|Owning guns is part of the bedrock of American culture. A year of sensational shootings has generated a fierce new debate about the place of guns in society. At the same time, however, gun violence is statistically on the decline. An overview of firearms in the United States:|
Single-chambered firearm that can be held with one hand. Each pull of a semi-automatic pistol fires a complete cycle, ejecting the shell casing and reloading another round from the magazine. The trigger must be released and pulled with each cycle.
1986 692,977 1997 1,036,077
1986 16,657 1997 44,182
Firearm with a multichambered cylinder that rotates around an axis when the hammer is cocked
A revolver fires one round for each pull of the trigger.
1986 734,650 1997 370,428
1986 103,890 1997 63,656
Short-range firearm with a smooth bore that discharges shells containing numerous pellets or a single slug
Pump-action shotgun has manually operated forearm that chambers, ejects and reloads a round
Semiautomatic shotgun allows for a complete firing cycle with one pull of the trigger
1986 641,482 1997 915,978
1986 58,943 1997 86,263
Firearm that loads, fires and ejects cartridges for as long as the trigger is depressed and cartridges are available. Illegal for most uses.
1986 41,482 1997 67,844
1986 24,781 1997 20,857
Firearm with spiral grooves in the bore that cause a bullet to rotate when fired. Used mainly for long-range shooting by soldiers and sportsmen.
Bolt-action rifle is loaded, cocked and unloaded manually
Semiautomatic rifle features inner mechanism that chambers, fires and ejects a round
Assault rifle has a detachable magazine and at least two of the following (below):
pistol grip below action of the weapon
flash suppressor or threaded barrel
1986 970,541 1997 1,251,341
1986 37,224 1997 76,626
Hollow-point, soft-point and expanding bullets
Designed with a cavity in the nose to expand on impact without passing through target. Such a cartridge is used in hunting to kill game instantly, as well as for self-defense and police operations.
Elongated design with radiused nose. Designed with less deadly force.
Feature a cylindrical design and a flattened front end at right angles to their axes. These bullets are intended to cut paper targets cleanly and easily for accuracy in scoring.
Design in which bullet jacket encloses most of the core. Used for military and target shooting.
Designed to penetrate armor plate. Constructed with tungsten or steel cores.
*1992-94 DATA. RESEARCH BY ELLEN FLORIAN, ANA FIGUEROA AND BRET BEGUN. SOURCES: ATF, CDC, FBI, KENNETH GREEN-SAAMI, THE MACMILLAN VISUAL DICTIONARY