lost on low-information voters. But not all of it. Think “assault weapon.” Then think — and say — civilian disarmament. Just because gun rights advocates know the truth about guns doesn’t lessen the importance of telling it like it is. As powerfully as they can.