Hannes, you’re not alone. The phrasing felt weird to me when I first read it too.
Abe assassinated: shotgun blasts from behind
assassinated BY s.t. describes the agent who carried out the assassination, not the weapon.
Assassinated WITH a gun is more clear that the gun was the weapon but has no description about the person (other than the implicit meaning that they were an assassin, as carried wrapped up in the word Assassination).
‘Gunshot’ seems more singular to me, either one blast, or even more precisely, a single bullet (a solid round from a handgun or rifle, not a bunch of pellets from a shotgun). There were two shots, one from 10 m away and a little high, and the next from 3 m away and more on target.
‘Killed by a gunshot’ is less descriptive of the style and motive of the attack, nor does it carry the sense that ‘assassination’ has, as a term used for the killing of a person of status and import.
Apologies for any macabre implications, they are not the focus of this discussion of language.
Nothing incorrect or non-idiomatic about this. “By” plus noun without article is here equivalent to “by means of.”
Assassinated by (means of) gunshot (by an/the assassin). Executed by (means of) electric chair (by the executioner).
It’s clearly non-idiomatic, at least for some of us. The problem is with using “gunshot” in this way, not the “by” plus noun. My first thought with the word “gunshot” would be either the sound or the action/process, not the projectile (although that also seems to be a valid use, if a bit archaic).
There seem to be around 39 genuine hits on Google as well, some of which are from here - it isn’t a standard construction at all.
I’d just remove the “by gunshot” entirely, and if it was necessary to mention the method of assassination, I’d rephrase it, e.g., to “Shinzo Abe fatally shot”.
I don’t see a problem with it. It seems to be a slightly pedantic way of saying “assassinated by [means of a] gunshot”. The aim of the phrasing (IMO) is to preserve the passive voice, which in turn invokes the “innocent until proven guilty” theme of Western justice. Who fired the gun? We’re not 100% sure. But a gunshot was involved. And it was a gunshot; he wasn’t bludgeoned to death with a gun.
It’s probably a bit superfluous since the guy was caught in the act, he obviously fired a gun, and admitted to having reasons.
EDIT: oops, I see jinyu said pretty much the same thing.
You’ve certainly upped the pedantry stakes there, but I can’t disagree!
EDIT: Can I propose that Forumosa needs a “pedantry corner”, in the mould of Private Eye’s column (originally named, following various pedantic arguments, pedant’s corner, pedants’ corner, and ped’ants corner)?
A “pseud’s corner” would be great too, although I suspect I’ll get sent there with depressing frequency.
I don’t see why the use of “gunshot” is a problem here either. The OED, for instance, defines “gunshot” as “a shot from a gun.” Abe assassinated by (means of) gunshot (a shot from a gun). There’s nothing archaic about using gunshot to refer to the fact of bullets striking something/ someone rather than the sound. OED, for instance, defines “gunshot wound” as “a wound made by a bullet from a gun.” Abe died of gunshot wounds.