police firearms

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by mathman, Oct 8, 2021.

  1. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    On TV shows police carry guns, not pistols, seldom firearms. Pistol comes up as pistol whipping. How did this usage come about?
     
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    It's taking me time to unpack the unspoken assumptions and category errors of that.

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    I rewrote this about six times.

    Semi-automatics are a subset of pistols.
    Pistols are a subset of guns.
    Guns are a subset of firearms.

    And, I think the key to your confusion here is that semi-automatic handguns are classed as pistols.

    Police carry pistols.
    'Pistol whipping' is the act of whipping someone with a pistol- to-wit: using it as a blunt weapon.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2021
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  5. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    My point was that when police are talking (on TV shows), gun seems to be the preferred term, not pistol.
     
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  7. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes. But gun is a much broader term that includes howitzers and machine guns. You can't really howitzer-whip someone.

    The thing you generally whip someone with is a single-handed weapon - i.e. any kind of pistol - including flintlocks, revolvers and semi-automatics.

    The thing to do might be to draw a Venn Diagram, showing semi-automatics as a subset of pistols, pistols as a subset of guns and guns as a subset of firearms.

    The set of guns that you can whip someone with is essentially the same set as 'pistols'. Thus, pistol-whipping.


    Also, I'm pretty darned sure that pistol-whipping greatly predates modern semi-automatics, as it was quite popular with the revolver crowd of yore.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2021
  8. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    My original point was not about pistol whipping, but rather general conversation. Example: being suspended _ captain will say "Give me your gun and shield."
     
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I'm sorry; I'm not sure what your original point was. I just answered the question you asked.
     
  10. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Right. People often use different words to refer to the same thing. For example "car" "automobile" "wheels" "vehicle" and "ride" might all refer to the thing that someone is driving.

    That doesn't seem all that noteworthy.
     
  11. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    e.g. Wyatt Earp - he was known for "buffaloing" his adversaries with a heavy revolver instead of shooting them. Even earlier, in the days of single-shot flintlock, etc. pistols, it was used as a club after it was empty.
     
  12. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    In the military, a howitzer would be a "gun", a rifle would be a "weapon" and a pistol would be a "sidearm". (And this I know from TV shows.)

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  13. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    I played poker with a police officer in chicago. He carried 3 revolvers, his police issued .38 under one shoulder, a 357 magnum under the other, and a small boot revolver---(?) maybe a .32.
    Here in Iowa, I was visited by 2 sheriff's deputies, one had a sig sauer 9mm semiautomatic pistol and(I didn't notice the other's weapon.
    Later, I was visited by the game warden, tall woman, who had a sig sauer 9mm holstered on her belt.
    Later, I read that game wardens were issued m16 rifles which could fire on full auto.
    So, when I saw her in the grocery store, I asked her why the m16---and she said that the wardens were occasionally called upon to back up the police.

    I seriously hope that she never needs the assault rifle in the performance of her duties.

    seems like a lot of firepower
    is someone in charge paranoid?
     
  14. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    And still you got it wrong.

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    Not quite: semi-automatic pistols are a subset of pistols, whereas semi-automatic revolvers are, unsurprisingly, a subset of revolvers.
    Almost right... pistols are a subset of gun, as are firearms. Pistols and firearms have significant overlap (most pistols in circulation are firearms) but you can also have air-pistols and other types, which are not firearms. Firearms need to use gunpowder, or similar explosive powder.
    Except those that aren't, of course.

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    Not all - although maybe they do where you're from? In the UK the typical police officer doesn't carry anything!
    If talking the US, some will carry revolvers. I'm not sure how they get to choose, or whether they are even allowed to in some places, but for sure you will have some police carrying pistols, some carrying revolvers, and some might well carry both (small revolver as a back-up, for example).

    The captain is simply ensuring he is covering all possibilities. "Gun" is the broadest term for the typical projectile weapon. If he had said "give me your pistol" then would the officer need to hand over his revolver, if that was his weapon?


    To get boring for a moment...

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    ... as I understand the words:
    • A weapon is an implement designed to cause damage / harm to another person - from guns to clubs to swords to bolas etc.
    • Guns are a subset of weapon, specifically ones that expel projectiles through a tube. This would include large-calibre weapons such as cannons, and artillery, as well as things like rail-guns etc.
    • A firearm is a subset of gun, specifically one that uses gunpowder (or other explosive powder these days) as the means of expulsion, but guns can also use compressed air, springs, etc. So all firearms are guns, but not all guns are firearms
    • Handguns would be a gun designed for use in one hand, rather than two, such as a pistol or revolver (the difference between them being how the round is loaded). The cause of the propulsive force of the handgun would determine whether it was technically a firearm or not, as it could be a small air-pistol. In common parlance, though, I'd think handguns are generally assumed to be firearms unless otherwise informed.
    • A side-arm is any weapon that is held close to the body in a holster, sheath etc, designed for quick access... so would include knives, batons if so stored, etc, and not just guns.
    • A rifle is any gun that is designed to be fired from the shoulder that uses a rifled bore - i.e. the barrel is designed to spin the bullet, giving it greater stability as it travels toward its target, and thus greater accuracy. But again, it need not be a firearm (e.g. air rifle).
    Don't ask me to draw a Venn diagram, though, as you may need a 3-D one by the time you get to side-arm.

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  15. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Sure. What Sarkus said.
     
  16. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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  17. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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