To the best of my recollection, sometime in the 1990s, the corporate media welded “gun” to “violence,” creating a rhetorical Frankenstein’s monster. With the exception of former Attorney General Janet Reno’s occasional combat operations against her fellow citizens, anytime a firearm featured into a crime, “gun violence” was blamed. People actually began falling victim to “gun violence” or “gun crime” or even “assault weapons.” Somehow, the Democrats managed to eliminate the perpetrators of crime, conjuring up images of walking, talking inanimate objects that loaded themselves and then hit the streets like the marching hammers in “Pink Floyd The Wall.”
And the American left sat up, brushed the crumbs off their bellies and began howling for someone to save them from the evil hordes of guns that had ruined their reverie. Not one ever noted the most important trait of phrases such as “gun violence,” “gun crime” and “assault weapons”: They’re idiotic deformations of the language.
To be sure, violence, crime and assault are certainly not idiotic. Anyone who has served in combat, worked in law enforcement, been victimized by a criminal or even observed unsupervised union thugs interacting with senior citizens who oppose Obamacare knows that real violence is really not funny. Nor should it ever be taken lightly. Therefore, when liberals attach “gun” to “violence” in an overt effort to demonize the implement by which violence is visited upon a victim, they’re diminishing not only the actions of the offender, but the suffering of the victim.
I often hear my fellow conservatives respond to liberal, anti-Bill of Rights activists by asking, “What about ‘knife violence?'” or positing some similar rhetorical argument. I say that kind of response is mistaken on two fronts:
- By demanding further qualifications (i.e., “knife violence,” “car violence” or “bat violence”), conservatives are ceding ground liberals don’t actually occupy. Once you say “knife violence,” you’ve acknowledged “gun violence” is a legitimate classification. It isn’t. Violence is violence.
- By ceding said ground, conservatives are allowing liberals to define the issue as being about inanimate objects rather than people. It may be clichéd, but “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” is indubitably accurate. Indeed, it’s a far more accurate assessment of the nature of crime and violence than mealymouthed platitudes liberals might form to cast blame on the wrong culprit.
From the dawn of recorded history until this very moment, no gun has ever inflicted violence on anyone, harmed anyone or killed anyone. Even in the rare cases of accidental discharge, the gun was merely a means of conveyance, like a car is to transportation. People hurt each other and themselves. Since guns are just hunks of metal and polymer, they can’t form intent, much less cause harm. Left to their own devices, guns are overengineered doorstops, paperweights and/or art.
Recently, The Associated Press announced the elimination of “illegal immigrant” and “islamist” from its stylebook. Evidently, that once-respected organization worries about the feelings of, well, illegal immigrants and islamists. By my own reckoning, both phrases lack a certain lyrical accuracy; I prefer the more legally accurate “illegal alien” and “islamofascist.” But I can’t help but notice that while The AP – and, hence, the corporate media — tries to adjust the lexicon to reflect the delicate sensitivities of criminals, it possesses no such compunction about the legitimate concerns of law-abiding Americans.