A breakdown of gun terminology to help you in discussions on mass shootings and debates over gun control

John Haltiwanger
A breakdown of gun terminology to help you in discussions on mass shootings and debates over gun control

Joshua Roberts/Reuters

  • The language surrounding firearms can be tricky, and the gun lobby sometimes seeks to discredit gun control advocates by pointing to incorrect use of gun-related terminology.

  • "Assault weapons," for example, is among the most divisive phrases in debates over gun control.

  • There's been a renewed discussion over gun control following several mass shootings in the past few weeks that took place in California, Texas, and Ohio.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

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Given ongoing and divisive debate over gun control in the US, it's helpful to understand the breakdown of some of the most important terms that frequently come up after mass shootings.

Some of these terms might appear inconsequential, but relate strongly to discussions on what type of guns and firearm accessories should be regulated more strictly or even banned. (And some in the pro-Second Amendment camp have been known to mock people calling for new gun laws when they use incorrect terminology in reference to firearms.)

Semi-automatic vs. automatic

Gene Blevins/Reuters

Connecticut State Police/Reuters

Brian Witte/Associated Press

Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

George Frey/Reuters

Reuters

Associated Press/Philip Kamrass

Associated Press