Handbook on Editorial Mindset and Style Guide
This is a living document that we update.
Newest update of this page: 15 November 2020
- Statement of Values and Principles
- Editorial Mindset
- Guiding Principles
- Words and Phrases to Avoid, or Use With Care
TheGunBlog.ca has become a powerful voice for Canadian gun owners and businesses through our ideas and how we communicate them:
- What we say, and how we say it.
This handbook aims to provide insight into our mindset and methods.
Statement of Values and Principles
We are biased.
- We are biased, opinionated and principled.
We stand for …
- We stand for personal power, liberty, and responsibility.
- We stand for responsible gun owners.
- We stand for sound policy, good governance, the rule of law, and government transparency and accountability.
- We stand for principles of fundamental justice, such as:
- the right to defend our lives and our homes with the best technology available.
- the right to personal property and the means to defend it.
- the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
- the right to live free from prosecution or persecution for actions that are neither harmful nor immoral.
We stand against …
- We stand against restrictions that disempower individuals unless those restrictions can be justified to a high ethical and practical standard.
- We stand against people who work to criminalize innocent men and women and confiscate their property.
- We stand against people who distort, deceive and demonize for politics or profit.
We respect standard journalism values and ethics … minus the self-serving self-righteousness.
- We are committed to honesty, accuracy, independence, fairness and other principles of journalism ethics. See Canadian Association of Journalists Ethics Guidelines.
- We are committed to transparency in our sources of information. We provide names, dates, details, full quotations, original documents, context and links so you know where, when and how we get our info.
- We correct mistakes as soon as we can and are transparent about our corrections.
- We recognize that assumptions, biases, and preferences are inherent to what we do. We don’t pretend to be free of them.
- We consider it dishonest and duplicitous when media pretend to be impartial, neutral, objective and unbiased.
- (There’s nothing wrong with being biased. The dishonesty is being biased while pretending you aren’t.)
Our Editorial Mindset
- Language reflects bias, often unconscious bias and systemic bias.
- We work continuously to improve the accuracy and clarity of what we say and how we say it.
Cheerleader and Watchdog
- We are cheerleaders for responsible gun users and watchdogs for those working to eliminate us.
- We celebrate gun ownership and focus on its advantages and benefits.
- We hold governments, regulators, police, businesses and individuals accountable as we report and research all aspects of the firearm industry, gun policy, gun politics and gun culture.
Focus on People
- We focus on people, not things. We focus on the people who use guns, not on the guns.
- Most other media focus on the gear, and ignore the people who use it.
- Guns don’t protect people, people do. Guns don’t hurt people, people do. Guns don’t go to jail, people do. Guns don’t have rights, people do.
- We focus on people as causes of action, and as the effects of action.
- Individuals act. Things don’t act. Organizations don’t act.
- An individual’s actions affects other people.
- Actions and outcomes are often attributed to organizations as a way to shield individuals from responsibility and accountability.
- We focus on the people who own and use guns for good, and the people working to suppress them. We focus on the people who defend and protect.
- Most other media focus on the victims of attackers and what tools the assailants used. They completely ignore or downplay the men and women who stopped the aggressors.
- Focus: Families, couples, friends, hunters and sport shooters, Olympic athletes, world-class hunters, federally licensed firearm owners, the hunting and shooting community, millions of men and women who hunt and shoot safely and responsibly, …
- Examples in context:
- Say: “The prime minister promised to confiscate guns from hunters and sport shooters.” OR “The prime minister promised to jail hunters and sport shooters unless they surrender their guns to police.”
- Avoid: “The government announced gun bans.”
Focus on Principles
- We focus on principles that we cherish, such as autonomy, family, community, defence, freedom, fun, joy, justice, protection, safety, security, self-reliance, survival, …
- We refer to this as focusing on software over hardware.
- Most other media focus on hardware, the guns.
Focus on the Positive
- We focus on the advantages and benefits of gun ownership and use.
- Most other media work as anti-gun activists and focus exclusively and obsessively on the disadvantages and costs of gun use.
- The easiest way to identify prohibitionists is their focus on crime and violence.
- Focus: Art, camaraderie, collecting, community, competition, defence, discipline, education, engineering, family, fellowship, fitness, freedom, friendship, fun, health, history, hunting, investing, justice, marksmanship, predator control, proficiency, protection, providing, recreation, responsibilities, rights, safety, security, skill, sportsmanship, survival, workmanship …
- Avoid: Crime, death, homicide, injury, killing, murder, suicide, violence, …
Focus on the Popular
- We focus on how popular gun ownership is and how mainstream hunting and shooting are.
- Most other media portray gun ownership as a fringe activity.
- “Guns are normal and normal people use guns.” — David Yamane
- Canada is home to millions of adults with a federal firearm licence, and millions more unlicensed family and friends who hunt and shoot safely and responsibly under the control of permit holders.
Focus on the Practical
- We focus on the practical processes and procedures of legitimate gun use.
- Canada’s legislative framework for gun ownership in 2020 is deliberately designed to treat gun owners as criminals with a temporary waiver from prosecution if they have the right paperwork. “The punishment is the process.”
- Like it or not, Canada has strict laws governing firearm users, and strict punishments against anyone who uses any gun illegally, whether or not the use was proficient and safe.
- It’s long and expensive to get a gun licence from the federal police.
- All guns are banned for anyone who doesn’t have a licence authorized by the federal police.
- New confiscations and prohibitions affect only federally licensed firearm users.
Focus on Protection
- We focus on guns and ammo for protection — from personal safety and home defence to community safety and national defence, security and sovereignty.
- We believe that every individual, community and country has a natural right to protect itself as best it can against illegitimate and unlawful attack.
- We stand for this as an unassailable ethical principle.
Focus on the Personal
- We focus on how guns benefit and enrich individuals, families, communities and businesses.
- We focus on how restrictions, prohibitions and confiscations hurt and threaten individuals, families, communities and businesses.
Words and Phrases to Avoid, Or Use With Care
Active Shooter. If you’re talking about someone shooting people in a shopping mall or a school, how about: “active attacker.” An active shooter is someone who makes frequent trips to the target range. If we had more time and money, we’d all be active shooters.
Amnesty. An amnesty is when you are forgiven for having committed a crime. When the police invite you to surrender your property and promise to not charge you, it isn’t an amnesty. It’s voluntary surrender.
Assault-Style Weapon, Military-Style Weapon. Avoid these terms. Prefer specific makes, models or functional descriptions.
Assault Rife, Assault Weapon. A translation from the German “Sturmgewehr.” Originally an automatic rifle in a medium calibre. Avoid these terms, which have become politicized and weaponized by firearm prohibitionists.
Buyback. If the government forces you to sell them your guns, it’s not a buyback. First, the government gets its money from you and other taxpayers, so the buying would be done with your money. Second, they can’t buy back something that wasn’t theirs to begin with. It’s confiscation paid for by you.
Crime Gun. If you don’t say “crime car,” “crime fist,” “crime bottle,” “crime rope,” or “crime knife,” then don’t say “crime gun.” It’s a gun. If it was used in crime, be specific: was it stolen, smuggled, illegally purchased? See also “Illegal gun.”
Grandfathering. The government promotes gun confiscation by promising to let you keep their newly prohibited firearms until you die. It’s a lot cleaner and cheaper than taking them from you alive. But confiscating your guns after you die isn’t “grandfathering.” It’s “confiscating your guns after you die.” In addition, “grandfathering” is when your rights and privileges continue after the law changes. In most cases in Canada, this isn’t the case. (For example, you are no longer allowed to move or use the affected item.)
Gun Ban. Avoid in most cases. “Ban” is such a nice, gentle word. It can mean anything. It doesn’t reflect the brutal injustice of mass criminalizations, confiscations, prohibitions, seizures and forced surrender.
Gun Crime. Be specific. You wouldn’t say “fist crime,” “knife crime,” “crowbar crime,” or “van crime,” so why would you say “gun crime”? If you mean a criminal attack with a firearm or bullets, or an illegal shooting, or the unlawful possession of a firearm, say so.
Gun Control. If you mean recoil management or inventory management, fine. If you mean “restrictions on who is allowed to own firearms,” that isn’t gun control, that’s people control.
Gun Violence. This is the go-to phrase of gun prohibitionists. It’s anti-gun propaganda gold and total kryptonite for gun owners. Better to be specific: “murder,” “criminal shooting,” “attack,” “mugging.” We don’t say, “That gun is violent.” We say, “That person is violent.” Violence is a quality that applies to people and actions, not objects. “Gun violence” is wrong in so many ways, but it’s powerful psychologically. If there is one phrase you must never use, this is it. It’s what Scott Adams calls a “linguistic kill shot.” Bottom line: If you ever hear someone use this expression, grab your guns before they do.
High-Capacity Magazine. If your AR-15 magazine can’t hold more than 5 rounds of ammo, it’s broken. A standard-capacity AR-15 mag holds 20 or 30 cartridges. A standard-capacity Glock 17 mag holds 17 rounds. If you have a 60- or 110-round drum, then maybe you can call that a “high-capacity” magazine. Maybe. But for some jobs, that’s standard capacity.
Illegal Gun. Sometimes used as a shortcut for a firearm a criminal imported, obtained, possessed or used illegally. Better to be specific. We don’t want the word “gun” next to anything bad. Also remember that legality has nothing to do with the object, and everything to do with the user. A gun that is illegal for me to have might be perfectly legal for you to have. See also “crime gun” and “gun control.”
Law-Abiding Gun Owner. Using this phrase is degrading, insults the shooting community, and hurts private gun ownership. “To abide” is “to bear patiently,” “to endure without yielding,” or “to accept without objection,” according to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary. You don’t need to qualify yourself or prove anything. Just say “gun owner.”
Non-Restricted. All firearms authorized in Canada are tightly restricted. There’s no such thing as a non-restricted gun. But politicians fabricated laws with three arbitrary classes of firearms, one of which is “Non-restricted.” It’s a label that means the opposite of what it says. All firearms are restricted, some are “Non-restricted” and Joseph Goebbels just peed his pants laughing.
Reform. A loaded term that suggests a policy change in a direction you like. Use with caution.
Unrestricted. All firearms and all firearm owners in Canada are tightly restricted. Some people confuse the misleading legal classification of “Non-restricted” with the adjective “unrestricted.” Don’t. See also “Non-Restricted.”
Violence. Not to avoid, but to be aware: When Bad Guys do it, it’s “violence.” When Good Guys do it, it’s “force.”