In gun debate, even language can be loaded

tags: NYT, guns, gun control, language



WASHINGTON — When the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence wanted to promote more restrictions on firearms after the Connecticut school shootings in December, it turned to a firm to help publicize its position. The firm’s name? Point Blank Public Affairs....

The ubiquitous nature of such language has caused people on both sides of the emotional debate in recent weeks to take back, or at least think twice about the phrases they use, lest they inadvertently cause offense in a moment of heightened sensitivity.

“It’s almost second nature,” said Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs for the National Rifle Association. “They’re such mainstream phrases, you almost have to check yourself and double-check yourself.”

But it also says something about the long American romance with guns and the nation’s self image. “All of that ties into the frontier tradition, rugged individualism, a single American with a flintlock or a gun of some kind holding off the Indians or fighting off the British,” said Robert Spitzer, a scholar of gun control at the State University of New York at Cortland....



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