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Writers decry 'gunsplaining' and 'bullying' amid demands for correct gun terminology

Gun enthusiasts say it's important to use proper terminology when describing firearms.(Getty Images/Artfully79)

Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, many people are becoming "experts" in the gun control debate.

But people claiming that title should at least use proper gun terminology, said Julio Rosas, a writer for the Independent Journal Review who also serves in the Marine Corps Reserve.

Now that gun control debates are once again in the spotlight, gun description blunders are also becoming more common.

“In response to the cascade of criticisms from firearm owners, enthusiasts, and conservative politicians, some in the media are trying to run interference for those who are not well-versed in firearms and how they work,” Rosas wrote.

Specifically, they're calling the criticisms a form of bullying or "gunsplaining."

How were common mistakes defended?

Writer Adam Weinstein penned a piece for the Washington Post titled “The NRA and its allies use jargon to bully gun-control supporters":

Perhaps someone tweets about “assault-style” weapons, only to be told that there's no such thing. Maybe they're reprimanded that an AR-15 is neither an assault rifle nor “high-powered. Or they say something about “machine guns” when they really mean semiautomatic rifles. Or they get sucked into an hours-long Facebook exchange over the difference between the terms clip and magazine.

Has this happened to you? If so, you've been gunsplained: Harangued with the pedantry of the more-credible-than-thou firearms owner, admonished that your inferior knowledge of guns and their nomenclature puts an asterisk next to your opinion on gun control.

Gunsplaining, though, is always done in bad faith. Like mansplaining, it's less about adding to the discourse than smothering it — with self-appointed authority, and often the thinnest of connection to any real fact.

Is this like the 'war on drugs?'

Zack Beauchamp, a writer for Vox, echoed similar concerns. He compared demands for correct terminology to the drug war:

“Saying you need to understand gun terminology to have opinions on gun policy is the equivalent of saying you need to understand the biology of a heroin overdose to have an opinion on the drug war,” Beauchamp wrote.

Another Twitter user called out the comment, and Beauchamp clarified that he was referring to ordinary people, not lawmakers and policy-makers.

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