Wanna Talk Gunsmack? OK, Shoot : The Protojournalist The gun debate is a sensitive subject in America, so why do we talk about guns all the time?
NPR logo Wanna Talk Gunsmack? OK, Shoot

Wanna Talk Gunsmack? OK, Shoot

Handgun on flag.

For a nation dealing with serious and tragic firearms issues — trying to balance personal rights with potential lethality — we use guns an awful lot. Metaphorically speaking. Football teams employ pistol formations and shotgun offenses. California proposes a bullet train. Uberinvestor Carl Icahn figuratively "fired both barrels" at another investor, "saying he doesn't 'like' him or 'respect' him," the New York Post reports. What does such violent language say about our culture? "Guns — I don't see why anyone who lives in a city needs them," says Swarthmore College linguist Donna Jo Napoli. "Metaphors — everyone needs them. They open our world to the sky. Let's all get drunk on sky — which is a quote, of sorts."