Adjectives are interesting. These descriptive words can be very influential or informative. We use these words to provide details — to paint a picture — to fill in the gaps. But this gives the user of the adjectives a lot of unique power. Consider, for instance, the following scenario:

A white, unmarked van pulls into a suburban neighborhood. It’s midday. The streets are quiet. The houses, too, are mostly empty, as people have been at work now for several hours. One house on the corner still has its inhabitants, however. An older retired couple is watching a favorite movie in their family room. They don’t even notice the vehicle as it pulls into their driveway. They don’t have a clue that right outside, a man has opened the doors to his van and is now looking over a huge assortment of murder tools, deciding which to use today.

OK, OK … So I purposefully manipulated one very important adjective here. And it completely changed the entire scene, didn’t it? But let me rephrase that part now: “They don’t have a clue that right outside, a man has opened the doors to his van and is now looking over a huge assortment of repair tools, deciding which to use today.”

Much better. Our couple is in no danger now. They are just getting their refrigerator fixed today. But isn’t it interesting how that one word — that descriptor — made all the difference! Keep in mind that hammers, screwdrivers, saws and wrenches could all possibly be used as weapons. In fact, there are times when evil people have chosen everyday items like these to carry out evil deeds. But we don’t label them “murder tools.” That would instantly and unnecessarily create negativity and fear about all tools.

Now Apply It to Firearms

And that’s exactly what happens when people use the term “assault weapons” or “assault rifles.”

Firearms have also been chosen by evil people to carry out evil deeds. But that one label instantly and unnecessarily creates negativity and fear about all guns. It totally changes the narrative … changes people’s minds. And that’s what the anti-gun people hope will happen. You’ve got to admit: It’s an effective tactic. But you should remember that tactic next time you hear it used. Think about how it can completely change how people feel or what they believe. Consider this scenario:

A young woman wakes to a crashing sound at the back of her house. It’s shortly past midnight. She lives alone, but now she distinctly hears voices of at least two intruders. She quickly locks her bedroom door while grabbing for her phone and dialing 911. Before anyone answers, the voices grow closer, and the woman hears one of the men ask the other if the girl is “in here.” She was. She was trapped, and she could easily be overwhelmed. Fearing for her life, she opens her safe and retrieves her assault gun.

Wait … what? See, that doesn’t sound right at all, does it? And while it’s purposefully exaggerated in this tale, the deceptions and inaccuracies still occur daily in news stories across the nation. And that one descriptive term subconsciously (or noticeably) puts doubt or fault in the hands of responsible gun owners.

Of course, we know that the last line in the story should read: “Fearing for her life, she opens her safe and retrieves her defense gun.” But those who are afraid of guns don’t want to use those adjectives. They want to continue to describe all guns as dangerous and all gun owners as bad. It’s up to us to recognize the word problem and change the narrative. Take charge of those adjectives and be a good influence for the responsibly armed.