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March 9, 2020

Talking About Firearm Ownership: NSSF Research Shows Words Matter


Whether it’s “assault rifle” versus “modern sporting rifle,” “firearm buyback” versus “firearm confiscation” or “trophy hunting” versus “legal, regulated hunting”, the way the topics of firearm ownership and hunting are communicated to the public matters.

Not too long ago, hunters considered every animal harvested to be a trophy, as they understood the effort it took to be successful in that harvest and the pride felt in being able to provide healthy, sustainable, organic protein for their families. Today, the term “trophy hunting” is used with a negative connotation by anti-hunting groups, many deploying the term to shame hunters. (Additional information on research conducted on the topic of hunting can be found here.)

After reviewing the findings from the hunting-related research, NSSF conducted similar research on how words matter when discussing firearm ownership with the general public. That research examined the effectiveness of arguments in support of and against the personal ownership of firearms, with nearly 50 messages tested. The report, Communicating with the American Public about Firearm Ownership, breaks down how the messages were received by different segments of the U.S. population. NSSF has made this report available exclusively and free of cost to active NSSF members, who can access it after logging into the NSSF member portal.