Gun Laws & Legislation

Chicago Tribune confuses rifle sling loop with grenade launcher

Mike Piccione
Editor, Guns & Gear

We see the media using the wrong terms constantly when discussing guns. “Clip” is used for magazine. “Automatic weapon” and “weapons of war” are two phrases used to describe a semi-automatic .223. Anything that has a pistol grip is called an assault weapon. People that have no idea of what they are talking about are doing a lot of talking. It’s frustrating.

Recently the Chicago Tribune published whopper of a terminology blunder. In an effort to describe the characteristics of an assault rifle they described a sling loop as a “Mount for bayonet, grenade launcher.”

Yesterday in an article entitled “More detail on assault weapon graphic correction” Joe Knowles writes, “That’s the thing about errors – making an obvious one, as we did here, automatically raises questions about our credibility.” Gee Joe, ya think?

The original article was entitled “Just what is an ‘Assault Weapon’?”, contains a graphic of an AR type rifle with specific areas of the rifle highlighted in blue to illustrate the features of the gun that put the “assault” in assault rifle.

One area highlighted in blue, and circled for extra emphasis, is described as “Mount for bayonet, grenade launcher” when it is actually a small steel loop designed to hold a sling. The printed description of the sling loop was “A bayonet mount allows a daggerlike blade to be attached to the end of the rifle. It doesn’t change the function of the rifle, but can add an intimidating presence and allows the weapon to be used as a spear. A grenade launcher can also be attached, though possession of grenades has been banned by the federal government for decades.”

The readers called out the mistake and Mr. Knowles acknowledged them by saying “Readers count on us to get everything right, every time. When we don’t, we deserve to get called out. That’s fair.”

Is this a reflection of a biased against this type of gun? No, it isn’t  according to Knowles, “Here’s what isn’t fair, though: Some readers seized this opportunity to accuse us of using this graphic to promote what they termed a specific liberal agenda on the topic of gun control. They saw our labeling mistake as a deliberate misrepresentation, one that made these weapons seem more dangerous. Let me say emphatically that this was a careless mistake, not an intentional deception nor bias. It is regrettable because we got a basic fact wrong, period.”

What is regrettable is that no one at the Chicago Tribune understands firearms enough to report upon them correctly.