You will tell me that it is not the worst problem either in the media or in our societies, and I will agree. Although it may relate to more serious issues or inspire investigation into the economy of language, you can consider this article as a light. mid summer piece. Reporting on a murder mystery, the the wall street journal written, speaking of a deputy sheriff (“A hiker died with a bullet to his chest. Why did the police say he was stabbed with a stick?” July 12, 2023):
He saw no bullet wounds in the pup and after searching the area for 25 minutes, he found no shell casings.
As the title of the story says, not only was the pup put down, but so was its master. Here I focus on confusing terminology.
The Deputy Sheriff would not look for “casings” unless he had already seen a wound or wounds typical of a shotgun blast. Only shotgun cartridges have “cartridges”, because the entire cartridge is called a “shell”. A pistol or rifle typically fires a single propelled bullet from the end of a metal (usually brass) “case” or simply a “case” containing the powder; together, the bullet and the case are called a “cartridge”. A shotgun cartridge case, mostly made of plastic, holds a large number of pellets on top of the powder. True, there is the exception of shotgun shells which only contain a single “bullet” commonly referred to as a “slug”. The other exception is revolver cartridges, designed for snakes and unlikely to kill a dog or a man. It would be surprising if the deputy sheriff casually mentioned “shell casings” when he was looking for all kinds of casings.
If the deputy sheriff really said he was looking for ‘shell casings’, that would suggest he wasn’t exactly on top of his job, as confirmed by his failure to identify a gunshot wound on the dead hiker. . By definition, of course, murder mysteries raise many questions.
That being said, the journalist may not be allowed to remain unscathed. The ignorance of gun basics (it’s not rocket science) seems to be systemic in the media and, alas, not just in the European or Canadian media – where we shouldn’t be too surprised to find that they don’t can’t tell a gun from a broomstick. I guess ordinary individuals, as opposed to state officials or their war conscripts, shouldn’t know about these things. In a previous EconLog article on a related topic, I wrote:
Maybe it should be a condition of the job, even in America unfortunately, that journalists and their editors own and shoot guns.