Firearms can be classified into four basic types: handguns, rifles, shotguns, and fully automatic firearms. Handguns are designed to be fired with one hand and have a relatively short barrel compared to rifles and shotguns.

Straight back recoil is the most important element in handheld small-arms design; shot to shot, straight back recoil makes it possible for a soldier to keep a firearm on target during semi-automatic or fully automatic fire.

Good examples of handguns are the M45A1 and the M9. Truly, we could go much deeper and much broader if we were to talk about every sort of handgun that’s ever existed with any significant issue, but we could write a whole book about the history of numerous handguns.

Firearms are a very wide range of weapons that can propel either solid objects or energy particles such as a bullet. They were first invented sometime after around 1250 A.D. and still serve basically the same purposes today that they did then. The various forms of guns—handguns, rifles, and shotguns—fulfill the different needs of their users.

Whether they’re used by individuals for personal protection, by the police as a means of enforcing the law, by hunters to put food on the table, or as a tool for competitive shooters, guns are a part of the American fabric. The creators of the U.S. Constitution enshrined the individual’s right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment for a reason.

Different types of guns

Guns are grouped into classes based on how big they are, how they work, and how they fire. We’d normally think of a weapon as large or small, but the category also concerns us because it gathers together guns that work in about the same way—up to a point. A kind of catchall phrase we sometimes see is that guns are “militarized” or “not militarized.”

The vaguely involved thought here is that handguns aren’t really that much like, say, muskets. Yet the category is useful, and declaring that war is war isn’t likely to change much. In this Unpacked scenario, we’re not going to cover muskets and cannons. That can all go in a cabinet at Colonial Williamsburg, largely beyond harm’s reach.

Guns Impact on Culture and Law

Firearms hold an important place in several cultures and large parts of the population are staunch advocates for the right to bear them. Nowhere is this truer than in the United States, where the constitutional amendment that affirms this right is celebrated by its supporters as uniquely American.

But even though this is so, the regulation and control of firearms remain very much in dispute, with the rules of this dicey debate still mostly unfixed.

Heckler & Koch’s HK 121
Military Guns

Heckler & Koch’s HK 121

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Para 1911 Black Ops Limited

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State of Guns