Rhetoric Shifts From 'Gun Control' to 'Gun Rights'

Nate Silver: Change in semantics seems to be helping the gun lobby
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2012 8:47 AM CST

(Newser) – Nate Silver applies his number-crunching ways to the debate over guns and finds that opponents of stricter laws might be winning with the help of semantics. His analysis of newspaper articles finds that the phrase "gun control" is being used much less than it was in the 1980s and 1990s, while "gun rights" and references to the Second Amendment have increased, he writes in the New York Times. Also up is use of the term "gun violence," all of which suggests to Silver that the debate has become more polarized in recent years.

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Silver views "gun control" as relatively neutral, but it's largely been replaced. One side mostly cites violence, while the other mostly cites constitutional liberties. So who's winning? "Polling evidence suggests that the public has gone from tending to back stricter gun control policies to a more ambiguous position in recent years," he writes. "There may be some voters who think that the Constitution provides broad latitude to own and carry guns—even if the consequences can sometimes be tragic." Read the full post here. (Read more Connecticut school shooting stories.)

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