Gun Owners Need To Shape Debate & Scrap Bad Terminology


    By Megan Boland


    I have two broad statements that I want you to take away from this article; 1)  gun owners are part of the problem, and 2) we can fix this, as it all goes back to training.


    The majority of law-abiding firearm owners practice and implement safe procedures while training at the range. Just going to the range is indicative that the owner understands the necessity for perpetual improvement of their skills. We go to the range to practice accuracy, precision, and speed — ultimately leveraging those to achieve greater results.  It is the focus-driven attention to detail, and correction of habitual problems that make us proficient, adaptable, and confident in our ability to protect. But, the problem for law-abiding firearm owners is not in our range training methodology; it is that we don’t implement the same commitment to accuracy in our messaging.



    Let’s step back to the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban (AWB) it was there that terms like, “assault weapon”, “assault rifle” and “high capacity magazines” came to the forefront as terminology used by legislators and the American public. Since the AWB sunset in 2004, gun owners have been lapse and have adopted those terms as our own. Due to current events  (Aurora and Newtown) as a pro-2nd Amendment community we became suddenly aware that many negatively link the term “assault rifle” with violence, and the potential for mass carnage.  I have heard friends, industry individuals and peers use the term “assault rifle” not fully comprehending they are complicit in negatively branding rifles. 



    There is a disconnect in knowledge of what the modern sporting rifle (semi-automatic) and an “assault rifle” (fully automatic) is. Select politicians and the media are calling for an “assault rifle” ban but since 1986, true assault rifles have been banned, as no new machine guns can be sold to the public. Recycled, inaccurate terminology is hindering our ability to present the facts of our position. 



    Visually, a semi-automatic and an automatic rifle look the same. Both are primarily large, black, and hold a magazine that protrudes downward. The non-firearms educated population visually see them as interchangeable machinery but they also hear them referred to as the same — assault rifle. Allowing visual and spoken reinforcement of their misinformation. My solution? As a community we need to stop calling it an “assault” rifle. We own rifles. By losing the word “assault”  we more accurately portray what our rifles are for; sport, hunting  and / or self-defense. 



    High capacity magazines? Most modern sporting rifles come standard with a thirty round magazine, and most pistols have magazine capacity from 15-18 rounds.  Our rifle magazines are larger than our pistol magazines, but that does not qualify it to be deemed high capacity.  Our magazines are standard. Please stop referring to it as high capacity (unless you have specifically purchased one that has higher capacity than standard with your firearm.)



    As a community we need to make a focused effort of taking the same commitment to accuracy and precision on the range to our vocabulary.  The more pointed we are with our terminology, the more we strategically enable ourselves to repel the misconceptions of firearm / rifle ownership. The forums we like to write on, can start by removing the term “assault rifle section”  (unless it is specifically dedicated to either transferable machine gun assault rifles, or strictly government post ’86 manufactured machine guns). 



    We need to stop unwillingly supporting the misconceptions out there.  I am a firm believer that had we targeted our word choices more aptly over the past years then our public relations situation  wouldn’t be as dire. As Larry Vickers (of Vickers Tactical) slogan says, “Speed is fine, but accuracy is final.”



    It’s not too late for us to take ourselves back to the proverbial range and practice accuracy and precision with our terminology. 


    Megan Boland is the owner of The Downrange Girl. The Downrange Girl is committed to supporting and enhancing female firearm ownership through education, civic participation and providing quality gear for women. You can visit The Downrange Girl at