Why Mainstream Media Continually Misuses the Phrase, ‘Legally Registered’

(Photo: Gun Watch)

By Dean Weingarten

A phrase commonly found in news articles about self defense with a firearm is “legally registered.”  It is a bizarre phrase, because the requirement to register guns is quite rare in the United States. In an article published on 21 February, 2021, concerning an incident in Pennsylvania, bold added:

“Because if he was getting into my house, I probably would have done the same thing if I had a gun,” neighbor Robert Gonzalez said. “I’m just going to do things a lot safer, look out for myself. Make sure whoever comes, got a look, look at his face, see what’s going on. You know, probably scope him.”

Police say the gun the woman used was legally registered.

Readers of the article would be surprised to know, registration of firearms is illegal in Pennsylvania

§ 6111.4.  Registration of firearms.

Notwithstanding any section of this chapter to the contrary, nothing in this chapter shall be construed to allow any government or law enforcement agency or any agent thereof to create, maintain or operate any registry of firearm ownership within this Commonwealth. For the purposes of this section only, the term “firearm” shall include any weapon that is designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any such weapon.

After 90 years of intense push for gun registration by Progressives, starting with the FDR administration, only two states require registration of all guns. According to the strong proponent of restrictions on gun ownership, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the two states are California and Hawaii. 

New York requires registration of handguns.  

Three more states, (Maryland, New Jersey, and Connecticut), besides California, Hawaii and New York, require registration of very specific firearms such as “assault pistols”, “assault weapons”, and .50 caliber rifles. 

There are nine states which ban the registration of firearms, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Dakota. Federal gun registration (except NFA items) is banned by federal statute.

Other examples of the misuse of the phrase “legally registered” were easily found (bold added). From Missouri, Sept 11, 2020:

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Two men were robbed at gunpoint in south St. Louis with their own gun.

A driver stopped at a gas station on South Grand at Connecticut Street around 12:30 am Friday. A man approached the men in the car and tried to sell them drugs.

When the people in the vehicle refused, the man returned and grabbed their legally registered gun from their car. He robbed them of some cash and took off with their gun. No one was injured.

 No registration of guns is required in Missouri. 

Here is another from Pennsylvania 11 May, 2016:

The legally registered gun was left in the school employee’s car on the center’s parking lot last Tuesday, May 3, officials said.

Later the same day, the employee, whose name has not been released, arranged to have students work on the car as part of one of the school’s training programs, officials said.

At the end of the work day, at approximately 3 p.m., the employee reported to center officials that the gun was missing.

In an article about an assassination attempt on George Zimmerman, in 2015, the phrase was used.

West said Zimmerman had a legally registered gun in his truck but denied he brandished it. He said Apperson could not have seen the gun because Zimmerman has tinted windows.

Zimmerman, who suffered scratches when the bullet pierced his windshield, is cooperating with investigators and credits God with saving his life, West said.

Florida is one of the states where it illegal to register firearms. From the Florida statute:

2. A list, record, or registry of legally owned firearms or law-abiding firearm owners is not a law enforcement tool and can become an instrument for profiling, harassing, or abusing law-abiding citizens based on their choice to own a firearm and exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed under the United States Constitution. Further, such a list, record, or registry has the potential to fall into the wrong hands and become a shopping list for thieves.

Here is another example from Pennsylvannia in, 2015:

Two males were walking on Mitchell Street and Monastery Avenue in Roxborough around 11 p.m. Monday when a 39-year-old male came out of a home and began shooting at them with a rifle.

One of the pedestrians pulled out his legally registered gun and returned fire at the suspect. The suspect then ran back inside the home and barricaded himself inside.

Why is the term “legally registered” frequently and erroneously used in reporting about self defense and firearms?

The purpose appears to be Orwellian. It is to transfer into the reader’s mind the policy desire of the reporter.  

Either consciously or unconsciously, the reporter has been indoctrinated to believe firearms may only be owned with the permission of the state, the permission is temporary and readily removed, and ownership of firearms is a suspicious activity which must be highly regulated. 

In Orwell’s novel, 1984, members of the Party instinctively know what to say to promote ideas accepted by the Party. 

Consider a similar phrase, seldom applied to crime victims (unless to push a particular objective). Consider “unarmed victim”. 

Consider the implications, if each time an unarmed person were victimized during a encounter with a criminal, reporters described the victim as “unarmed”.  

Such reporting, unlike the term “legally registered” would be accurate.

The implication would be: why  was the victim unarmed? The implication would be the victim might have prevented the crime, if they had been armed. 

George Orwell was one of the most successful authors to show how language is used and weaponized by totalitarians. 

One of the primary defenses against such propaganda is to learn and use precise language. 

The term “legally registered” is meant to indoctrinate the population into accepting the registration of firearms as ordinary, well-established, and desirable. So far, the indoctrination has not been successful.

©2021 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Kurt March 16, 2021, 7:54 am

    Any firearm purchased through a FFL or transferred through a FFL is registered. It may only be the FFLs Aquisition & Disposition books, but there is record. Oh don’t forget the state NICS check either. I’m sure that is saved in some database.
    Don’t be so nieve fellow patriots. I think it is safe to say you don’t take a shit any more without “them” knowing…… remember the “smart” water meters they installed in your house a few years back.

  • Shanz March 14, 2021, 2:25 pm

    I believe the laws relating to registration of “assault weapons” in California are new. I’m not aware of anybody who was foolish enough to register theirs. Every rifle I purchased was through FFL where background check, 10 day waiting period the whole process was done.
    Now they say my rifles are illegal assault weapons. Ok.
    Probably already on their list anyway. I know people talk shit about us in California all the time but we are still free Americans. I know I am.

  • Jerel Rachael March 12, 2021, 10:52 pm

    Yes, as Alan said, handguns are registered in PA. The State Police get a fee for this, so they are not willing to give it up.

  • Greg March 12, 2021, 8:30 pm

    This has ben going on for a LONG time. Liberals pretty much OWN the media and people for whatever reason believe what they write. Even the subtle things like “it was legally registered” or the rifle “sprayed” bullets (to imply automatic fire) or slowly using the word automatic in place of semi-automatic, making claims like universal background checks will end the practice of people buying guns over the internet as if the internet sold guns like on Amazon. Combine this with every TV show that pretends the police ALREADY HAVE a list of all gun owners names addresses and serial numbers of the guns they own as well as a scan of he gun’s chamber on file so they can magically match spent brass to a person and an address (lots of magic fairy dust required for that to happen) but non-gun owners believe it’s the norm.
    When I take a new shooter to the range or give a safety lesson and the person intends to buy a gun, almost ALL of them ask how to make sure it’s properly registered. My answer is always “registration is illegal in Colorado, there is no list, and there should not be a list”

    We are not fighting a physical battle, we are fighting a battle of the minds.

    We (gun owners) need to work more on establishing that free citizens should not have to seek the approval of the government to keep and bear arms. 99.999% of gun owners do not use their guns for causing violence.

    The left has a long term plan, and they are working it methodically through the system to ultimately disarm everyone but the elite (regardless of skin color or heritage) Darth Bloomberg is behind much of it with tens of millions in funding going to David Hogg, Shannan Watts, The Giffords groups, etc. It’s not your neighbor (unless they are very gullible) it’s the megalomaniac wealthy that don’t want you to have the ability to impact their lives.

    All we can do now that the elections are over is to contact every representative that disagrees with the 2nd amendment and tell them they will be voted out of office if they attempt to disarm or “infringe” upon inalienable rights, even if they put the word “common sense” in front of nonsense.

  • Big Al 45 March 12, 2021, 3:39 pm

    It’s about INDOCTRINATION to their way of thinking, it’s NOT about media attention or accuracy, and they don’t WANT people to know the “facts”!!
    They want you to think the way they want, to control you.
    They operate in a way that is right out of Goebbels book.

  • Larry March 12, 2021, 12:35 pm

    “Legally owned” would be a much more accurate term.

  • Mark-in-Indy March 12, 2021, 7:48 am

    For the sake of discussion, my premise is that: the media attempts to create attention grabbing content; the media “wastes” valuable time going deeply in to subject matter.
    So, in this context, “legally registered” is a better phrase to use than the more correct phrase “unregistered”. Basically, it just sound better to the uninformed public.

    • deanbob March 12, 2021, 9:20 am

      Mark I agree. And, I’d add a couple of things. Most who are writing these articles have not held a gun nor had a single bit of gun safety training, some even afraid of them (as though an inanimate object will act on its own).
      They have sought and know few facts – esp FBI stats. And lastly, the old news adage “If it bleeds, it leads” – the more gruesome, the more readers there’ll be; or, if online, more clicks!

    • Kane March 12, 2021, 11:51 am

      It seems to me that legally unregistered is even better.

  • Alan March 12, 2021, 7:14 am

    The PA law may state registration is illegal but the state police maintain a registry of all handguns in PA. They were sued to delete it several years ago but the suit failed.

    • Bill Wright March 12, 2021, 8:27 pm

      Good observation Dean. It is also repeated as a blatant error on cop shows.
      Kinda like the bullet fragment/firearm matching magic of the csi folks. E.g. City on a Hill

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