What If We Talked About Dogs the Way We Talk About Firearms?

How mangled terminology impairs America's gun debates


"It's hard to grasp the reaction of someone who understands gun terminology to someone who doesn't," Ken White writes at Popehat. "So imagine we're going through one of our periodic moral panics over dogs and I'm trying to persuade you that there should be restrictions on, say, Rottweilers":

Maybe we should just focus on regulating dog food.
Shelter Island Police

Me: I don't want to take away dog owners' rights. But we need to do something about Rottweilers.

You: So what do you propose?

Me: I just think that there should be some sort of training or restrictions on owning an attack dog.

You: Wait. What's an "attack dog"?

Me: You know what I mean. Like military dogs.

You: Huh? Rottweilers aren't military dogs. In fact "military dogs" isn't a thing. You mean like German Shepherds?

Me: Don't be ridiculous. Nobody's trying to take away your German Shepherds. But civilians shouldn't own fighting dogs.

You: I have no idea what dogs you're talking about now.

Me: You're being both picky and obtuse. You know I mean hounds.

You: What the fuck.

Me: OK, maybe not actually ::air quotes:: hounds ::air quotes::. Maybe I have the terminology wrong. I'm not obsessed with vicious dogs like you. But we can identify kinds of dogs that civilians just don't need to own.

You: Can we?

That comes in the middle of a longer discussion of the ways this country's gun debates go off the rails. You can read the rest here.