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"Gun Control": The Least Effective Way to Achieve Gun Reform

Iowa Now. (

The Problem with the Term “Gun Control”

New terms are often developed by political parties to sway the general public in their favor. These terms are carefully coined to align with specific agendas. They are, in fact, used to control the way people react to what politicians and other influential people say. As George Lakoff, a cognitive linguist from the University of California at Berkeley, argues often, Republicans purposefully choose their words because they are aware of their power. [1] As an example, Lakoff cites the Republican-coined term “tax-relief.” He explains that they framed the term to convey that taxes are an affliction from which they need to be relieved. Anyone, particularly a Democrat, who disagrees with the term “tax relief” is not only accepting taxes as an affliction but is painted as a villain for not wanting relief from an affliction. [2]

Likewise, while the term “gun control” derives from the Gun Control Act of 1968, [3] it has been reframed in recent years by the Republican Party. The word control has taken a new form--one which it is believed that the Democratic government wishes to overstep its boundaries and infringe upon Americans’ Second Amendment rights. The reframing of the term has halted the gun reform process. Some Democrats, such as former President Barack Obama, realize this tactic and use terms such as “reducing gun violence,” or “gun-violence legislation” [4] instead.

Lekton (

What Do Democrats Actually Want, Concerning Guns?

One of Lakoff’s main points about the Republican Party is that its ideas stay true, regardless of the people in office. They invest billions of dollars into think tanks and implementing spokespeople to convey their ideas in a way that represents their party ideals. Furthermore, Republicans, he argues, have been framing since as early as the 1970’s. [5] Republicans define their goals in a standard, structured manner that is easy to understand and reinforce.

Lakoff argues that the Democratic Party lacks the same authenticity. Democrats need to learn how to frame their beliefs into words that make them seem heroic. Like the term “tax relief,” framed by the Republican Party, Democrats need a term that illustrates gun violence as an affliction from which the American people need to be relieved. Democrats only demand “mandatory child safety locks…require a photo license I.D., a background check, and a gun safety test to buy a new handgun.” [6] They need a term to reflect those ideas, not one that reflects control over people's rights.

Beyond the Law

There is only so much the government can do to protect civilians from gun violence. Most of the safety practices happen after someone walks out of a gun shop with a firearm. As a case in point, some parents neglect to secure firearms in their homes. This might have resulted in a fourth and fifth grader bringing guns to their elementary schools on June 6, 2018. [7] While it is unclear whether or not the students brought guns to their school due to parental neglect, many people, specifically minors, having access to firearms without having to undergo the purchasing process.


[1] Powell, Bonnie A. “Framing the issues: UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff Tells How Conservatives Use Language to Dominate Politics.” UC Berkeley News. October 27, 2003. Accessed June 4, 2016.

[2] Lakoff, George. “A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, And What the Majority Can Do

.” George Lakoff. November 22, 2016. Accessed June 4, 2016.

[3] “PUBLIC LAW 90-618-OCT. 22, 1968 .” Government Publishing Office. Accessed June 5, 2018.

[4] Ball, Molly. “Don’t Call It ‘Gun Control’.” The Atlantic. January 16, 2013. Accessed June 5, 2018.

[5] Powell, “Framing the issues: UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff Tells How Conservatives Use Language to Dominate Politics.” UC Berkeley News.

[6] “Democratic Party on Gun Control.” On the Issue. January 20, 2018. Accessed June 11, 2018.

[7] “2 young boys arrested for allegedly bringing gun, loading it on NJ bus.” Eyewitness News. June 6, 2018. Accessed June 11, 2018.

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