“Illegal Guns”

A common trend in newspaper articles and quotes from politicos (seems to be the in-thing to do among Democrats who are trying to back away from their strong anti-gun stance) is to refer to “illegal guns” when really they mean “guns being used or carried illegally”.  The truly illegal guns (full-auto, sawed-off or otherwise short-barreled, etc.) are pretty freaking rare in my experience (except in places like DC and Chicago where broad categories of guns are illegal, of course).  This is a major language problem, and we in the gun rights community should fight it at every step.  In conversation: “What, exactly, is an illegal gun?”  “Can you explain what makes it illegal?”  Being sold, used, or carried in an illegal manner does not make the gun itself illegal.

Scenario: Some felon obtains an everyday pump shotgun.  His ownership of the gun is illegal.  The gun itself is not.  If he sells it to a person who is not prohibited from owning firearms, there is nothing illegal with the situation (although the felon could be prosecuted for having owned a gun when he was not allowed to).  The gun itself is not the illegal part.

Every time I see yet another op-ed about “illegal guns on the streets,” I bang my head against the desk.

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