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How the Orwellian Term "Gun Violence" is used to Push Citizen Disarmament

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The term “gun violence” has been deliberately inculcated into the public debate over the last 20 years. It is common in news articles. It has been used in numerous court briefs. It appears in court decisions at the appellate level and in amicus briefs to the Supreme Court.

George Orwell, in the novel 1984, explained how language can be structured to eliminate and curtail thought. 

“Gun violence” is an Orwellian term designed to structure and limit debate to pre-determined solutions. It is designed to hamper the ability to think about reality in certain ways. The purpose of Orwellian structuring of language is to make it difficult or impossible to think certain thoughts or entertain certain concepts. This is the purpose of the term “gun violence”. The term “gun violence” frames the problem as guns.  It frames all violence committed with guns as illegitimate.

Guns can be used or misused. Violence can be legitimate or illegitimate.

Guns can be used for legitimate purposes such defense, hunting, recreation, and multiple target sports. Guns can be used for illegitimate purposes, primarily for crime. Guns can be used for suicide. The legitimacy of suicide is a hotly debated topic.

Violence is like gravity. It is neutral.

Violence can be used for legitimate purposes and illegitimate purposes. Defending yourself and your country is a legitimate use of violence. Killing animals or plants for food is a legitimate use of violence. We celebrate those who save themselves and others.

Discourage criminal violence. Encourage legitimate violence.

The two sides of the debate on guns are primarily about responsibility and free will vs lack of responsibility and lack of free will. Those who want a disarmed population transfer volition and responsibility to events outside the individual, particularly to inanimate objects. Thus, they remove responsibility and free will from any discussion of how to solve problems. Accepting and using the term “gun violence” as a problem restricts what solutions are allowed and what can be discussed. The term eliminates discussion of legitimate uses of guns, and of legitimate purposes for violence.

Much of the nomenclature about the debate over an armed population has been deliberately created to move peoples thoughts into the channels desired by those seeking to disarm the public.

The National Council to Control Handguns was formed in 1974. It became Handgun Control Inc. in 1980. Handgun Control Inc., later created a related entity, The Center to Control Handgun Violence. In 2001, the name was changed to: “Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence”

Before 2000, what was sold to the public was violent crime reduction.

As the number of guns and handguns increased in society, and the number of people legally able to carry handguns for protection increased, and violent crime decreased significantly.  This phenomena was clear by 2000. This created a problem for those who wanted to disarm society.

There was, and is, no obvious causal link between violent crime and gun ownership.

Those who wanted to disarm the public changed the publicly stated purpose of what they wanted to do. First, it was to reduce violent crime, which is overwhelmingly committed with handguns. It was changed from reducing violent crime to reducing  the Orwellian term “gun violence”. Gun violence was defined to include suicides as well as all homicides with guns and the tiny number of fatal gun accidents. The per capita rate of gun ownership was increasing.

Suicide rates were rising, even as the percentage of suicides with guns was falling.

The new term allowed those who wanted the population disarmed to say “gun violence” is increasing.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics had a similar term, firearms violence. Firearms violence statistics never included suicides, for good reason. The causes and dynamics of violent crime and suicide are very different.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics was still using “firearms violence” in 2018.

There is a problem with Orwellian terms. They contradict reality. Legal changes in firearms status has no significant effect on homicides or suicides.

“Gun violence” is a term used to channel concern with criminal violence and suicides into a policy discussion on how to restrict gun ownership and gun use.

What can be done?

Do not use the term “gun violence”. Substitute the term “criminal violence”. 

When the term “gun violence” is used, point out the Orwellian purpose. Explain the term “gun violence” limits what is allowed in a debate. If you think “Orwellian” is too strong a term, say it is a loaded term. Point out terms such as these are used to shape public opinion. Their purpose is to reduce what thoughts are allowed.

Gun laws do not reduce homicides or suicides. Those bent on homicide or suicide substitute other methods. The purpose of the term “gun violence” is to channel thought toward restricting gun ownership and use.

Guns have been useful for 500 years. They continue to be useful.

Safety from accidents is not the same as safety from attack. Fatal gun accidents are rare.  Fatal attacks are much more common.

Those who want to disarm you do not have your best interests in mind.

©2022 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch



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