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Second Amendment: Overview

The Bill of Rights: Amendment II

Major Types of Firearms

Handguns: a firearm (as a revolver or pistol) designed to be held and fired with one hand (Merriam-Webster)

  • Revolvers: There are two types of revolvers. The first type is a “single action” revolver which requires re-cocking the hammer after the weapon is fired. The second type is a “double action” revolver where the hammer is automatically re-cocked when the trigger is pulled. A revolver uses a cylinder to retain the cartridges (rounds) in a chamber and is rotated to align the next chamber with a round to be fired with the barrel by the cocking the hammer in a “single action” or by pulling the trigger for a “double action.” If there is misalignment between the chamber and the hammer catastrophic consequences could occur. Many revolvers’ cylinders have a capacity of 6 rounds and these type of weapons have gained the name “Six-Shooters.”

  • Semi-Automatic: Fires one round of ammunition per each pull of the trigger. The action of firing the round re-cocks the weapons and makes it ready for firing upon another pull of the trigger.

  • Fully Automatic: Fires more than one round of ammunition per each pull of the trigger. The action of firing the round re-cocks the weapons and fires the next round as long as the trigger stays depressed with one exception of a select fire weapon. Typically automatic weapons come in two forms: select fire and fully automatic. Select fire allows a predetermined number of rounds to be fired upon a single pull of the trigger. Fully automatic fire allows all the rounds in the magazine to be fired on a single trigger pull.

Rifles: a shoulder weapon with a rifled bore (Merriam-Webster)

  • Bolt Action: The rifle fires one round of ammunition per a pull of the trigger. After the round is fired, the shooter manually operates the bolt by unlocking the bolt using the attached handled and typically moving the bolt to the rear thereby opening the breech while automatically removing and ejecting the spent casing. Once the spent casing is removed, the rifle is ready to be reloaded. This can be done in a couple of ways. First, the shooter can hand insert a round into the breach and close and lock the bolt wherein the firing pin is cocked (this can occur during the opening or closing of the bolt depending on the rifle design) and the rifle is readied for firing. Secondly, if the rifle has a magazine, a new round is placed in the breech by the magazine upon the movement of the bolt to the rear and the ejection of the casing. The round is then loaded into the chamber by closing and locking the bolt wherein the firing pin is cocked (which can occur during the opening or closing of the bolt depending on the rifle design) and the rifle is readied for firing. Bolt action rifles can have detachable and non-detachable magazines where the detachable magazines have varying round capacity and the non-detachable magazines typically hold 5 rounds. (Information from Washington State Hunter Education study guide

  • Pump Action: Pump-action rifles are sometimes called “slide-action” firearms, which require the shooter to slide or “pump” the fore end back and forth to work this type of action. The gun fires one round of ammunition per a pull of the trigger. After the round is fired, the shooter opens the action by sliding the fore end back toward the trigger guard and rear stop while automatically removing and ejecting the spent casing. After reaching the rear stop, to close the action the shooter then slides the fore end forward away from the trigger guard to the forward stop while loading another round in the chamber from a tubular or standard magazine. During the pump action, the rifle is cocked and readied for firing. (Information from the Washington State Hunter Education study guide

  • Lever-Action: The rifle fires one round of ammunition per a pull of the trigger. After the round is fired, the shooter pulls the lever action down away from the stock and forward until it stops thus removing and ejecting the spent casing. To close the action, the shooter then pulls the lever back up toward the stock where the lever moves a cartridge from the magazine into the chamber while cocking and readying the rifle for firing. Most lever action rifles have tubular magazines but some do have standard box magazines. (Information from the Washington State Hunter Education study guide

  • Semi-Automatic: Fires one round of ammunition per each pull of the trigger. The action of firing the round re-cocks the weapons and makes it ready for firing upon another pull of the trigger. (Information from the Washington State Hunter Education study guide

  • Fully Automatic: The rifle fires more than one round of ammunition per each pull of the trigger. The action of firing the round re-cocks the weapons and fires the next round as long as the trigger stays depressed with one exception of a select fire weapon. Typically automatic weapons come in two forms: select fire and fully automatic. Select fire allows a predetermined number of rounds to be fired upon a single pull of the trigger. Fully automatic fire allows all the rounds in the magazine to be fired on a single trigger pull. Most military weapons (i.e. assault rifles) are fully automatic

Shotguns:a smoothbore shoulder weapon for firing shot at short ranges. Shotgun Shells typically come in two types, standard shot and slugs. Standard Shotgun shells are filled with round metal (lead or steel) pellets varying in size.

  • Bolt Action: The shotgun fires one round of ammunition per a pull of the trigger. After the round is fired, the shooter manually operates the bolt by unlocking the bolt using the attached handled and typically moving the bolt to the rear thereby opening the breech while automatically removing and ejecting the spent casing. Once the spent casing is removed, the shotgun is ready to be reloaded. This can be done in a couple of ways. First, the shooter can hand insert a round into the breach and close and lock the bolt wherein the firing pin is cocked (this can occur during the opening or closing of the bolt depending on the shotgun design) and the shotgun is readied for firing. Secondly, if the shotgun has a magazine, a new round is placed in the breech by the magazine upon the movement of the bolt to the rear and the ejection of the casing. The round is then loaded into the chamber by closing and locking the bolt wherein the firing pin is cocked (which can occur during the opening or closing of the bolt depending on the shotgun design) and the rifle is readied for firing. Bolt action shotguns can have detachable and non-detachable magazines where the detachable magazines have varying round capacity and the non-detachable magazines typically hold 5 rounds. (Information from Washington State Hunter Education study guide

  • Break (or Hinge) Action: This shotgun fires one round of ammunition per a pull of the trigger. There are two types of break-action shotguns, a single-barreled and a double-barreled shotgun. The double-barreled shotgun is further distinguished by model where the barrels sit side-by side (i.e. a “coach gun” used by the armed guard riding on a stagecoach and this is where the phrase “riding shotgun” arose) or one on top of the other, known as an “over-under.” In the case of a double barrel shotgun, there are two triggers placed in tandem whereby the shooter can pull one or both triggers at the same time. After the round is fired, the shooter manually pushes the release lever to one side, which allows the user to break open the shotgun which automatically ejects the spent casing. Next another round is then loaded into the chamber wherein the shotgun is closed cocking the firing pin and readying the shotgun for firing. (Information from Washington State Hunter Education study guide

  • Pump Action: Pump-action shotguns are sometimes called “slide-action” firearms, which require the shooter to slide or “pump” the fore end back and forth to work this type of action. The gun fires one round of ammunition per a pull of the trigger. After the round is fired, the shooter opens the action by sliding the fore end back toward the trigger guard and rear stop while automatically removing and ejecting the spent casing. After reaching the rear stop, to close the action the shooter then slides the fore end forward away from the trigger guard to the forward stop while loading another round in the chamber from a tubular or standard magazine. During the pump action, the rifle is cocked and readied for firing. (Information from Washington State Hunter Education study guide

  • Lever-Action: The shotgun fires one round of ammunition per a pull of the trigger. After the round is fired, the shooter pulls the lever action down away from the stock and forward until it stops thus removing and ejecting the spent casing. To close the action, the shooter then pulls the lever back up toward the stock where the lever moves a cartridge from the magazine into the chamber while cocking and readying the shotgun for firing. Most lever action shotguns have tubular magazines but a few do have standard box magazines. (Modified information from the Washington State Hunter Education study guide.

  • Semi-Automatic: Fires one round of ammunition per each pull of the trigger. The action of firing the round re-cocks the weapons and makes it ready for firing upon another pull of the trigger. (Information from the Washington State Hunter Education study guide.

  • Fully Automatic: Fires more than one round of ammunition per each pull of the trigger. The action of firing the round re-cocks the weapons and fires the next round as long as the trigger stays depressed with one exception of a select fire weapon. Typically automatic weapons come in two forms: select fire and fully automatic. Select fire allows a predetermined number of rounds to be fired upon a single pull of the trigger. Fully automatic fire allows all the rounds in the magazine to be fired on a single trigger pull. Most military weapons (i.e. assault shotguns) are fully automatic.

Firearm Ammunition

Firearm Ammunition: Ammunition used for handguns, rifles, and shotguns have many of the same characteristics. See Figure 1.

Types of Firearm Ammunition: Shotgun, Rifle, and Handgun

Figure 1 (Information from anarchangel.blogspot.com.)

As seen in Figure 2, the bullet comprise of five parts: (1) the bullet, (2) casing, (3) powder, (4) rim and (5) primer. The bullet (1) comes in many forms depending on the intended use and the type of firearm.

Bullet

Figure 2 (Information from Steven Van Wettere)

For a pistol or a rifle, the bullet comes in many forms from the simple plinking or target practice to hunting and self-defense. Bullets come in many shapes and sizes such as: lead, jacketed (full metal jacket, hollow point bullet), blanks, less than lethal (rubber bullets, plastic bullets, and beanbags), incendiary, exploding, tracer, armor piercing, or frangible. The size of the bullet that the gun uses is referred to by its caliber or gauge for a shotgun. A sample of both the types and the different calibers for handguns and rifles can be seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3 (Information from the internet 4bp.blogspot)

Shotgun ammunition is divided into two basic types, shot or slugs. See Figure 4. The slug is similar to a round used by a rifle or handgun in that it is a single bullet and has rifling to make it more accurate but typically larger, depending the gauge of the shotgun. Shot on the other hand, comes in varying sizes from a single ball typically made of lead, steel, or tungsten. The shot size typically ranges from #9 birdshot to #000(triple-aught) buckshot. Size of the shot is typically determined by how many pellets can be placed inside the shell.


Shotgun Shell Type

Figure 4 Standard Shot and a Slug (Information from anarchangel.blogspot.com)

For example #000 typically contains 6 pellets per ounce and #9 contains 585 pellets per ounce. Shotgun shells specify the gauge (i.e caliber) the length of the shell, the amount of powder, the amount of shot and the size of shot.

Shotguns Lengths

Figure 5 Shotgun Lengths (Information from Washington State Hunter Education study guide).

The varying lengths of the shells as depicted in figure 5 allow for varying amounts of shot and powder. Theses increased lengths allow a hunter to hunt at increased ranges or increase the probability of a lethal hit at normal ranges by the increased shot density.

Subject Guide

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