March 27 AP Style update

homicide, murder, manslaughter

Homicide is a legal term for slaying or killing.
Murder is malicious, premeditated homicide. Some states define certain homicides as murder if the killing occurs in the course of armed robbery, rape, etc.
Generally speaking, manslaughter is homicide without malice or premeditation.
A homicide should not be described as murder unless a person has been convicted of that charge.
Do not say that a victim was murdered until someone has been convicted in court. Instead, say that a victim was killed or slain. Do not write that X was charged with murdering Y. Use the formal charge “murder“ and, if not already in the story, specify the nature of the killing, shooting, stabbing, beating, poisoning, drowning, etc.: Jones was charged with murder in the shooting of his girlfriend.

Examples:
An officer pulled over 29-year-old John White, who was arrested and charged with murder, according to Andrew Johnson, the county sheriff’s spokesman.
The 66-year-old amateur photographer has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder for the slaying of four women.
The killings occurred between 1977 and 1979. Prosecutors say Adams raped, tortured and robbed some of them before killing them.
Cook County Sheriff James Jones says a shooting that left one woman dead and a man injured appears to be a murder-suicide.

See execute and assassin, killer, murderer.

weapons
Gun is an acceptable term for any firearm. Note the following definitions and forms in dealing with weapons and ammunition:
anti-aircraft: A cannon or other weapon designed for defense against air attack. The form: a 105 mm anti-aircraft gun.
artillery: A carriage-mounted cannon.

assault rifle, assault weapon
Terms for military or police-style weapons that are shorter than a conventional rifle and technically known as carbines. The precise definitions may vary from one law or jurisdiction to another. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, some make the distinction that assault rifle is a military weapon with a selector switch for firing in either fully automatic or semi-automatic mode from a detachable, 10- to 30-round magazine. Comparatively lightweight and easy to aim, this carbine was designed for tactical operations and is used by some law enforcement agencies. The form: an M16 assault rifle, an AK-47 assault rifle, a Kalashnikov assault rifle. An assault weapon is the civilian version of the military carbine with a similar appearance. This gun is semi-automatic, meaning one shot per trigger pull. Ammunition magazines ranging from 10 to 30 rounds or more allow rapid-fire capability. Other common characteristics include folding stock, muzzle flash suppressor, bayonet mount and pistol grip. Assault weapon sales were largely banned under federal law from 1994 to 2004 to curb gun crimes. The form: AR-15 carbine with military-style appearance.

Examples:
Each soldier carried an M16 assault rifle into combat, facing enemy troops armed with AK-47 assault rifles.
Politicians debated sales restrictions on assault weapons, including military-style AR-15 carbines for gun hobbyists.

automatic
A firearm that reloads automatically after each shot. The term should not be used to describe the rate of fire. To avoid confusion, specify fully automatic or semi-automatic rather than simply automatic. Give the type of weapon or model for clarity.

bolt-action rifle
A manually operated handle on the barrel opens and closes the breech, ejecting a spent round, loading another and cocking the weapon for triggering. Popular for hunting and target-shooting. Example: Remington 700. Some shotguns are bolt-action.

buckshot
See shot.

bullet
The projectile fired by a rifle, pistol or machine gun. Together with metal casing, primer and propellant, it forms a cartridge.

caliber
A measurement of the diameter of the inside of a gun barrel except for most shotguns. Measurement is in either millimeters or decimal fractions of an inch. The word caliber is not used when giving the metric measurement. The forms: a 9 mm pistol, a .22-caliber rifle.

cannon
A weapon, usually supported on some type of carriage, that fires explosive projectiles. The form: a 105 mm cannon. Plural is cannons.

carbine
A short, lightweight rifle, usually having a barrel length of less than 20 inches. The form: an M3 carbine.

cartridge
See bullet.

clip
A device to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit, ready for insertion into the gun. Clips are generally used to load obsolete military rifles. Clip is not the correct term for a detachable magazine commonly used in modern military rifles, assault rifles, assault weapons, submachine guns and semi-automatic pistols. See magazine.

Colt
Named for Samuel Colt, it designates a make of weapon or ammunition developed for Colt handguns. The forms: a Colt .45-caliber revolver, .45 Colt ammunition.

fully automatic
A firearm that fires continuously as long as the trigger is depressed. Examples include machine guns and submachine guns.

gauge
The measure of the size of a shotgun. Gauge is expressed in terms of the number per pound of round lead balls with a diameter equal to the size of the barrel. The bigger the number, the smaller the shotgun.|
The forms: a 12-gauge shotgun, a .410 shotgun. The .410 actually is a caliber, but commonly is called a gauge. The ball leaving the barrel is 0.41″ in diameter.

handgun
A pistol or a revolver.

howitzer
A cannon shorter than a gun of the same caliber employed to fire projectiles at relatively high angles at a target, such as opposing forces behind a ridge. The form: a 105 mm howitzer.

lever-action rifle
A handle on the stock ejects and loads cartridges and cocks the rifle for triggering. A firearm often associated with the Old West. Example: Winchester 94.

M1, M16
These and similar combinations of a letter and figure(s) designate rifles used by the military. The forms: an M1 rifle, an M16 rifle.

machine gun
A fully automatic gun that fires as long as the trigger is depressed and bullets are chambered. Such a weapon is generally so large and heavy that it rests on the ground or a mount. A submachine gun is hand-held. The form: a .50-caliber Browning machine gun.

magazine
The ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a firearm. It may be fixed to the firearm or detachable. It is not a clip.

Magnum
A trademark for a type of high-powered cartridge with a larger case and a larger powder charge than other cartridges of approximately the same caliber. The form: a .357 Magnum, a .44 Magnum.

mortar
Device used to launch a mortar shell; it is the shell, not the mortar, that is fired.

musket
A heavy, large-caliber shoulder firearm fired by means of a matchlock, a wheel lock, a flintlock or a percussion lock. Its ammunition is a musket ball.

pistol
A handgun that can be a single shot or a semi-automatic. Differs from a revolver in that the chamber and barrel are one integral part. Its size is measured in calibers. The form: a .45-caliber pistol.

revolver
A handgun. Differs from a pistol in that cartridges are held in chambers in a cylinder that revolves through the barrel. The form: a .45-caliber revolver.

rifle
A firearm designed or made to be fired from the shoulder and having a rifled bore. It uses bullets or cartridges for ammunition. Its size is measured in calibers. The form: a .22-caliber rifle.

Saturday night special
A compact, relatively inexpensive handgun.

semi-automatic
A firearm that fires only once for each pull of the trigger. It reloads after each shot. The form: a semi-automatic rifle, a semi-automatic weapon, a semi-automatic pistol. The hyphen is an exception to general guidance against hyphenating words formed with semi-.

shell
The word applies to military or naval ammunition and to shotgun ammunition. For small arms, bullet or round is the common term for ammunition.

shot
Small lead or steel pellets fired by shotguns. A shotgun shell usually contains 1 to 2 ounces of shot. Do not use shot interchangeably with buckshot, which refers only to the largest shot sizes.

shotgun
A firearm typically used to fire small spherical pellets called shot. Shotguns usually have a smooth bore barrel, but some contain a rifled barrel, which is used to fire a single projectile. Size is measured according to gauge, except for the .410, which is measured according to caliber, meaning the ball leaving the barrel is 0.41″ in diameter. The form: a 12-gauge shotgun, a .410 shotgun.

submachine gun
A lightweight fully automatic gun firing handgun ammunition.

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