The Pledge

Clip or Magazine?

Yes, there is a difference. But is it important that we chastise anyone, especially casual gun users, or worse, non gun owners, for using them interchangeably?

I read several gun forums, and on a lot of them, the quickest way to get the ire of some forum members is to use a word incorrectly. My observation is that the words “magazine” and “clip” seem to be the ones that draw the most ire from gun purists when they are used interchangeably. Yes, they mean different things. But how important is that? Important enough to alienate someone over?

Are we not all on the same side? Should we not be inclusive to shooters who are looking for advice from those who’ve been there before?

When the zombies come, and I’m shoulder to shoulder with another shooter, shooting his AR, and he asks me for a clip, am I really going to rummage around in my Maxpedition bag and pull out an SKS stripper clip of 7.62×39, and toss it to him? Then laugh as the zeds eat his brains?

Be careful, oh ye language snob. If you insist on separating common usage from technical usage, you made find yourself in trouble.

An example: is this snake poisonous?

Now, if you held this up and asked a biologist who was also a “gun forum purist,” you would be told “no.” And you would almost immediately be bitten, and die a painful death.

That’s because the rattlesnake is not poisonous. In fact, I’ve eaten it prepared several ways, and have never suffered any ill effects from eating its meat.

Is it venomous? Oh, hell yes! But venomous is not poisonous. So sorry, you asked the wrong question. Oooo. You might want to put your feet up and call 911.

Now, if someone asks me if a rattlesnake is poisonous, I say yes, unless they have it skinned and breaded and the fryer is hot. In that case, get out the wing sauce, and let’s go.

All this needs to end. We need to act civilly, and be inclusive rather than snooty and exclusive.

To that end, I present The Pledge. It’s an expansion of something I read in the signature line of user ManNamedJed on GlockTalk, and I send him my thanks.

First, let me say, I do not mean ill of anyone who does not take The Pledge. You may choose to act the way you do, it’s a free country, and they are free forums. But, I believe that following The Pledge not only will make us more inviting to new shooters and new forum members, but it will make forums a lot more pleasant to use.

The Pledge

When posting on on-line gun forums, I will never:

1. criticize anyone for using “clip” instead of “magazine”
2. get in a discussion about which caliber is acceptable in a gunfight
3. get in a discussion about whether you should use a Glock grip plug
4. criticize anyone about how often they clean their gun
5. criticize anyone for what cleaner or lubricant they use
6. call a shotgun a shottie
7. call a revolver a wheelgun
8. call Walmart “wally world “
9. post simply “+1”, “well said,” or some similar agreement
10. accuse anyone of kool-aid drinking
11. tell you that your gun or ammo is unsafe* or junk
12. change your words and say I “fixed it for ya”
13. tell you to move to a gun friendly state
14. use profanity

* unless I think it is unsafe in my opinion as a Certified Glock Armorer, in which case I will tell you why I think so, and what I think you should do about it.

If you agree with me, and want to take The Pledge, feel free. I’m going to include that fact in my signature lines on all my forum profiles, with a link to this page.

Then maybe, in time, we can get to the real work of shooting better, preserving our freedoms, and enjoying life.

Edit: On 6/9/2011 I added the phrase “When posting on on-line gun forums” to the beginning of the pledge, lest anyone think I meant to adhere to this in everything.

9 thoughts on “The Pledge

  1. I will always correct someone for using terms incorrectly, and I expect the same of everyone I meet. Whether I do so politely or not is going to depend entirely upon the person I am correcting.


  2. Robert: When it doesn't matter, I will err on the side of civility. As to the last sentence, that may be what spurred my post. On gun forums we know nothing about the person we are correcting, yet some seem to correct with overwhelming force, when it doesn't really matter in the end. When it matters, I will correct, though – if they say breech when they mean muzzle, that's important.Thanks for commenting!


  3. And we should certainly be extra careful with new gunnies that just don't know better. There is value in education, but not in being hung up on semantics.


  4. Fortunately or unfortunately, words have meanings, and diluting those meanings – or allowing those meanings to be diluted – does no one any good. If someone misuses a term, I am going to correct them – the only question is how I am going to correct them. If they appear genuinely uneducated as to the finer points of the vocabulary they are using, I will do my best to do so in a friendly and non-offensive fashion. However, if they are misusing words in a malicious and malignant fashion (for example, the Brady Campaign and "assault weapons"), well, my response may be a mite less… cheerful. I guess it comes from being an engineer and an ex-Naval officer, but if I were to tell someone to hold a line, when I really meant to belay a line, people can die, and folks have died in the past (not on my watch, thank God). Sure, there are situations where ambiguity can be overlooked – the two you mention are perfect ones – but without clearly defined meanings for words, the message can be lost.


  5. Linoge:I hope no one thinks I am advocating ignoring errors in usage in all things. I'm only talking about in posts on on-line gun forums. And be sure, if I see something I think is unsafe on a forum, I will talk about it.I am an engineer, too, and one reason I enumerated the Pledge was to show the things I'm willing to ignore on forums in the name of promoting the craft.


  6. To me the difference is the same thing as referring to the carburetor as the fuel injectors. They both serve the exact same function, but they are not the same things. I won't make fun of someone for mixing the phrases, but I will correct them civilly. A teacher in a school setting corrects their students, but unless they are a crappy teacher, will do it civilly. I was taught that you do it right and that's the only way you do it. I feel that when working with firearms, which can take a life, there's little room for error and if I can correct someone (again, civilly), then I think I should as not doing so would be doing a great disservice to my fellow shooters.There's a difference between snobbery and proper teaching. "Don't be a fool. It's a damned magazine." or "Idiot. Garands don't use magazines…" are unacceptable no matter who you are. "I just need to make a correction. Make sure you use the right part for the gun. The Media has everybody thinking they're the same part, but they're different and the parts aren't interchangeable." THAT is a civil way of correcting a person and it's about on par with what I say when that happens. If someone wants to be a snob back by calling me an idiot for differentiating, then I go by: "It is better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." and I will let the person fall on their own sword.


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