Nomenclature: Of clips and magazines.

In 2007, Tucker Carlson interviewed Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) about her proposed bill that would have basically reinstated the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons ban (a clip of the interview can be viewed here). What follows is my transcription of part of the interview:

Tucker Carlson: Do you know what a barrel shroud is?

Carolyn McCarthy: I actually don’t know what a barrel shroud is.

Tucker Carlson: Oh ok, because it’s in your legislation.

Carolyn McCarthy: I think, believe it’s a shoulder thing that goes up.

Tucker Carlson: No, it’s not.

Prior to this snippet of the conversation, the interviewer asked that same question twice. Rep. McCarthy tried to change the subject twice, bringing up that the legislation would have “more importantly… banned the high capacity clips…”.

One of the issues that I have with this is that we have a politician here who clearly has no idea of what she is trying to ban. The other issue is that every single firearm related term that she used in the entire interview was used incorrectly, clearly demonstrating that she doesn’t know what she is talking about. Yet she expects to be taken seriously.

The really sad thing here is that the terms are not vague, they are precisely descriptive. The “barrel shroud = shoulder thing that goes up” issue aside, nearly all of the proponents of gun control laws get the “clip vs. magazine” thing wrong. Every time. I also hear these two terms used interchangeably by young children, and (sadly) people that call themselves “journalists”.

As it relates to firearms, the term “clip” is defined as follows:

  • clip is a device that is used to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit, ready for insertion into the magazine or cylinder of a firearm.

As it relates to firearms, the term “magazine” is defined as follows:

  • magazine is an ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm.

Here is a picture so that you can better understand why these terms are not interchangeable:

Clearly these are two completely different parts (hence the different names).

Frequently it is argued that the terms are used interchangeably. No, no they are not. Not by people that know what they are talking about. You wouldn’t call a pencil a pen, would you? Or a keyboard a typewriter?

When you use the incorrect terms to describe part of something that you are discussing, it makes you seem like a fool. Especially when you are using incorrect terms to describe something that you are trying to ban (if you don’t even know the name of a thing, how can you expect to be taken seriously when you demand that it be made illegal?). Especially when it is so undeniably easy to learn the correct terms.


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