Media spin: defining "sniper rifle" down

What is a “sniper rifle” to you? When the term strikes my ear, I get a very distinct mental image of something like this:


I see a thick-barreled rifle, camouflage painted in matte greens and browns, perhaps loosely wrapped in jute to break up it’s outline. The gaping maw of a scope’s sunshade lurks above, keeping the telltale glint off the objective lens that might give away the shooter’s position to his target hundreds of yards away.


Because of the skills and fieldcraft involved, “sniper” means something to me, and it makes an impact when I read a story that starts out like this.

Man gets life in Volusia County sniper rifle murder

It’s was an emotional day in Volusia County where a man was sentenced to life in prison for shooting and killing a 24-year-old mother.

Willie Poindexter was sentenced for shooting Katie Burson in the head with a sniper rifle in 2011.

The thing is, a little research into the story tells us that that the “sniper rifle,” isn’t:

Poindexter, a former bouncer at the Coliseum nightclub on Beach Street, was accused of killing Burson and injuring her friend Lashanna Bates early Aug. 11, 2011. The two were shot shortly after 4 a.m. in front of a cluster of one-story apartments on Keech Street.

Prosecutors said Poindexter fired a .22-caliber assault-type rifle equipped with a green laser 13 times at a group of people that included Burson and Bates, both 24.


It’s a war of semantics, folks. Those that get to define the terms have the advantage in the rhetorical battle.

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