This video is a debate about gun control after mass shootings in Florida. And I don’t understand the meaning of tip in this congressman Carlos Curbelo’s remarks (1:44)

We also have to strengthen the background check because we know there have been failures there, and hold the FBI accountable and make sure that threat assessment teams are paying attention to the tips that they are getting, because this tragedy could have--it seems--could have been prevented had the FBI paid attention to two different tips they receive.

The definition of tip as a noun that I knew was "a useful piece of information, especially about how to do something or about the likely winner of a race or competition" (Cambridge Dictionary), so at first I understood this sentence as “threat assessment teams should pay attention to the useful information(such as list of names of people who’ve committed crimes before) they get" so that they are aware of the potential criminals, and thus take special care of them.

But then, he also says 2 different tips again, and it doesn’t make sense if I understand ‘tip’ here as a definition above. The only things I can guess as 2 tips in this video are "lifting minimum age to 21" and "strengthening background check" because after their conversation the woman also says

OK. It does sound like there are some common grounds here, ...... it seems like there's at least two points here.

So do "tips" and "points" mean the same here? But how can FBI receive("FBI paid attention to 2 different tips they receive.") two tips, which are just policy plan, or bill they are trying to introduce in the future ?

1 Answer 1


No, tip refers to useful information provided to law enforcement in this context (M-W):

1 : information provided to the police or authorities regarding crime

For example, if there was a robbery last night and the police release a description of the suspect, and I see a man that matches the description, I could call them and say something like

I saw a man near 43rd and Main matching the description of the suspect in last night's robbery.

That's a tip. Phone numbers dedicated to such tips are often called tip lines. Returning to the debate, the speaker is saying that if the FBI had paid attention to the two tips (useful pieces of information) the received, then they could have prevented the tragedy. Here is an excerpt from a CNN article regarding a tip on the Parkland school shooter:

The bureau revealed last week that a person close to Cruz contacted the FBI's general tip line in early January to report concerns, including information about his gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts and the potential of him conducting a school shooting.

The two points refers to two items that they're discussing on which the speakers have a common ground. They do not refer to any tips as mentioned above.

  • Thank you so much, it really helped me a lot. But why does the congressman say two different tips specifically, among lots of tips(information about his gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts etc.)? Or these are all one tip as a whole and do I need to search to find out what another tip is? I'm not sure if it's important here but I'm still curious...
    – dbwlsld
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 5:07
  • 1
    I don't know all the details. I don't know what he's specifically referring to. This could be one tip. He might have another (a second) in mind. There might be two that were widely reported, but I don't know.
    – Em.
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 5:11

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