Educate the Educatable

17 04 2007

I know everyone is watching the blog world today, as am I. I keep seeing a common thread that I feel is a misconception.

It’s not a popular area today, but it’s about handguns.

Most handguns are semiautomatic. I know it’s a big, scary word but it isn’t really. Consider a handgun for what it is for a moment and not what it’s used for. It’s a fairly simple machine. The trigger pulls back a hammer which strikes a load of gunpowder, causing the bullet to exit the barrel.

It’s much like a car. To oversimplify things, in an automobile engine, a piston compresses an air/gas mixture into a chamber where a spark plug ignites the small explosion, causing the piston to rise again. Pistons are paired so that one rising forces the other down, causing the compression. You see where I’m going with this?

Ok, here’s the difference between semi-auto and automatic firing.

In a handgun, part of the safety feature of a semi-auto is to make the first trigger pull extremely hard. This is so that if a target shooter is lining up his aim with his finger resting on the trigger, the gun won’t accidentally go off. You have to mean to pull the trigger to fire a semi-auto the first time. My dad likes to say “squeeze” the trigger – he means that if you pull it instead of squeezing it, you screw up your shot.

The only way to reduce the first shot trigger-pull (other than mechanically altering the gun) is to pull back the hammer. I find that most of the time when I target shoot, I have to pull back the hammer. Carpal tunnel, y’know?

After the first shot, the gun allows the remaining loads to be fired with about half the trigger pull of the first shot. You still have to pull the trigger every single time you fire the gun. It takes about 10 seconds to fire a 9 round magazine.

Also, for a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, you must insert the magazine into the handle of the gun, pull back the slide to chamber the first round, turn off the safety, and then fire the first shot. It is not a gun you can drop and have it go off (although please know that you should not drop a gun – if it is improperly loaded, is crappily made, or hits right on the hammer, it may fire.) I can fire a 9mm if I really want to, but it’s not my handgun of choice when target shooting. I have tiny kid hands and it’s hard for me to grasp the slide and to manage the recoil.

Fully automatic weapons, on the other hand, scare me and are illegal in many places. A fully auto gun has to have the trigger pulled and held to fire all of the rounds. Most weapons need to be altered to cause them to be automatic and the trigger pull is sometimes altered as well, turning it into a ‘hair trigger’ weapon. It can take less than a few seconds to empty a full magazine. There is no distinctive pop-pop-pop. It sounds more like a motorcycle. No one needs a fully automatic weapon.

Because I don’t want to sound like one of those NRA gun nuts, I just want to briefly mention my political leanings. When it comes to drugs and guns, I do not believe in legislation for a single reason – a highly profitable black market (run by the very criminals we don’t want to have guns and drugs) is automatically created. Black markets breed violence, underground networks of criminals, and where there is a lot of money involved – wars between the networks.

History has shown us the facts of legislative control over substances. Consider Prohibition and the violence and cunning of moonshiners. Those illegal stills can be found and operative to this day. I believe a lot of thought about the outcomes should be put into place before any restrictive legislation is passed.

I’m not big on guns but I do own one. I own it legally and the government knows where to find me if it is ever used in the commission of a crime because it is registered. People who want guns no matter what will get guns no matter what. People who want drugs will get drugs no matter what. People who want to pay for sex will find someone selling sex no matter what. Obviously the only ones obeying the laws are the ones who would have obeyed their own morals had the law not existed.

I believe education on such matters is much more important than simply saying “No! Bad citizen!” If you know and respect such things, you are much less likely to break the laws of humanity.

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