Normies and Fudds

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Matthew Gault, "Here’s Why Men Are Pointing Loaded Guns at Their Dicks", Vice 5/27/2020:

Like with any other fandom, there’s levels to gun culture. In the online gun community there are "normies" and "fudds." Normies cover a range of people, anyone from a basic handgun owner to the completely uninitiated. Fudds—as in Bugs Bunny hunter Elmer Fudd—are the old heads, weirdos, and dedicated gun nuts. Some fudds hate normies and the way normies talk about guns. Even the normies who know their way around a firearm.

A chief complaint among fudds is the normie’s devotion to safety, typically manifested as knee-jerk praise of trigger discipline. For the uninitiated, watching trigger discipline refers to the act of keeping your finger off the trigger of a firearm until you’re ready to fire the weapon. It’s a safety basic, along with never pointing a gun at anyone or anything you don’t intend to harm, and always assuming a gun is loaded.

The OED defines (the familiar word) normie as

A conventional or ordinary person, typically as contrasted with members of a specified group or subculture; spec. an able-bodied person as contrasted with disabled people.

and offers citations back to 1950:

1950 A. Capp in Atlantic May 66/1 The Normies are the lucky and blessed, because while there doesn't have to be anything particularly right about them, there isn't anything particularly wrong.
1973 Washington Post 8 Mar. f9/1 Six Vietnam veterans went [to the National Amputee Ski Championships] from Walter Reed, along with ‘normies’ Jim Redmond and Gary Clark.
1989 Chron.-Telegram (Elyria, Ohio) 13 May a6/2 I feel that all handicapped persons have equal rights as ‘normies’.
1996 N.Y. Rev. Bks. 20 June 28/4 Traditional values were dangerous, and Hunt called those who believed in them ‘Normies’.
2004 S. Rushin Caddie was Reindeer 72 To Patrice Cooper, the left-arm amputee and seven-time Hazeltine club champion.., I was a ‘normie’.
2013 Evening Standard (Nexis) 18 Dec. 33 Unlike you, hipsters don't want any old Christmas kitsch. Tinsel and eggnog are for normies.

I haven't found any dictionary entries for the (unfamiliar) variant normo, used e.g. in the Facebook group "Shit gun normos say", whose About info implies that fudds and normos are actually overlapping groups:

Tired of fudds, gun community normos & boomers posting bullshit? Love those P&S knowledge bombs but hate that cancerous no fun allowed atmosphere? Same

Fudd hasn't made it into the OED, but Wiktionary has it — though again with a meaning opposite to that given in the Vice article:

A gun-owner who supports traditional hunting guns but favors gun control for other guns such as handguns or tactical rifles.

So is this a case of diversity of usage? Or did the Vice article's author get it wrong? This tweet suggests the latter:

One of my own early gun safety experiences took place when I was 14 years old, and a friend pointed his father's pistol at me in fun. I kicked the weapon out of his hand, and when I picked it up, discovered that it was loaded, with a round in the chamber. I showed it to him, and he said, "Gee, I thought it was unloaded, and I was thinking about pulling the trigger to make it go click".


  1. Rose Eneri said,

    May 30, 2020 @ 9:15 am

    From the referenced, original article: "[Negligent discharges] mostly happen when dipshits fail to clear their chamber before disassembly, or when they fail to check their holster before reupholstering."

    I did not know gun safety had anything to do with upholstery.

  2. Philip Taylor said,

    May 30, 2020 @ 11:41 am

    Oh, I don't know — an upholster's staple gun can be a pretty dangerous tool if the appropriate safety precautions are neglected …

  3. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    May 30, 2020 @ 2:50 pm

    Know Your Meme has more historical information about “normie”:

    One of the earliest written uses of the term comes from the book Treating the Alcoholic: A Developmental Model of Recovery by Stephanie Brown, where it is used to describe non-alcoholic individuals.[23] A derivative of the English adjective "normal," the term "normie" first came into colloquial usage in the context of mental health-related discussions sometime in the mid-to-late 1990s, with its earliest known mention dating back to April 1996 on the personal website of James L. Drush, an addiction recovery counselor, in a web page[1] that explains the common characteristics of a "normie."

    Know Your Meme doesn’t have the earlier citations from the OED, but it does have interesting supplemental information.

    Another variation on the word normal is the fashion term normcore. (See )

  4. GeorgeW said,

    May 30, 2020 @ 3:06 pm

    If I were guessing, I would have guessed that 'fudd' was an abbreviated 'fuddy-duddy' and someone who was extra careful about gun safely.

  5. Nat said,

    May 30, 2020 @ 9:28 pm

    But isn’t it typical, in cases of linguistic divergence, for members of one community to judge members of a distinct community to be “incorrect”?

  6. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    May 31, 2020 @ 5:29 pm

    As this story gets flogged through the media, the Guardian article focuses on “normo” instead of “normie”:

    “The uninitiated zero in on dumb shit like [safety] because it’s their entire knowledge base. It’s the only thing they understand,” said the moderator of a Facebook group named Shit Gun Normos Say (normo being a word pejoratively applied to people who stick to rules or norms with fervor).

  7. Michael Watts said,

    June 1, 2020 @ 6:25 am

    Actually, I find it intriguing that the Guardian wants to imply that "normo" derives from the fairly rare word "norm" rather than the very common word "normal". I would bet against that pretty strongly.

  8. Philip Taylor said,

    June 1, 2020 @ 7:53 am

    I would imagine that the Guardian chose to refer to "normos" rather than "normies" because they are keen to target their Australian readership, for whom "-o" would be a fairly standard suffix to indicate abbreviation/foreshortening/truncation.

  9. Eric Eves said,

    June 2, 2020 @ 10:16 am

    Vice has the distinction just about backwards here, yes.

    There are two main categories of gun owner, each of which covers both a particular attitude toward guns, and a set of aesthetics that have their roots in practical matters but are these days about as much about category signifiers. There is a fairly well-developed system of… well, gun semiotics, I suppose, that is used at least partially for in-group signaling.

    As an aside, neither of these are groups of casual gun users. They're different types of folks who are serious about guns.

    There's the fudd. Fudds are, almost definitionally, people who hunt, although a few are more into target shooting. That's where it comes from, Elmer Fudd, the hunter from old Warner Brothers cartoons. It was originally an insult, although these days it's not uncommon for folks to self-apply it. The core idea of a "fudd" is that it's someone who's interested in guns exclusively or almost exclusively for sporting purposes. The main visual signifier of this is guns in non-military styles – bolt-action hunting rifles or shotguns with wood stocks, or occasionally large hunting pistols which will also often have wood grips. If you see wood on a gun, the person holding it is more likely than not a fudd, particularly if it is not a military rifle. To the extent that fudds are political about guns at all, it is mostly just to make sure it remains legal to use guns for sporting purposes. Fudds aren't the ones pointing guns at their crotches, both because they aren't generally part of the 'owning the libs' brand of conservatism, and because doing so would violate rules of gun safety that to the old-school approach of fudds are not only a good idea but have the moral force of holy law. I should note that this is the category I myself belong to, and that colors my descriptions here.

    The other category doesn't have a single consistent name, which might have been what caused Vice's misunderstanding. The word "tactical" is often associated with these folks or at least with the guns they prefer, and if you called someone a tactical gun owner folks would probably know what you meant, but it isn't quite as much of a category label. These are the people who are primarily* interested in guns mainly in terms of self-defense*, either in an everyday concealed carry context or in some sort of hypothetical home defense or even "end of the world as we know it" scenario. They're also a lot more likely to own and display guns as a political symbol. People in this category are much more likely to have extremely strong opinions about the second amendment. This is probably the main source of contention between the two groups – when one feels that the right to bear arms is a key part of personal freedoms, someone who is willing to have increased gun control laws passed as long as they don't affect sporting uses seems like a traitor. The visual signifiers here are military-style weapons and the AR-15 in particular, or else smaller handguns suitable for concealed carry. If you see a gun that is all black, it is more likely than not in the hands of one of these folks. People openly carrying guns as part of a political statement are almost always in this category – you can tell just by looking at the guns 90% or more of those people are carrying.

    These categories aren't 100% rigid. You also see the AR-15 in the hands of people who are mainly interested in hunting, particularly if they previously served in the military and were trained in the use of the M16 or M4 rifles. Some guns, like the 1911 Colt (which is a military gun but also an old-fashioned one) do not strongly signify either group. Both groups do a fair bit of target shooting. But most people who are relatively serious about guns will be one or the other, and will probably have strong opinions about the other group.

    And I want to draw a careful distinction here. Most people in the second category also feel very strongly about gun safety. The vast majority of them would never point guns at themselves either. But the very small percentage of gun owners who would flout the rules of gun safety to make a political point or as a gesture of defiance are significantly more likely to be in the second category than the first one. You can tell this just by looking at which guns they're holding.

    So, the short version is that the distinction to be drawn here is not between casual gun-owners and die-hard ones. It's between two different sorts of die-hard gun-owners.

    *Here, and above in terms of hunting, I'm talking about primary focus. Someone in the fudd category might use a gun for self defense, particularly if they live somewhere very rural where police response times are long, and someone in the tactical category might also hunt. But the way the two types of gun owner think about guns, and the way they select them, will mostly be based on these categories.
    **Although a person who just buys one gun for self-defense but doesn't really think or talk about guns is probably in neither category – again, we're talking here about the people who have Strong Opinions about guns.

  10. Philip Taylor said,

    June 2, 2020 @ 12:16 pm

    The only part I do not understand, Eric, is the term "sporting purposes". Self-defense I understand, but what is "sporting" about using a firearm to kill an innocent (and sometimes defenceless) animal ? I would not call that "sporting", I would call that "murder".

  11. Eric Eves said,

    June 2, 2020 @ 1:19 pm

    As used above, "sporting purposes" means hunting and target shooting.

  12. Andrew Usher said,

    June 3, 2020 @ 7:31 am

    I assume Philip knows that, but is just expressing his virulent anti-hunting stance by denying it could be 'sporting'.

    k_over_hbarc at yahoo dot com

  13. Philip Taylor said,

    June 3, 2020 @ 9:39 am

    I wasn't planning to add to my initial comment, but feel obliged to respond to Andrew. I cannot see how something can be defined as "sporting" when the participants do not compete on an equal and voluntary basis — is that not the very quintessence of sport ? We do not expect paralympians to compete against normally-abled Olympic atheletes, prisoners in chains to compete against warders armed with clubs, etc., so how can an activity in which one side chooses to arm itself with firearms, crossbows or whatever whilst the other has no option but to rely on concealment, agility, or at best teeth, claws or horns, be classed as a sporting activity ?

    If people wish to pit themselves against wildlife, then let them do so on an equal basis, in (say) an escape-proof arena where the "hunter" is armed with nothing more lethal than the natural armament of his (or her) prey. And of course the prey species should be naturally homicidal, not merely harmless herbivores who just happen to possess rather splendid antlers that the hunter sees as a highly desirable trophy. The element of voluntary participation by the prey would still be lacking (which ought really to take precedence over everything else) but at least the hunter would be as likely to be killed as his prey. I could just about force myself to regard that as "sporting".

  14. Rod Johnson said,

    June 3, 2020 @ 11:04 pm

    @Philip Taylor: But, as Geoff would say, this is Language Log, not Gun Discussion Log…

  15. Philip Taylor said,

    June 4, 2020 @ 4:10 am

    Agreed, Rod, which is why I was focussing on the meaning of "sporting" rather than on the ethics of killing living creatures for fun.

  16. Andrew Usher said,

    June 4, 2020 @ 7:31 pm

    In that case, I can criticise, because the meaning of 'sporting' is not necessarily so restricted. 'Sport' one meant roughly the same as out 'fun', and so 'sporting' could theoretically mean anything done for fun. It's true we don't apply it that broadly anymore, but the use of 'sporting' for hunting and fishing seems traditional and established e.g. in 'sporting goods'.

    Even today, 'sport' does not necessarily imply competition, take for example 'the sport of rock-climbing', which is perfectly normal.

  17. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    June 4, 2020 @ 9:02 pm

    Using “sporting” for hunting and target shooting could be regarded as using a “term of art.”

    Merriam-Webster’s online definition provides the example “sporting dogs” (used to retrieve game) but only mentions trapping, not hunting or shooting.

    As Andrew points out, there is a wide range of meaning for the words sport and sporting.

  18. Andreas Johansson said,

    June 5, 2020 @ 1:51 am

    Regarding "normie"/"normo", I seem to recall hearing (or more likely seeing) simply "norm" used in the same sense. Can't find any clear online examples in a hurry, though.

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