AP Stylebook Change on ‘Assault Rifle’ Exposes Biases, Triggers Social Media Brawl

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A new Associated Press style tip about reporting on semi-auto rifles has tiggered a social media brawl involving activists, anti-gunners and journalists., iStock-160713832

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- During the first 24 hours after the Associated Press posted a “style tip” to journalists about avoiding the terms “assault rifle” and “assault weapon,” a verbal brawl has erupted on social media that should be required reading for grassroots gun rights activists, firearms enthusiasts, gun prohibitionists and, yes, members of the working press, some of whom engaged in the digital fisticuffs.

The arguments are continuing on the Facebook and Twitter AP Stylebook sites, and much of the jousting is visceral and occasionally nasty. It is also revealing about the biases of some in the media, on both sides of the issue, and about the basic lack of knowledge some people have when discussing firearms, especially those identified as “assault” this or that.

The Facebook debate had more than 420 comments by Friday morning, and the Twitter notification had been re-tweeted more than 175 times.

What sparked the fireworks were two paragraphs from the AP on suggested revised style:

“The preferred term for a rifle that fires one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, and automatically reloads for a subsequent shot, is a semi-automatic rifle. An automatic rifle continuously fires rounds if the trigger is depressed and until its ammunition is exhausted.

“Avoid assault rifle and assault weapon,” the AP adds, “which are highly politicized terms that generally refer to AR- or AK-style rifles designed for the civilian market, but convey little meaning about the actual functions of the weapon.”

The style tip elicited this reaction on Facebook from Dion Lefler, described online as a senior journalist for the Wichita Eagle: “Who made this bonehead rule? More to the point when and why did the Associated Press become the handmaiden of the gun industry?”

That brought a response from photojournalist Laurence Kesterson: “You should re-read the second graf of the AP Style Tip. They’re avoiding the terms assault rifles and weapons because they are highly politicized terms while conveying little meaning about the actual functions. You proved their point with your Pavlovian response. Clearly you have a partisan take on guns, and that’s okay if your role is as an advocate. However, the AP claims to be nonpartisan journalism, not advocacy.”

Lefler’s remark drew several reactions, most of them in rebuttal.

Veteran journalist Emily Miller, author of “Emily Gets Her Gun,” entered the discussion with professional level-headedness and simply asked AP in a tweet, “Do you now recommend print reporters put the term “assault weapon” or “assault rifle” in quotation marks inside quotes from political figures? Example: “‘Assault weapons’ need to be banned,” said Pres. Biden at the White House on Monday.”

Excellent question, and so far, nobody has provided an official reply. But the queryreflected an observation made by Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, who publicly applauded the AP Thursday for suggesting the changes.

“It will be interesting to see if the media now challenges politicians and anti-gun lobbyists whenever they use such terms,” Gottlieb stated.

Gottlieb, who also chairs the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, told Ammoland News Friday morning that a statement released to the media, which appears in Ammoland here, was “picked up by most of the gun media and conservative news sites.”

“But,” he said, “the general media has ignored it. That was really surprising to me because the mainstream press likes to report on media news.”

Chris Knox, son of the late, legendary gun rights advocate Neal Knox, twisted the knife a bit with this tweet: “Can we talk about “gun safety” as a euphemism for “gun control?” His query is also unsurprisingly being met with crickets.

In recent years, in addition to repeatedly tapping the gun control lexicon in news reports about “assault rifles,” the terms “gun safety” and “gun reform” have crept into articles about gun control as substitute references. At TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, as well as Ammoland and other news platforms covering firearms, reports typically include references to “so-called ‘assault rifles.’”

Other remarks, from people not part of the media but certainly with anti-gun viewpoints, included “F—k you and the NRA. They care more about profits than gun owners anyway,” and “Yeah, shooting grade school kids is pretty sporting.”

The AP suggestion comes as the 56th edition of the Associated Press Stylebook is now available. According to the AP, this new edition “includes more than 300 new or revised entries, with chapters covering data journalism, business, religion and sports terms, as well as media law, news values, punctuation, social media and polls and surveys, plus a new chapter on inclusive storytelling.”

The book spans 612 pages and is available either as a paperback or a spiral bound volume.


About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Dave Workman

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Wake up! Liberal adversaries don’t seek “safe” guns. They seek the END of guns! Take the trendy new “extended” background check for example. Does anybody really think this is going to shut liberals up? And “Trump supporters” are finally trusted with guns?


The “Authorized Propagandists” trying to cover the butts — again.


I have to admit, this is one move I did not see coming.


I guess I should have been considered an “Assault or Assaulting Weapon” because back when I was young and very stupid, I was very dangerous not only to aggressors but to just about anyone I didn’t see eye to eye with. I was born under a bad sign and I wasn’t able to set it loose properly.


If a hammer is used to assault someone it is an assault weapon. As the AP points out, not conveying the meaning that was intended.


Is there any mention in that style book about using the proper legal term illegal alien instead of ‘illegal immigrant’…? Or perhaps the AP would consider a more accurate descriptor like illegal invader…?

Last edited 1 month ago by Wildman
Wild Bill

The term illegal alien comes directly out of the Immigration Act. The term Illegal Immigrant comes from directly from libtards.


The Progressive New Left learned its lessons on propaganda from watching the masters of propaganda behind the Iron Curtain. They understand one clear truth: effective propaganda must be at least 90% based in truth to be credible and to be effective. So, back when I was a Marine Infantryman, MOS 0311,0369 and eventually 0302 I was issued and carried and led Marines who were issued and carried Service Rifles. The M-14, M-16 et al were and remain Service Rifles in all of our technical and field manuals and other training and directive materials. I did not actually see the term… Read more »


Words have meanings Assault Weapons Black Guns these are definitions we could have done without. Dave which was the first firearm manufacture to use the term Assault Weapon to describe their products if there was one. Exactly what constitutes a so-called “assault weapon” is a highly contentious issue and something that riles up some gun advocates like myself. States also tend to have different definitions in gun laws for what is an assault weapon or assault rifle, and it often changes when lawmakers seek to close what they perceive as loopholes. This is the problem that needs to be fixed.… Read more »


“This is the problem that needs to be fixed.” Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? A: Only one. But the light bulb has to want to change. The problem you mention will never be fixed for a couple of reasons. One is that the language changes as people use it. I suspect it will be a long time before you hear people sing “Don we now our gay apparel” again. Another is that some people profit from the ambiguity and confusion. Josh Sugarman even mentions that the confusion in the public’s minds would make… Read more »

Wild Bill

It is true that English is a living language, but the problem to be fixed, as I see it, is that we have failed to take the lead in creating new terms and word uses that benefit us.
We wait until it is too late. Assault weapon is so fundamental in the minds of lnonshooters that coming up with modern sporting rifle is almost useless.


See my comments above for the history of the term.


John, the first person to coin the term “Assault Weapon” was scumbag Josh Sugarman from the Violence Policy Center!


It stands for Armalite Rifle. I think it was around 1958 it was a lighter smaller caliber from the AR-10 Armalite was competing for a new government issue firearm to compete against the M14 which had a higher failure rate. This was all for Vietnam. The government chose to stay with the M14 which caused a financial burden on Armalite so they sold the rights to Colt. Don’t flame me if I’m a little off on the facts and dates. Also check out the article that shows the original design for the SP- was a hunting sporter rifle. You can… Read more »

Dry gulched

Consider this: In the dems new gun grab bill any gun with a magazine that holds more than , I believe, 10 rounds is an assault rifle and will be banned. So that means my .22 lr Marlin model 60 holds 15 rounds and is considered an assault rifle by them. Don’t believe anything they say . They want all the guns.


You know what? It’s starting to come clear why liberals are so preoccupied with firearms. Pushy. Bossy. And so dedicated to other people’s business, if anybody on earth was meant to look down a barrel one day, it’s them!


The sissy scumbags know they can ever have “full control” of anything against an armed populace.


just add the two never ever have control, ….and you do know in the right corner of your posts is a gear click on that and option to edit pops up I have a numb finger so i miss letters in words and need to fix it……nothing like 60 wpm and 47 errors


I really appreciate that info.


True, and that’s not all. The leftards refuse to learn H-I-S-T-O-R-Y because they live in anti-reality. This is why we see stories like Leah Lokan and they refuse to accept that their Marxist overlords despise every inch of their being and after the useful idiots have been exploited to their fullest, yes just like all the other useful idiots before them, they will get their opportunity to see the working end of their masters rifle.


they want to write His story , nothing to do with the past just their narrative, facts be dammed


the busy bodies that get in your face dont want to be shot, they are rabid and mangy ……I have yet to meet one that can converse about a subject without trying to dominate it even when ,and more to the point especially when they are wrong


Yes. These are the “Useful Idiots” that Stalin referred to. And, their Communist pals will double cross them in the end and they will indeed be looking at the business end of the gun!


quicker and cheeper to gas them would think they learned that from Hitler


Thanks for helping LaPierre’s “Winning Team” grifters destroy the NRA, Dave.

“We tried to fire Wayne in ’97. Workman turned coat to block the reform”

“I served with you & had forgotten about Workman’s duplicity.”


Why don’t you shut your mouth on Dave? All you do is insult on here every one of Dave’s post. Your despicable.


Every time Dave puts out an article this person posts the same garbage. All he does is slander,insult,and argue with people on this site. I just consider the source and downvote his BS whenever I can.


it is not slander when it is true, he just wont let dave live it down.


Correct. Not until he admits it, apologizes, and repents.


Ope (Will/TEX) doesn’t know the difference between slander and libel. He also doesn’t understand the defenses available to people accused of slander or libel. He has proven this before. He spent a significant part of his life in a job that didn’t require him to be right or make a reasoned argument. He just arrested anyone who didn’t respect his authority. People in those positions lie and their tribe members lie to support them. Ope (Will/TEX) hates Wayne, but for some reason he supports Dave who was actually in a position to “do something” about Wayne. It may have something to do with Dave’s… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by JSNMGC
Wild Bill

Oh, you have been admitted to the Wyoming Bar! Congratulations. Thumbs up.

Last edited 29 days ago by Wild Bill

Wild Bill, you have indicated you have a law degree and passed the Bar Exam – do you agree with Ope’s contention that Russn8r’s posts about Dave are “slander?”  

Wild Bill

Attorneys should not offer “curb side” advice.

Last edited 29 days ago by Wild Bill

Should they post snarky comments in defense of an ex-enforcer who is wrong?


Bill,how’s everything thing been going out at the ranch ?


Ope-Dope, TEX. All you do is suck up for approval, upvote yourself & downvote those who don’t kiss ex-cop ass – with your sock pups

Last edited 30 days ago by Russn8r

Why don’t you stop shilling for those who helped LaPew wreck the NRA?

“Your” despicable and illiterate, and you sound like a crybaby.

Last edited 30 days ago by Russn8r