When it comes to guns, we often seem not to want to talk in definitive language, unless we're taking a shot (as it were) at the other side.
There is, for example, the classic old quote (a pre-meme meme) by gun backers: "Gun control means using both hands," sometimes expressed as, "I'm all for gun control: I use both hands."
That tactic is still out there but it doesn't get so much usage these days. It's not hard to figure out why. Once a term used often by gun-regulation advocates (maybe we can call them that here for present purposes), "gun control" has since been adopted more by anti-regulation forces, such as many National Rifle Association members.
In early 2019, the Washington state legislature, like several others, was considering new gun regulation legislation. Advocates of those measures didn't refer to them as "gun control." Instead, they referred to them as "gun safety" measures.
To which one Republican (and anti-regulatory) legislator replied, "It's not gun safety it's gun control."
That more or less unveiled the situation. To the Democratic bill proponents, the bill was a safety measure. (How effective it might be as a safety measure could of course be a matter of debate.) But it also meant to control some aspect of gun ownership or use; loosely at least, you reasonably could call it gun control. Depending, of course, on what you mean by control. Both terms could apply.
The shifts in emphasis represent more awareness of PR than of anything else: Both sides have seized on to what is the most appealing aspect of their side of the argument: "safety for the pro-regulators" as against "control" for the anti-regulators. Both sides have reached a public relations rationality.
that also means, unfortunately, that both sides now likely are destined to start talking past each other, neither side hearing or understanding what the other says.
For a clear real-world demonstration of this in another context, see: abortion, "pro-life" v. "pro-choice."
(image/Guardian Safe and Vault)