Guide Of Gunpowder and Steel: A Roleplayer's Guide to Modern Firearms


Sep 11, 2019

Combat. Self Defense. Hunting. Recreation. Regardless of what it's used for, it's going to make a statement.

The Firearm. An elegant tool and extension of oneself for some. A brutal weapon of war for others. Regardless of your opinion on the subject, firearms have played an integral part in shaping the world we know today. You don't need to know everything about every gun out there to do well roleplaying one. But knowing how they work can help enhance the experience.


This guide is intended for the roleplayer with little firearms knowledge in mind. However, there's a good deal of knowledge that anyone can glean something from compiled here. Whilst it is long, I've packed it with pretty much any information that a roleplayer may want or need at any point. You can gloss over and skim through various points or read it from top to bottom. Either way, thank you or your interest.

Keep in mind that police, soldiers, and criminals are not the only ones that understand how firearms work. In fact, often times these exact people don't know There are numerous possible reasons your character may have a degree of firearms knowledge, whether from their family, working around firearms, or having an interest in firearms and/or their design.

An Overview:
  • 1 - The Basics
    • 1.1 - What Should Your Character Know?
    • 1.2 - "Why Do You Need A Gun?"
    • 1.3 - The Four Rules of Gun Safety
    • 1.4 - Click, Boom: How Guns Work
    • 1.5 - Basic Bitch Firearm Parts
  • 2 - On Firearms
    • 2.1 - Bullets, Cartridges, and Calibers
    • 2.2 - Common Firearm Actions
    • 2.3 - Semi Auto vs Full Auto
    • 2.4 - Shooting Fundamentals (Or Why You're Not John Wick)
    • 2.5 - Going Ballistic (Scientifically, That Is)
    • 2.6 - Misfires and Malfunctions, Oh My!
  • 3 - Did Someone Say 'Guns'?
    • 3.1 - Handguns
    • 3.2 - Shotguns
    • 3.3 - Rifles
    • 3.4 - Machine Guns
    • 3.5 - Submachine Guns
    • 3.6 - Other
  • 4 - The Government and You
    • 4.1 - The Laws that Define U.S.
    • 4.2 - Legally Acquiring a Gun
    • 4.3 - Illegally Acquiring a Gun
    • 4.4 - An American Gun Culture
    • 4.5 - Of Guns and Men: Gun Owner Archetypes
    • 4.6 - Myths and Misconceptions
  • 5 - This Was About Roleplay, Right?
    • 5.1 - Too Long; Didn't Read
    • 5.2 - Gun Injuries: Do's and Don'ts
    • 5.3 - Jargon and Lingo
1 - The Basics

1.1 - What Should Your Character Know?

First and foremost, consider what your character's knowledge level with firearms should be. Contrary to some beliefs, understanding the operation, history, or any other aspects of firearms is not tantamount to the job or life your character may lead. In real life there are a multitude of reasons one may show interest in guns and it is not restricted to any certain type of occupation, race, gender, or such. Some occupations inherently work with firearms (gun store owners, police, etc), but that doesn't necessarily mean these people are experts or even that knowledgeable in the field.

- The average police officer is usually required to only go to the range and practice with their sidearm once a year. The training quota is often below fifty rounds. Many officers have fairly middling knowledge on arms outside of safe operation.
- An African American IT Technician that owns a few rifles and handguns. He goes to the range once a month with some friends where they chat and shoot paper downrange. He's even participated in some sporting competitions.
- A mother of two with a handgun at home (locked away of course). She doesn't care about firearms knowledge outside of how to use the handgun safely and protect herself and her family with it. It stays in its case.
- A college student with an avid interest in firearms history and design. He went hunting with his dad as a child and can spout facts about firearms for days. He owns five or six, but they're back at home for safe keeping.

These are just a few concepts to illustrate different levels of firearms knowledge that different characters could have. Now, it's important to keep in mind that knowledge can still vary wildly based on circumstance. A character raised in Muldraugh, Kentucky is far more likely to have experience with firearms than a character from the suburbs of L.A. That's not to say it's impossible, but when writing your character, make sure their experience and familiarity with guns is believable.

1.2 - "Why Do You Need A Gun?"

As stated before, there are a multitude of reasons that someone may own or want to own firearms. Lets go over some of the more common reasons.

- Combat - This is one of the only reasons pretty much exclusively based upon occupation. Soldiers, Police, Private Military Contractors (PMCs) and sometimes security guards fall under this. Note that these are not people looking for trouble, but are prepared if it should come about.
- Self-Defense - Home defense and protecting oneself from assault are the most common reasons that the average person purchases a firearm these days. Handguns are the most common firearm of choice, though shotguns and carbines are also used by some. Usually adverse to violence, these people own firearms to protect themselves and those around them.
- Hunting - Once the most common use of firearms, hunting has become a relative niche in the modern day. Lightweight, scoped bolt action rifles are the weapon of choice for most hunters, allowing them to take down game from afar. Semi automatic rifles are also increasingly common. Shotguns are also used, particularly against fowl.
- Sport - Shooting for sport has seen a resurgence in recent years. With more and more gun owners, recreation and competition has seen an increase in popularity. Many desire to test their mettle and ability, either against the clock or other opponents. Shooting competitions vary wildly, from the Appleseed Shoot to 3-Gun, and numerous others. Clay pigeon and skeet shooting with shotguns is also a mainstay.
- Recreation - There are a variety of recreational activities that involve firearms. One of the most common involves going to the range and shooting paper or steel targets. Dubbed 'plinking', this is how most people spend their time practicing their technique and shooting.
- Collecting - Some people collect coins or stamps. Others collect firearms. Police revolvers, military surplus arms, firearms used by famous celebrities or historical figures and more, these collections can vary in theme, size, and cost. Some of them will take their precious arms out occasionally for a walk around the range, whilst others let their darling safe queens lay quiet in their tombs, protected from the dust and dirt of the outside world.
- Showing Off - And then some people just buy guns to show off. You've seen them online, probably on Instagram, doing selfies and flaunting the fact they have a gun like it's some trophy. Tend to be irresponsible with firearms.
- Criminal/Gangs - Criminals and gang members have numerous needs for a weapon. Whether it's white or blue collar crime, turf wars or assassinations, almost all need some firepower. Weaponry can be acquired legally or illegally. Gang members are more likely to opt for small, concealable weaponry, like pistols. Little "problem solvers".

This does not encompass all the variety or mannerisms one may own a firearm for, but it should give one a good idea if they're trying to justify their character owning or having experience with them. A variety of groups and organizations have

1.3 - The Four Rules of Gun Safety

Beginning in the early 20th century, numerous books and organizations provided their own interpretations on how to properly and safely handle firearms. Since the 1970s, there has been increased emphasis on safety and responsibility on the part of the shooter. This shift was popularized by Jeff Cooper, a prominent figure in firearms training and pistol shooting. He formalized and popularized the "Four Rules" of gun safety:

- 1. Treat every firearm as if it is always loaded.
- 2. Never allow the gun to point at anything you are not willing to destroy.
- 3. Only put your finger on the trigger when you are safely ready to fire.
- 4. Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it.

If a character has or receives any training from a reliable and responsible firearms instructor or owner, these four rules will without a doubt have been hammered into them before they're allowed to shoot. Many larger rangers require shooters demonstrate this level of gun safety before they're allowed to shoot. When at a public range, should one fail to demonstrate proper safety for themselves and those around them, it is not uncommon that a Range Safety Officer (RSO) will instruct the person to leave.

Outside of these four rules, there are numerous other rules that a character may have been taught or put upon themselves. These include:

- Keeping a gun unloaded at all times unless at a range.
- Making sure a gun is safely locked up when not in use.
- Never leave a gun unattended with children nearby.
- Clean and oil your firearm after each use.
- Check ammunition for deformations and damage before use.
- Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting
- Do not mix guns and alcohol. (Already illegal, but some people ignore it.)

Feel free to mix and match these and any other rules that may have been instilled in your character. Where one person may place emphasis on always cleaning guns after shooting, others may emphasize using the highest quality ammunition. However those top four rules are pretty much essential for almost anyone to at least know, and should abide by them at all times.

1.4 - Click, Boom: How Guns Work

The purpose of a gun is to accelerate an object (in this case, the bullet) to extremely high speeds so that it can hit a target a distance away with enough force to penetrate it. An apt analogy to help explain would be how a car engine works. After gasoline enters a small chamber, the spark plug causes it to explode, with the expanding gas only able to move in one direction, forcing the piston to move and turning the wheels of the vehicle.

Like an engine, after one pulls the trigger of a gun (the gasoline), a piece of metal strikes the back of a round into the primer (the spark plug). This sets off a spark inside the casing where gunpowder is held and creates an explosion. Wanting to expand, the explosion is trapped inside the casing. With only one place left to go, the explosion pushes against the back of the bullet, separating it from the casing and catapulting the bullet down the barrel towards its target. The explosive gasses follow and dissipate in the air, leaving the casing in the gun.

Near every gun is designed around this principle. For most guns, differences come down to how ammunition is loaded, the firearm's action and mode of operation, and the size and type of ammunition used.

1.5 - Basic Bitch Firearm Parts

There are a wide variety of parts and pieces for firearms, not accounting for the numerous aftermarket parts. Not all guns are the same and most are not interchangeable even inside their own design family. However some parts are near universal to all guns.

- Barrel - This is the tube that bullets fly down and out of. The longer the barrel, the more stable and generally the faster the bullet is when exiting the muzzle. They can vary in size, length, weight, and more. Most will have rifling, which helps stabilize the bullet and more accurate. Shotguns are usually the exception, with a smoothbore barrel.
- Trigger - The thing you pull to drop the hammer, which will strike the primer and launch the bullet forward. These are almost always surrounded by a "trigger guard" which prevents the shooter and random objects from pulling the trigger when unprepared. The weight of a trigger pull can vary; a trigger that is hard to pull is known as a "stiff trigger". Some modern guns like the Glock have a large aftermarket, and have a variety of triggers to replace the factory issue one.
- Magazine - There are two major types of magazines. An integral box magazine is not removable. Rounds are either inserted by hand, or by using a clip, which is a thin sheet of metal that holds cartridges. An integral tube magazine follows the same principle, but the magazine lies parallel to the barrel. It's most common in lever actions and shotguns. In contrast, detachable box magazines can be quickly removed and replaced by another, meaning the shooter spends less time reloading his or her gun. A magazine is not a clip.
- Stock/Buttstock - Found on rifles and shotguns, this is the part of the gun placed up on your shoulder when firing. Without a stock, most rifles and shotguns would be unusable because of the recoil, or power, that the gun imparts on the shooter when firing. Note that a stock can mean the whole body of a firearm (if in one piece), whereas a buttstock only encompasses the part placed against the shoulder.
- Grip/Pistol Grip - The part of the firearm that you hold onto, particularly when pulling the trigger. This can be a part of the stock, or in the case of pistols and many modern rifles and shotguns, a pistol grip. Grips and pistol grips may be textured in some manner, designed to give the shooter a better hold on the firearm.
- Safety - A mechanical lever that blocks the gun from firing when engaged. It is generally engaged by a button or a toggle on the side of the rifle, but some guns employ a safety integrated into the grip (M1911) or the trigger (Glock).
- Sights - What you use to aim the firearm. Generally called iron sights, they vary wildly from one gun to another and can be modified to make shooting easier. Lining up the rear and front sights is required to make an accurate shot. In the modern day, holographic sights, red dot sights, and other optics have become more popular, but are generally expensive for high quality and reliable choices.

On one final note, an artist named Jarv has created a handy guide on the common characteristics of rifles that goes more in depth on common firearm parts and their function on rifles. It's very informative and highly recommended. (Double click on the picture to zoom in).

2 - On Firearms

2.1 - Bullets, Cartridges, and Calibers

When the average person thinks of a "bullet" what generally comes to mind is actually called a "round" or a "cartridge". The bullet itself is the projectile that actually leaves the barrel after firing. The modern smokeless powder cartridge was invented in the 1880s and underwent widespread experimentation well into the mid 20th century. As the diagram demonstrates, the modern cartridge is a fairly simple construction, made up of the casing, primer, gunpowder, and the bullet itself. The casing can either be constructed from steel or brass whilst the bullet can be made of a variety of metals, though lead with a copper jacket is the most common.

An important distinction between pistols and rifles is that the majority of modern day rifles use spitzer bullets, which taper to a point and have more accuracy, kinetic efficiency, and can travel further than round nose or hollow point bullets commonly used in handguns. The only pistol caliber largely available to civilians with a spitzer bullet is the FN 5.7x28mm used in the Five-seveN. Bullets come in a variety of types used for different purposes. Each type is generally referred to by its acronym. Below are common and well known ammunition types. Know that there are many other types, so feel free to research.

- Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)
- Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)
- Semiwadcutter (SWC)
- Soft Point (SP)
- Armor Piercing (AP)
- Tracer
- Blank

Today small arms ammunition is divided into two groups: Rimfire cartridges and Centerfire cartridges. Once the most popular, rimfire has largely fallen to the wayside with the exception of .22LR, which continues as a very cheap and common round with low recoil used for practice, plinking, and small game hunting. In practice, the firing pin strikes the rim to set off the primer.

By contrast, centerfire cartridges place the primer in the center of the casing (pretty obvious, I know). Using the centerfire system, casings can be made stronger and withstand higher pressures than with rimfire, allowing for the use of larger number of calibers in pistols, rifles, and shotguns. Centerfire ammunition can be made more accurate and powerful than rimfire ammunition. Brass ammunition can even be reloaded and reused after firing with the proper components and tooling. However the complexity makes it more expensive, and the larger size imparts more recoil on the shooter.

In addition to this, an important distinction that must be made are intermediate cartridges and full power rifle cartridges. Full power rifle cartridges have a minimum effective range of 1,000 meters and are generally fairly large. They have more powder and bigger bullets and were developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Because of this, full power cartridges produce far more recoil, and are fairly uncontrollable in handheld small arms automatic fire, as seen when the M14 and FAL, and other battle rifles.

Intermediate cartridges are smaller and less powerful than full-power cartridges and have significantly reduced recoil in comparison. As such, rifles are far easier to control when on full auto. In addition to this, the lessened recoil allows for rapid, accurate follow up shots compared to semi automatic firearms that use full power cartridges. Smaller cartridges also means that someone can carry more of them than would be possible with full size rifle cartridges. On the other hand, the effective range of intermediate cartridges is between 300 and 600 meters; keep this in mind if your character finds themselves engaged in long range combat.

Unlike pistols and rifles, modern shotgun shells consist of a plastic tube mounted into a brass base with a primer. Shot (small metal balls) or a slug (a big bullet, usually rifled) are placed inside the tube. Shell sizes and shot size can vary. Birdshot, Buckshot, and Slugs compose the most common ammunition in shotguns.

- Birdshot - Multiple small metal pellets. Designed for small game and fowl. Will wound larger animals and humans, but largely ineffective in killing targets.
- Buckshot - Designed for hunting medium to large game and use by law enforcement. Can effectively kill humans and other thin skinned targets. Most common is #00 Buck, which has eight small metal balls.
- Slug - There are many types of slugs. However the modern shotgun slug is generally a big, rifled bullet effective for hunting large game, self defense, and law enforcement. Foster slugs are the most common and designed to be shot from smoothbore shotguns.
- Beanbag Round - Also known as a "flexible baton round", these are used by law enforcement as a less than lethal method of apprehending subjects.

Shotgun shells are measured in gauges, like 12 gauge or 16 gauge. Shotgun shells differ in that they're measured by gauges, like 12 gauge or 16 gauge. The smaller the gauge, the larger the shotgun bore. Shotgun gauges are determined by the number of lead balls equal to the diameter of the bore that it takes to equal one pound.

One of the biggest difference from one gun to the next lies in its caliber. Caliber basically translates to the size of the round, and can be measured in either imperial inches or metric millimetres. "9mm" or ".45 inch" refers to the widest diameter of the bullet. Another important measurement is the length of the casing. Calibers will often be designated by both the width of the bullet and the length of the casing alongside that particular caliber's nickname to help distinguish it from other calibers of similar size.

- 9x19 Parabellum vs 9x18 Makarov vs 9x23 Steyr vs 9x23 Largo
- 7.62x51 NATO vs 7.62x39 Soviet vs 7.62x25 Tokarev vs 7.62x54mmR
- .45 ACP, .45 GAP, .45 Long Colt, .455 Webley

However, keep in mind how your character may mention these calibers to another person. If you walk into a gun store and ask "I need some nine millimetre (9mm)" or "I need some seven six two (7.62)", the store owner will either ask "what kind" or assume you're asking for (in this case) 9x19 or 7.62x51. There are three ways people familiar with different calibers will specify:
- The whole caliber name. "I need some nine by nineteen parabellum (9x19 Parabellum)" or "I would like some forty five A-C-P. (.45 ACP)"
- The numeric designation. "Can I get some thirty aught six (30-06)?" or "Do you have any five four five by thirty nine? (5.45x39)
- The first number (if metric) and its nickname. "Have any seven six two NATO? (7.62 NATO)" or "I hope you have three oh three Brit (.303 Brit[ish])

Note that instead of writing out the number, I wrote out how people would say it. You don't have to do this (and probably shouldn't, it can confuse some people), but it should help you understand what people say when discussing calibers in real life.

2.2 - Common Firearm Actions

From matchlock to gas pistons, firearms have have evolved drastically since they came into use almost a millennium ago. In firearm terms, the action is the functional mechanism of a breech loading weapon (in this case, a gun), that handles ammunition. They can be categorized in several ways. The most common actions seen today will be discussed here.
  • Manual Operation
    • Bolt Action - One of the simplest actions, bolt actions are almost exclusively used in rifles, though some bolt action shotguns exist. The action is operated by manually pushing the bolt forward, pulling the trigger, then pulling the bolt back to extract the cartridge before finally pushing the bolt forward to load a fresh cartridge. This action is suited for the widest variety of calibers, small and large.
    • Pump Action - Pump actions are most common with shotguns, though smaller caliber rifles also use this type of action. The action is operated by manually pushing the forend forward, chambering a round, pulling the trigger, pulling the foreend back to extract the shell, and then pushing the foreend forward once more to load a shell. They are generally faster than bolt actions and very versatile. The strength of this action means a shooter has more options in their shell loads than one using a semi automatic shotgun.
    • Lever Action - Dating back to the 19th Century, this action is seen in many rifles and shotguns. They're often associated with Westerns and cowboys. The action is operated by manually pulling the lever attached to the rifle down, ejecting a spent cartridge before pulling said lever back up, which loads a fresh cartridge. After pulling the trigger, the process is repeated.
    • Revolver - The first successful multi shot handguns, revolvers store several rounds in a revolving cylinder that mates with the gun barrel and the firing mechanism.
      • Single Action - Virtually all revolvers made prior to the 1870s were single action. This meant that the hammer had to be cocked after each shot before firing. The trigger only conducts a single action, dropping the hammer. These are generally more accurate than their double action counterparts, since the trigger pull is lightened.
      • Double Action - Double action revolvers in contrast don't require the user to cock the hammer after each shot. The trigger pull accomplishes two actions: pulling the hammer back and indexing the cylinder to the next round, then releasing the hammer to strike the firing pin. The trade off is a longer and harder trigger stroke, which may hinder accuracy. Even if a revolver is double action, some may choose to use it like a single action, negating the accuracy penalty. However some revolvers are double action only (DAO).
  • Autoloading Operation
    • Blowback - A system of operation for semi automatic and fully automatic firearms that obtains energy from the motion of the cartridge case as it is ejected to the rear by expanding gases after successfully firing a round. Spring pressure and inertia from the weight of the bolt keep the action from opening too quickly. They typically only work with lower powered cartridges because of how heavy the bolt is required to be..
    • Recoil Operation - A system of operation used in semi automatic and fully automatic firearms. It's similar to blowback, but includes a locking mechanism coupled with the barrel which moves independently of the frame. This forces the cartridge to act against the inertia of both the barrel and the breechlock. The barrel and the breechlock disconnect, and as the slide moves backwards, the spent casing is ejected and a new round is chambered, with the barrel and breechlock reconnecting.
    • Gas Operation - A system of operation used in semi automatic and fully automatic firearms. With gas operation, a portion of high pressure gas from a cartridge is diverted from the barrel back to the action, cycling the spent casing and chambering a new cartridge. There are three common methods of achieving this, known as short stroke gas piston, long stroke gas piston, and direct impingement, each with their different pros and cons.

2.3 - Semi Auto vs Full Auto

Labels such as "semi auto" or "full auto" refer to how the gun performs its action. The cycling process starts with loading a round through firing it and removing the spent casing. For centuries it was always up to the user to manually operate the action. A skilled soldier in the American Revolution could get four or five shots off from their musket over the course of a minute. Over time, firearms development led to innovations like machine rifled barrels, bolt actions, and smokeless powder, all of which increased the rate at which one could accurately and reliably fire. However these were all still manually operated weapons.

By contrast, with semi autos one pulls the trigger, the gun fires and cycles by itself and is ready to fire the net time one pulls the trigger. Using a recoil or gas system and the energy from the gunpowder explosion, these systems kick out a spent casing and load in a new one. Without having to worry about manually ejecting a casing, this allows a shooter to keep their eyes on target and put more rounds downrange. However, it is still only one round per trigger pull.

The big difference between fully automatic and semi automatic arms lies in the trigger pull. With a fully automatic, one can just pull the trigger once and the gun will keep firing and cycling itself until you release the trigger or the magazine runs empty, whichever comes first. Of course, firing in bursts with an automatic weapon is far more practical than using up a whole magazine in one go, but some people can't be helped dumping hundreds of dollars in less than five minutes.

2.4 - Shooting Fundamentals (Or Why You're Not John Wick)

Whether it's for your job, competition, or recreation, there's more to shooting than just "pointing and clicking" in the direction of the target. One can have a solid knowledge of guns and the most gucci rifle or handgun on the market, but it won't do any good without proper training and understanding of the fundamentals of shooting. Keanu Reeves (as John Wick) only looks so good on the big screen because he trains with skilled combat instructors and understands shooting in intense situations.

Each of these eight fundamentals are important. They are the building blocks towards becoming a good shooter. New shooters won't be as good as John Wick, Jerry Miculek or any other prominent shooter or marksman from the get go, but with these fundamentals they make the first steps towards shooting proficiency. This list is in order of sequence during shooting, but each fundamental is important in their own right.

- Stance/Platform - Shooting stance is by far the simplest to convey. There are a variety depending on whether you're shooting a handgun or a long arm. "Isosceles Stance" is a common stance to teach beginners with handguns. It involves spreading legs apart and leaning forward and a slight bend in the knees, making a triangle with your chest and arms whilst holding a handgun. At its basest, a good shooting stance puts weight forward and the gun in front of the eyes. Good resources for various shooting stances include PoliceOne's and OutdoorEmpire's
- Grip - A firm yet comfortable grip on your firearm is essential. This doesn't mean squeezing it to death, but you must hold it strong enough to mitigate and handle recoil. Your ability to quickly fire multiple well-aimed shots and mitigate recoil rests in large part on how you grip your firearm. Depending on the weight of the firearm, this may be more of a challenge. Range365 has a guide on good and bad pistol grips.
- Draw - Your draw centers on getting the weapon into the plane of vision (between your eyes and the target) as quickly and efficiently as possible. It includes how you deal with holsters and how you initially grip when going into a shooting position. Fluidly transitioning from holster or the low ready to the a shooting position is key here.
- Sight Alignment and Sight Picture - Sight alignment (with iron sights) centers on viewing the front sight through the rear sight, equally spaced and even across the top. Sight picture is placing those properly aligned sights on the intended target. Understanding how to use your sights and successfully put them on target is essential to aim and shooting. Optics are somewhat easier, as one doesn't have to worry about aligning iron sights. However, longer range shooters must account for a variety of other complications, including wind speed and direction.
- Trigger Management - Don't just yank back on the trigger. Doing so will throw your aim off and lead to a missed shot. Instead you steadily apply pressure into the trigger, slowly squeezing it back. Otherwise one my develop a flinch when anticipating the shot. Generally the trigger should rest on the end of your finger between the first joint and the finger tip.
- Breathing - Breathing is important; do it improperly and it can be enough to throw your shot off. When ready to shoot, draw a deep breath and exhale, and squeeze the trigger. Generally holding your breath for too long will lead to small tremors; reset if this begins happening. When firing rapidly or quick follow up shots, breathing serves more to reduce stress and keep focus on the target.
- Follow Through - A less commonly taught yet extremely important fundamental, follow through means maintaining all fundamentals even after taking the shot. Moving the gun directly after firing will often throw off. Keeping sights up and following up with recoil, and is essential for consecutive follow up shots on target. Follow through is easiest if you keep a good grasp of all other fundamentals whilst shooting.
- Recovery - Finally, recovery deals with what you do after finishing shooting. Breathing, scanning your environment and returning your firearm to the slung position or the holster are a part of it. Engaging the safety may also be a part of it. This fundamental is about situational awareness, making sure to know your environment and any potential threats that may rise after shooting.

An easy to remember acronym developed by members of the military simplifies this process, dubbed B.R.A.S.S.

Squeeze the Trigger
Squeeze More
(for follow through).

Shooting at a professional level takes years of practice. However with these eight fundamentals in mind, you (and/or your character) take the first steps towards shooting proficiency. As far as roleplaying goes, this is a bit more in depth than the four rules, so it's not always likely that your character would or even should know about all of these fundamentals. They may know a few things, such as stance, grip, and sight alignment, whereas others go completely over their head. Think about your character's skill level and how this would translate to that.

2.5 - Going Ballistic (Scientifically, That Is)

The term ballistics refers to the science of the travel of a projectile in flight. Bullets aren't lasers like in most video games; they fall over a distance, what's generally known as "bullet drop". The flight path of a bullet includes: Travel down the barrel (Internal Ballistics), path through the air (External Ballistics) and path through a target (Terminal Ballistics). The wounding potential of projectiles is a complex matter.

Internal Ballistics - The Study of projectiles from the moment the firing pin strikes the primer to just before it leaves the barrel.

As the bullet is propelled down the barrel, the rifling imparts a rotational spin on the projectile, providing it with stability as it exits the barrel. Think of the spin a football is given when thrown by a quarterback.
The bullet is adversely affected by incorrect twist rates. Over stabilize, and the round won't cause the same level as damage, even if hitting the target. Understabilize, and the bullet will not travel accurately and will be more likely to keyhole, yaw, or be affected by the atmosphere.

External Ballistics - Study of the projectile from the time it exits the barrel to the moment before it impacts the target.

As the bullet flies through the air, the main forces acting upon the projectile are gravity, drag, and any present wind. Gravity pulls the bullet downward, drag (air resistance) gradually decelerates the bullet whilst wind creates projectile deviation. Each of these can have a major impact on the path of the projectile. The longer distance from one to the intended target, the larger effect these and other forces will have upon the projectile. Keep in mind that the longer range from the shooter to the target, the higher a shooter will have to aim. This correlates with the firearm pointing upward, with the bullet acting in an even more pronounced parabolic fashion.
The effect by gravity on the bullet is known as "bullet drop". Other factors include the bullet's spin, imparted upon it by the barrel. The faster the spin, the less likely a bullet will "yaw" or turn sideways and tumble during its flight. A barrel with an increased twist like a 1 in 7 twist barrel will impart a greater spin than one of lower twist such as a 1 in 12 twist barrel. As the bullet travels further, drag increasingly makes small movements and adjustments to the bullet, which slow it down. This drag turns the bullet into whatever wind is present and can cause the bullet to minutely shift and bob in the air as it travels through the air.

This is why spitzer type bullets with larger cartridges travel further than round nosed pistol ammunition. Though pistol ammunition like 9x19mm and .45 ACP is larger in width than many common rifle rounds, they use a stubby, round or flat head bullet and have a casing that holds far less gun powder. In comparison to spitzer type bullets (with less surface area) and bigger casings that hold more powder, pistol calibers have a combination of less speed going out of the muzzle and more drag, meaning they will slow and hit the ground far faster than most rifle cartridges.

Terminal Ballistics - Study of the projectile from the moment it hits the target and the damage the bullet inflicts upon the target.

So what happens when the bullet actually hits a target? Well, yawing, though detrimental to the bullet's flight path, is particularly important to terminal ballistics. Upon entering tissue, the bullet begins to yaw severely and turn, causing more tissue displacement, destroying more flesh as the bullet imparts devastating kinetic energy on the body as it slows down. Bullets with higher kinetic energy upon hitting the body will experience some yaw, but will tend to zip through the body, leaving an exit wound. Bullets create tissue damage via three ways:

- Laceration/Crushing - Tissue damage through laceration and crushing occurs along the path the projectile and its fragments produce. Diameter of the crushing injury is the diameter of the bullet or fragment. This creates a permanent cavity.
- Cavitation - A permanent cavity is caused by the path of the bullet with the crushed tissue, and is what is seen above. However in addition to this, a temporary cavity is formed by radial stretching around the bullet track from acceleration in the wake of the bullet as it slows down, causing the wound cavity to stretch. With low velocity projectiles, the two cavities are nearly the same, but high velocity bullets yaw in the body, making the temporary cavity even larger.
- Shock Waves - As the bullet travels through the body, it imparts shockwaves through the tissues. These last only a few microseconds and at low velocity don't create much damage. However at higher velocities, the pressure wave from the bullet slamming into flesh and propelling deeper can produce a concussive effect on targets and incapacitate them. In rare instances, the shockwave can even fracture bone.
Bullet velocity and mass upon hitting the target are the main factors in the nature of wounding. High velocity, lower mass bullets like .223/5.56 will tumble, cavitate, and release energy quickly upon striking the target, leaving larger internal wounds. By contrast, a larger mass bullet from .308/7.62x51 or higher is designed to penetrate into larger game animals to produce the same sort of effect 5.56 has on humans. By contrast, 7.62x51 is more likely to zip through the human body, leaving an entrance and exit wound.

2.6 - Misfires and Malfunctions, Oh My!

Most firearms have the capacity to remain perfectly operable a century after it was first manufactured. However, constant use and general wear and tear will eventually lead to parts failure, even with proper maintenance. Some gun owners push their firearms hard. They engage in rapid fire. They stop cleaning and oiling the gun after use. And when they push the gun to its limit, sometimes it cracks, and you're left with a big paperweight.

There are a variety of misfires, malfunctions, and other maladies that may befall a firearm throughout its service life. Some are more likely to happen than others. Due to the sheer nature of firearms, semi automatic and fully automatic arms are far more likely to suffer part degradation, jams and malfunctions than manually operated arms. There's just more parts involved, and as such there's more that can go wrong. In other cases, the problem lies with the cartridge rather than the firearm. These issues are listed below.

- Misfire/Failure to Fire - This occurs when the firing pin strikes the primer, but the round does not go off. It's largely uncommon with modern ammunition as quality has gone up, and naturally tends to be a problem when shooting old commercial or military surplus ammunition. Proper handling procedure is to keep firearm pointed downrange for at least a minute; this is to make sure the round is not a hangfire. Extracting the round too early may be dangerous, as the round may potentially still be in the process of going off.
- Hang Fire - Similar to a failure to fire, this occurs when the firing pin strikes the primer, but the round doesn't go off immediately. There's a delay between pulling the trigger and ignition of the propellant. This is generally an issue with older ammunition with long unused primers. Proper handling procedure is the same as with FTF, keeping firearm pointed downrange for at least a minute. If it goes off, it is a hangfire. If not, it is an FTF.
- Squib Load - Extremely rare, this occurs when the energy propelling the round is less than necessary to push the bullet out the barrel, resulting in a bullet lodged between and the chamber. When it happens, it's usually with cheap, low quality ammunition, and signified by a small pop, smoke from the barrel, and/or less recoil than usual. Though you're terribly unlikely to ever witness one, squibs can cause severe problems, and so they're emphasized as something to watch for
- Failure to Feed - This occurs when a firearm fails to push a round into the chamber. It can occur because of damaged magazines or weak magazine springs, improperly loaded magazines, dirt and grime in the action or chamber, or damaged cartridges. Another case is when trying to load the incorrect caliber into the chamber or ammunition that the feed ramp does not accommodate, such as hollow point bullets. Proper handling procedure is to remove the magazine and clear the chamber before reloading and trying again. Sometimes you'll need to clean and lubricate the gun if it's too grimy.
- Failure to Extract - Occurs when the casing of a fired round is not successfully removed from the chamber. It tends to lead to a double feed, and jamming associated with that. Several causes include dirt and corrosion in the extractor claw or chamber case rim failures and other defects, or a damaged extractor. Proper handling procedure is to remove the magazine and rack the slide several times in a safe direction to try extracting the round. If the casing remains in, one may hazard to use a cleaning rod or some other thin, strong instrument to carefully put down the barrel and push the casing out.
- Failure to Eject - In contrast to a failure to extract, a failure to eject occurs when the casing of a fired round is successfully extracted from the chamber, but fails to clear the slide or bolt of the firearm before it attempts to push the next round into the chamber. This often occurs from a dirty chamber, a cartridge not generating enough force to properly force the slide back, or a weak grip. One handling procedure for this malfunction is dubbed "Tap, Rack, Bang", referring to tapping the magazine to make sure it's fully seated, racking the slide to properly extract the round, and then returning to the shooting position (Bang!). If the casing sticks cleanly sticks out, it's called a stovepipe.
- Double Feed - This occurs when two rounds attempt to enter the chamber of a firearm at the same time, causing the gun to lock up and partially hold the slide or bolt open. It is generally preceded by a failure to extract of a previously fired round or when a shooter attempts to clear a misfeed but forgets to properly insert the magazine before racking the slide/bolt. Proper handling procedure involves removing the magazine before racking the slide/bolt back to extract both the casing and fresh cartridge.
- Slam Fire - Refers to when a new cartridge is loaded and the bolt slams the cartridge into the chamber with such force that the firing pin (not fully retracted into the bolt or carried forward by momentum) strikes the cartridge before the user can pull the trigger. This can even unintentionally lead to uncontrollable fully automatic operation of the action. Not to be confused with 'slam firing' a shotgun.

Firearms maintenance and care are important. Proper cleaning and oiling to the chamber, bolt, and barrel will generally limit malfunctions during use.

3 - Did Someone Say 'Guns'?

3.1 - Handguns

Handguns are short barreled firearms that can be held and used with one hand, though two hands are better for more accurate shooting. There are several types still used in the modern day.

- Revolvers - Revolvers (or wheel guns) are a repeating handgun that uses a revolving cylinder that holds multiple cartridges (usually six) and one or more barrels. Before firing, the hammer is cocked and the cylinder rotates. Revolvers in the modern day are available in either single-action, double-action, or with both. In the modern day, revolvers are valued for their simplicity and reliability. In addition to this, some revolvers are capable of using powerful magnum cartridges.
- Derringers - Modern derringers are small sized handguns that are very small and conducive towards deep concealed carry. They've been made with one, two, and even four barrels. Calibers vary from the diminutive .22LR up to .410 shot shell.
However, they've generally become supplanted by pocket pistols and mini revolvers. The benefit of a derringer is that its extremely small size means it can be hidden far more easily than other handguns.
- Semi Automatic Pistol - Overall semi auto pistol designs haven't changed all that much since John Browning's M1911 hit the scene prior to World War I. Semi-Automatic pistols are a repeating single chamber handgun that automatically cycles its action to insert the following cartridge into the chamber with each pull of the trigger. They generally have a removable box magazine found in the grip, though some older and different designs are fed by other methods.
- Machine Pistols - Developed alongside semi auto pistol designs, machine pistols are self-loading pistols capable of fully automatic or burst fire. First devised by the Germans during World War I, they have little utility and are generally rare outside of the hands of rich collectors and military service, supplanted in favor of submachine guns.

3.2 - Shotguns

One of the oldest types of firearms in the world. Shotguns are longarm firearms typically designed to be fired from the shoulder, using the energy from a fired shell to propel a number of small, spherical pellets called shot or a solid projectile called a slug. They come in a number of operating mechanisms and are typically smoothbore, though rifle barreled shotguns exist solely for use with slugs. Shotguns have a wide variety of applications and uses.

- Break Action - For the longest time, break action shotguns were the most common shotguns. There are three types, single-barreled, "side by sides" and "over-unders". Side by side shotguns place the two barrels beside each other. They cheaper to manufacture, and are less complicated to manufacture, commonly used in hunting. Over-Under shotguns in contrast have the barrels mounted one on top of the other, and are better for sport and recreational shooting.
- Pump Action - Now the most common shotgun variation, pump actions rely on a sliding forearm handle, or pump, to work the action. They're generally fed from tube magazines, though variations that take detachable box magazines or drums do exist. They're used in a variety of functions, from military and police to hunting and home defense. A variety of shell types are usable in pump action shotguns and they serve as excellent firearms for novice and expert alike.
- Lever Action - Based on the increasing popularity of lever action rifles in the mid 1800s, gun designers attempted to marry the action with the shotgun. For a short period of time, lever action shotguns enjoyed commercial success. But with the introduction of pump action shotguns and fragility of paper shot shells of the period, lever action shotguns faded away. Some companies continue to produce them today for enthusiasts.
- Semi Automatic - Also known as autoloaders, semi automatic shotguns rely on gas, inertia, or recoil operations to cycle shot shells after firing. These have been around since the early 1900s with Browning's Auto-5. As with any semi-automatic firearm, they're more likely to accrue dirt and grime and malfunction than their manually operated counterparts. Because shells need to have enough power to cycle the action, they're not as versatile as pump shotguns, but still see wide use, both in police and military use, and in the sporting community.
- Automatic - Almost exclusively in the hands of militaries and police, automatic shotgun designs rely on the same properties as semi-automatic shotguns and are very rare. Because of the niche utility of these firearms, they rarely see use out of certain military purposes.

3.3 - Rifles

Rifles are long arm firearms designed for accurate shooting; the barrel has helical grooves, or rifling, cut into it that imparts a spin to the bullet, stabilizing and improving accuracy. Generally they're made to be held in both hands and pressed against the shoulder when shooting. There is a lot of overlap between different rifles and their utility. As such, the rifles below are divided by their actions and then roles typically applied to those types of rifles.

- Bolt Action - Bolt action rifles are involve manual operation of the bolt to cycle cartridges in and out of the chamber. They can either be turn bolt (Mauser, Mosin) or straight pull (Schmidt Rubin, Mannlicher 95)
> Hunting Rifle - Bolt actions are the most common rifle used in hunting. With it's strong and simple action and variety of calibers, these rifles work well for hunting anything from rabbits (.22LR) to deer (.308/7.62x51) and even larger calibers like .577 for big game hunting. These rifles are often outfitted with a scope to aid in long distance hunting. Although these are generally commercial rifles, many rifles on the market are former military bolt actions cut down and "sporterized", making them lighter and easier to use.
> Match Rifle - Bolt actions are traditionally used in official shooting sport competitions. These can vary from military surplus bolt actions and stock commercial rifles all the way to specially made competition rifles with a variety of instruments.
> Varmint Rifle - Bolt actions are the most common choice for varmint hunting. Generally using small caliber ammunition up to .223/5.56x45, these rifles are outfitted with long range scopes to take down vermin and invasive species like cats, dogs, rodents, and more.
> Sniper Rifle - One cannot slap a scope on a rifle and call it a sniper rifle. Sniper rifles are high precision long range instruments, finely tuned for accuracy, reliability, and concealment and generally outfitted with a long range optic. Though there are some semi automatic sniper rifles, bolt actions are generally stronger and less likely to break.
> Scout Rifle - A class of general purpose rifles that are exclusively bolt actions. Scout rifles emphasize comfortable and practical accuracy, typically chambered in .308/7.62x51, short and lightweight, capable of using both iron sights and optics, and use simple sling devices, amongst other prerequisites. These rifles are expected to be equally as good in hunting as it was in fighting.
> Carbine - A carbine is any rifle with a shorter barrel than a full-length rifle. They're usually light weight and maneuverable. Almost all are derivatives from existing designs. Length may vary, but in the United States, 16 inches is the shortest a rifle barrel may legally be without filing for a short barrel rifle (SBR) stamp to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). Rifles of this length are often marketed as carbines, but with said stamp, they can be made even shorter.
- Lever Action - Lever action rifles involve manual operation of a lever to cycle cartridges in and out of the chamber.
> Hunting Rifle - Due to lever actions increased speed versus bolt actions, some hunters opt to use them over bolt actions. A variety of calibers are available for numerous lever actions, just like bolt action rifles.
> Varmint Rifle - Similar to above, the increased speed of lever actions make them preferable for some, especially if going after more than one vermin.
- Semi Automatic - Semi automatic rifles involve either blowback, recoil, or gas operation of the bolt from force of the cartridge going off to cycle cartridges in and out. The trigger must be pulled each time.
> Hunting Rifle - Since the the turn of the 20th century, semi-automatic rifles have been used for hunting a variety of games. As innovations matured and became cheaper, they became a more and more common choice for hunters. Quick follow up shots, larger magazine capacity, and parts modularity are cited as a benefit of using these rifles for hunting over their bolt action and lever action counterparts. However, most of them cannot chamber the large calibers used for big game hunting.
> Varmint Rifle - Similar to above, semi-automatic rifles are good for hunting fast, numerous, and/or dangerous vermin and non-game animals, such as feral hogs and coyotes.
> Battle Rifle - Battle rifles are military service rifles using a detachable box magazine and firing a full power cartridge. Some of these rifles, often designed prior to the late '50s and early '60s have no selective fire and are only semi automatic.
> Designated Marksmen Rifle (DMR) - DMRs are scoped precision weapon systems in modern militaries. They're generally designed for shorter range engagements between 300 and 600 meters, filling the gap between standard service rifles and sniper rifles. They have larger magazines than their bolt action counterparts and may be equipped with certain accessories to assist in long range combat.
> Carbine - A carbine is any rifle with a shorter barrel than full-length rifle. They're usually light weight and maneuverable. Almost all are derivatives from existing designs. Length may vary, but in the United States, 16 inches is the shortest a rifle barrel may legally be without filing for a short barrel rifle (SBR) stamp to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). Rifles of this length are often marketed as carbines, but with said stamp, they can be made even shorter.
> Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) - As stated above, SBRs are a legal classification in the U.S. for any rifle with a barrel length shorter than 16 inches. It also applies to handguns fitted with a stock.
- Fully Automatic - Fully Automatic rifles use the same actions as semi-automatics, but have a sear that allows the action to freely cycle after a single trigger pull until either the shooter lets go of the trigger or the ammunition runs dry.
> Assault Rifle - Assault rifles are military service rifles using a detachable box magazines and firing an intermediate cartridge. They first came into being during World War II and were adopted by most modern militaries by the 1970s. These are the standard type of rifle that modern militaries are equipped with today.
> Battle Rifle - Battle rifles are military service rifles using a detachable box magazine and firing a full power cartridge. Virtually all battle rifles designed after the early 1950s are capable of fully automatic fire.
> Carbine - The military carbine is a shorter version of the full-length service rifle. They're smaller and more lightweight, making them easier to handle, and are typically issued to high mobility soldiers, paratroopers, and non-infantry personnel with roles that don't require full size rifles. Some militaries issue carbines as standard issue, such as the US Army and the M4A1 Carbine.

3.4 - Machine Guns

Machine guns are fully automatic firearms (either mounted or man portable) designed to fire rifle caliber cartridges in rapid succession from an ammunition belt or magazine. There are specific qualities that make for a machine gun; just because a gun is capable of fully automatic fire does not make it a machine gun (exception is legal definition, such as the U.S. ATF's definition of a machine gun).

The term "machine gun" refers to heavy weapons capable of continuous or bursts of automatic fire. They typically have built in systems to reduce or prevent overheating, such as air cooling or quick change barrels. They're generally used against personnel, aircraft, and light vehicles or provide suppressive fire against enemies. Single shots and burst fire are more accurate, but both burst and continuous fire serve as effective ways of suppressing opponents. Machine guns can be outfitted with a bipod or mounted with on a tripod or vehicle to help manage the heavy recoil associated with these firearms.

In the modern day, machine guns can be divided into four categories: Light, medium, heavy, and general purpose.

- Light Machine Guns (LMG) - Machine guns designed to be used by an individual soldier as an infantry support weapon, often used as a squad automatic weapon (SAW). Modern LMGs fire usually fire the same intermediate cartridge as service assault rifles and are lighter and more compact than larger machine guns (though still heavier than a service rifle). For particularly strong users, they can be fired from the hip or whilst moving. Depending on the design, they can be fed with either an ammunition belt, a detachable box magazine, or both.
- Medium Machine Gun (MMG) - In the modern day, MMGs refer to a belt fed machine gun firing a full power rifle cartridge, in contrast to an LMG's intermediate cartridge. Virtually all MMGs can be found with either bipod or tripod/pintle mount options and quick change barrels, giving them a wide array of versatility and use. This doesn't mean they can fire uninhibited without overheating, but it gives the user more options. Because of the ability to transition MMGs between LMG and HMG roles, they are alternatively called general-purpose machine guns.
- Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) - In the modern day, HMGs refer to belt fed automatic firearms using large calibers such as .50BMG, designed to increase range, penetatrion, and destructive power against vehicles, building, aircraft, and fortifications beyond what's capable with LMGs and MMGs. They are mounted either on a tripod or in vehicles. An interesting variation are gatling type machine guns, using multiple barrels to fire at extremely high rates, though these are exclusively mounted in vehicles.
- General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) - This is a name also used for MMG guns. It refers to the versatility of MMGs and how they can be used as both LMGs when fixed with a bipod or MMGs when fixed to a tripod or vehicle.

3.5 - Submachine Guns

Submachine guns (SMG) are magazine fed automatic carbines designed to shoot handgun caliber cartridges. In an era of bolt actions, they served as a method for increasing the firepower of squads, giving them the automatic fire capability of a machine gun with the mobility of a carbine. However their use in the modern day has been largely supplanted by assault rifles, carbines, and personal defense weapons (PDWs). Despite this, some special forces and elite police officers continue to use SMGs for close quarters combat because of its low recoil and less likelihood to overpenetrate past targets.

Because of their availability, compact size, and (generally) cheap cost of manufacturing, submachine guns became just as popular with paramilitary groups, terrorists, and criminals as with military and police worldwide. However by the 2000s, crime involving SMGs had diminished to rarity outside of its occasional use in gang violence, largely in part due to heavy restrictions in obtaining such weapons.

Certain carbines and PDWs are described as submachine guns due to their similar size and characteristics. However neither of these are chambered in pistol caliber cartridges, and as such do not fit the technical definition of a submachine gun. Plenty of people continue to do so regardless.

3.6 - Other

This section is for firearms that are more unusual and may not easily fall into other designations. It also includes specific types of firearms that fall under ATF legal definition. The wonderfully confusing and illogical world of the ATF, yeah...

- Pistol Caliber Carbines (PCC) - A newer trend that picked up in popularity in the late 2000s and 2010s, the pistol caliber carbine is a shoulder mounted semi-automatic long gun that fires a pistol caliber cartridge. Though chambered in rounds like 9mm and .45 ACP, these are originally devised for the civilian market and usually feature barrels at least 16 inches long (or stick a pistol brace on and make the barrel shorter). Thus they're not submachine guns. These fill a niche between rifles and pistols, being smaller than most rifles but having a longer barrel than a pistol, and serve weaker and more sensitive shooters better than rifles.
- Personal Defense Weapons (PDWs) - PDWs are compact, selective fire, magazine fed firearms. Though they share the compact size of submachine guns, PDWs use intermediate cartridges instead of pistol caliber cartridges. The FN P90 in 5.7x28mm and the H&K MP7 in 4.6x30 were the first created in the 90s, designed to fulfill a NATO request for compact firearms that could penetrate body armor. Despite neither being chosen by militaries, PDWs have become popular among special forces and special law enforcement groups.
- Bullpups - Bullpups are firearms with actions behind the triggers. This creates a shorter weapon overall compared to standard configuration rifles with the same length barrels, meaning that muzzle velocity and accuracy are maintained whilst reducing the overall size and weight. The biggest detriment of the system lies in the fact the triggers are almost always worse than their standard configuration counterparts (though not as bad as some people will insist).
- Any Other Weapon (AOW) - AOW is a "catch all" category set about in the 1934 NFA. They're defined as "any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged..." For the most part this refers to improvised firearms and disguised firearms, like pen guns, cane guns, and umbrella guns.
- Destructive Device (DD) - DD applies to large bore firearms chambered for larger than .50 Cal with the exception of shotguns with sporting purposes. Muzzle loaders are also exempted from consideration as DDs. It effectively regulates ownership of large anti-tank rifles like the Boys' Tank Rifle and the PTRD as well as some shotguns that were reclassified as combat shotguns and made DDs.
- A "Pistol" - Yeah, I had a double take too. Thanks, ATF.

4 - The Government And You

4.1 - The Laws that Define U.S.

Server lores in New Dawn/Gateway have always taken place in the United States of America in varying points of its history. In addition to this, it is one of the few countries in the world by the 2010s where widespread civilian gun ownership is possible (others include Canada, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland). As such it is important (particularly for admins and GMs) to know and understand the major firearm laws as they were enacted and how that affects which firearms would be commonly available, depending on time and location. For these reasons, focus in this section centers on firearm laws in the United States

Only major federal laws will be listed below. Each of the fifty states in the Union can institute their own firearm laws so long as they do not infringe federal laws on the subject. Thus, where a character lived alongside those around them can influence what they know and how they interpret firearms. States and people vary wildly in whether they support firearm ownership. Some, like California, Oregon, and New York are very restrictive towards what firearms their residents may own. Others, like Texas, Montana, and Kentucky are more open to firearms ownership. On one final note, a character's home state doesn't necessarily guarantee their beliefs towards firearms. A Californian can be pro-gun and a Texan can be anti-gun. It's just not as likely.

The Second Amendment - 1791 - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." This amendment is the legal basis for the average American citizen's ability to purchase firearms. There are multiple possible interpretations that your characters can take on the Second Amendment. These can range from arguing that it should be struck from the Bill of Rights entirely to others believing that it dictates an individual should have access to whatever arms or destructive devices, and any interpretation in between.

National Firearms Act (NFA) - 1934 - The first major national gun control legislation, the National Firearms Act came about following a slew of gang related crimes and violence throughout the 1920s, specifically the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. The NFA imposed a tax on the manufacture, sale, and transport of certain firearms listed in the law. Of relevance:
- NFA Restricted items - the NFA imposed a $200 tax stamp on the purchase of fully automatic firearms, short barrel shotguns (sawn offs), short barrel rifles, and suppressors. This same tax remains today at the same price. After filing the paperwork and paying the tax, the ATF will run rigorous background checks before deciding whether or not you are eligible to own the specific item. If successful, it is registered under your name in the NFA registry.
- Destructive Devices (DD) - Added to NFA in 1968. Like other items covered by the NFA, one must pay a $200 dollar tax stamp to own one and go through all the paperwork, background checks, and registry associated with it. DDs cover two different classes.
> Explosive devices intended as weaponry like grenades, bombs, missiles. (Note that if you want to LEGALLY purchase five grenades for example, you would have to pay a $200 tax for EACH GRENADE. Quite expensive, needless to say.)
> Any firearm with a bore over 0.50 inch (.50 Cal) with exceptions for firearms with sporting purpose (like most shotguns).
- Any Other Weapon (AOW) - Generally refers to disguised weapons that one wouldn't expect to be a firearm, such as pen guns, cane guns, and umbrella guns. In 1960, the transfer tax for AOWs was changed to $5 instead of 200.

Gun Control Act (GCA) - 1968 - Repealed and replaced the 1938 Federal Firearms Act. This bill came about following high profile assassinations and murders in the 1960s, including the Kennedies and Dr. King. The GCA banned the import (but not the sale) of guns that have "no sporting purpose", required all newly manufactured or imported firearms to have a serial number, and imposed restrictions on for those purchasing handguns (must be 21), prohibited felons, and the mentally ill.

Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) - 1986 - Following the GCA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) were given wide latitude on enforcement of regulations on holders of Federal Firearm Licenses (FFL), which some used to abuse several FFL holders. FOPA enacted widespread protection for gun owners.
- Prohibition of a national registry of dealer records
- Limited ATF inspections to once per year (unless reasonable cause for suspicion or multiple infractions)
- Allowing licensed dealers to sell firearms at "gun shows" in their state
- Loosened regulations on sale and transfer of ammunition.
The bill also codified some gun control measures, including the Hughes Amendment, prohibiting civilian ownership and transfer of machine guns made after May 19th 1986.

Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act - 1993 - Enacted after White House press secretary James Brady was permanently disabled from an injury during an attempt on President Reagan's life. This law established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), used to see whether or not a person committed notable misdemeanors or crimes and if they were eligible to purchase firearms or not. In conjunction with this, it requires any gun sale from a licensed dealer/manufacturer/importer to complete a background check on a customer before he or she can purchase the firearm.

Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act - 1994 - Commonly known as the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) and was a temporary prohibition that took effect between September 1994 and September 2004. This law banned the manufacture and sale of a large number of semi automatic firearms capable of accepting detachable box magazines and possessing certain features. Passed with a ten year sunset provision, it expired in 2004. For many gun companies and gun owners, the AWB was more of an annoyance, with many firearms bought prior to the ban grandfathered (if bought prior to ban, they can keep it) and gun companies capable of selling semi automatic arms that didn't include the bannable features.

District of Columbia v. Heller & McDonald v. City of Chicago - 2008 and 2010 - DC v. Heller was the first case where SCOTUS affirmed explicitly that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to keep and bear arms and that the right exists independently of a militia. McDonald v. Chicago established that the Second Amendment applies to all states via the 14th Amendment, making outright prohibition of handguns in any U.S. city or state inadmissible.

4.2 - Legally Acquiring a Gun

Though the process of buying a gun is relatively simple, like other laws, it can vary from state to state. In general though, the gun purchasing process is fairly smooth. Following federal law, a person must be at least 18 years of age to purchase a rifle or shotgun and 21 years of age to purchase a handgun. If you are a green card holder (permanent resident), you can purchase a firearm. Major disqualifications include being a current or former convicted felon, formally ruled as a mental defective, or an illegal immigrant.

There are two main legal methods of purchasing a firearm, either through a commercial dealer (FFL) or through a private party.

Commercial Dealer (Gun Stores and FFL Holders) - Federal law requires the dealer to run a background check on anyone purchasing a firearm and record all sales. When conducting a background check, a customer's information is sent to through NICS, a system run by the FBI to track whether people have committed misdemeanors or felonies or have other issues that prohibit one from firearm purchase. When one purchases a firearm for the first time, the process will be longer as a file must be created for that person.

When purchasing a firearm, the dealer will take your driver's license. This is needed to run the background check. In addition, you'll be required to fill out a Firearms Transaction Record, or Form 4473, which includes a slew of information such as your full name, address, and a list of yes or no questions that help NICS in deciding whether you're allowed to purchase a firearm from a gun store. If you're curious, the form is available here.

If you fail your background check for any reason, the dealer cannot sell you the firearm. In rare circumstances, NICS may have the incorrect information and can be disputed, but this is extremely unlikely. Nothing really happens to you legally if you fail a background check, but you will not be able to purchase a firearm from a dealer. If you pass your background check, you are allowed to purchase the firearm in question from the dealer without issue.

Private Party Sale - Any sale made by a non-FFL holding party falls under the term "Private Party Sale" or "Private Transaction". These parties could range from an old collector selling his guns to a friend selling a rifle to another friend. There is no federal law stating that these parties must run a background check. However a number of states require background checks on firearm sales, regardless of whether it's private or not. Generally this involves going to an FFL holder and having them run a background check, essentially following the same process as purchasing a firearm from a commercial dealer.

In states that don't require background checks on private sales, it's still generally encouraged that the seller create a document that acknowledges the sale occurred, with signature from both the seller and the buyer. This can help the seller should the firearm be found used in a crime later on. Otherwise, a private sale is as simple as buying something at a garage sale. The buyer pays the seller and the seller transfers the firearm to the buyer, completing the transaction.

Gifting and Inheriting Firearms - The other common method of acquiring firearms is often as a gift or through inheritance. If a father is buying a son a firearm as a gift and they live in the same state, there is no federal law prohibiting him from walking into his son's home/room and presenting it to him. However, gifting a gun to someone in a different state means you'll have to go through a transfer with an FFL. That means, like when purchasing a gun, filling out a Form 4473 and conducting a background check. Furthermore, some states require a background check, even when trying to give a gift.

Inheritance of firearms following the death of a family member or loved one follows the same process. If in the same state, so long as the recipient is not prohibited from owning firearms, he or she can generally merely pick up the firearm and it falls under his or her name. If the recipient lives in another state, the firearm must be transferred through an FFL. Exceptions are with legal NFA items (Machine guns, suppressors, etc) which are more complicated, and states that again, require transfer through an FFL for any firearms transaction. Both of these methods are the only legal ways an American citizen under the age of 18 or 21 can own a long arm or handgun respectively.

4.3 - Illegally Acquiring a Gun

But let's say you're barred from acquiring a firearm for whatever reason. Maybe you've done time, maybe you're too young to get your hands on one from the store. But for one reason or another, you need a gun. Could be a pistol, could be a revolver, maybe even a rifle, but you need one. Well, here are some of the more common methods of acquiring a firearm for yourself if your character happens to be a bit of a scoundrel. Keep in mind, generally criminals opt or smaller firearms like handguns as they're easily concealed and can be quickly drawn if needed.

Straw Purchase - These are one of the most common methods criminals acquire firearms. These are when one person buys a firearm under their own name with the intention to give it to another person. Often times these other people are criminals or those who for one reason or another cannot pass a background check. Thus they need to use someone who's "clean" to obtain the firearm. Intentionally lying on the Form 4473 is a federal felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5000 fine whilst the person pushing the straw purchase can be charged with conspiracy to violate federal law and further punishments.

Private Sale - As covered above, privates sales are not regulated at the federal, nor at the state level in many states. As such, criminals may use it to acquire firearms from average law-abiding citizen intent on selling a firearm to a lawful buyer. Though it is illegal for "prohibited peoples" to purchase firearms through private parties, it won't stop many from attempting to do so. Some may even attempt to take the gun during the transaction, turning the private sale into a theft.

"Borrowing" or Buying from Friend/Family - Unlike straw purchases, this is when a prohibited person 'borrows' or purchases a firearm from a friend or family that legally bought it for their own intents and purposes. It is the equivalent of theft and abuse of private sale respectively. Often times friends, families, neighbors and others that are closer are less likely to know the prohibited person is a felon or intends to break the law with the firearms they purchased from them. Because of the pre-established bond, they're more likely to go through with lending or selling a firearm to the prohibited person. (A person borrowing a gun may also intend on returning it after using it in a crime).

Theft - Naturally some prefer foregoing the hassle of acquiring a firearm through more somewhat legal channels. Why not just take a firearm? Firearm theft can come in a wide variety of forms. Many firearm owners are lazy and leave their firearms in unlocked vehicles. A person can merely swoop in, take the gun and walk away. Others may attempt breaking into a gun store, generally at night. Though some criminals have tried to hold gun stores up during hours, it carries a high risk and often ends with the felon injured if not dead. Breaking in at night carries its own challenges, but are generally tied more to getting in and out before law enforcement can arrive.

Connections/Network - Why deal with all the minutia and danger? That's what friends are for. If your character is in a criminal group or gang, members may be given a firearm based on their role in the gang. These will vary based on what the group/gang specializes in and general wealth. The Russian Mafia will be able to get ahold of fully automatic arms and explosive devices with ease, whereas a Crip or Blood are more likely to have a cheaper semi automatic pistol.

Black Market - Of course, getting one's hands dirty trying to get a gun is more work than some need. A 2019 DOJ survey found 43% of criminals got their firearms from the black market, accounting for the largest method of firearms acquisition for criminals. The black market serves all tastes, with a variety of illegal gun dealers catering to the various price points and needs of their customers. Everything has a price. From modern military equipment and hardware down to the simple yet robust sawn off shotgun, if your character has the money and connections, then acquiring a firearm is the least of your concerns.

4.4 - An American Gun Culture

Understanding modern day American gun culture rests upon understanding the founding of the nation and how it became what it is today. Unlike Europe and Asia which were already largely settled, as the United States grew in age and size, many settlers found themselves amidst nature. Though there was some human conflict, much of the dangers lay in fighting against nature's beasts and the elements. From this, the gun arose as an essential tool along the American frontier.

As a British colony, American colonists generally had to import flintlock rifles, used for hunting wild life and self defense against animals and Native American raiders (if on the frontier). Local arms production was very small. Muskets were considered military arms and were generally regulated throughout the colonies, though that didn't stop some from purchasing or making some for themselves. Overall, flintlock firearms became a necessity for the average colonist, often used to keep a family from starving.

Following the French and Indian War and Great Britain's increasing authority against American colonists, underlying resentment and a perceived need for self governance began to spread. Americans protested repeated tax levies against them and the increasing powers British Governors were given as some colonists grew increasingly rowdy. The American Revolutionary War drilled the importance of an armed, independent populace. When the Bill of Rights was ratified, it included the Second Amendment, detailing the right of American citizens to bear arms. Over the next century, gun ownership rose alongside the population as it expanded westward, and firearms grew a massive following.

Soldier or rebel, sheriff or outlaw, man or woman, white or black, the gun was the great equalizer for all. It was during this period that America's own burgeoning gun industry matured, with companies like Smith & Wesson, Colt, Winchester, and Remington becoming household names. Revolvers, repeating rifles, and shotguns, carried by settlers and cowboys alike, were iconic and well loved. Romanticism of the "Wild West" caught the public perception like wildfire, and at the center of it all were the men and guns that "won the West". As commercial and military markets competed with one another, a period of rapid technological innovation in firearms design and development sprang forward.

Despite the end of continental expansion, the turn of the 20th century failed to curb American enthusiasm and love with the firearm; some may say it grew even stronger. Experimentation and innovation, competitive shooting sports, the growing military surplus market and engaging in military conflict inspired numerous generations of shooters through the years. America even glamorized the gun's more insidious use, glorifying gangsters and crime in literature film, and music. Always at their side, the reliable firearm. It was from this that America began slowly shifting in its view on firearms. Though many continued defending the firearm and its viability as a tool for hunting, sport, defense and more, others pointed out that certain firearms did not meet any definitions. When the National Firearms Act came into being in 1934, it laid out a list of arms that, though legal to own, would be regulated by the federal government.

Since the NFA passed, American perceptions towards firearms continued to shift on what should and shouldn't be legally possible to own. Gun crime persisted as the central reason of contention. Gun control and gun rights became the names for those for and against restricting access to firearms respectively. Supporters on both sides argued the tenets of why their viewpoint was better than the other both on the floors of Congress and in public forums. Growing media and increased interconnectivity has also affected and shifted how people perceive the matter. Both federal and state legislation have been passed supporting different aspects of each side.

In the modern day, the topic of firearm use and ownership has become contentious for many, some not even wanting to discuss the topic in public. Despite this, gun owners have never been more spoilt for choice, with numerous options and types to divulge various interests in the field. Firearm sales continued rising into the 21st century for numerous reasons. However in the wake of this, gang related crime, and highly publicized shootings, perceptions on guns grew more and more mixed following throughout the 1990s and into the 2010s. Never before has the topic of firearms been so problematic, and many continue asking how these issues can be solved.

American gun culture began before there even was an America. The gun has been a part of the people for over two hundred years and has been center to the three American creation myths: the nation's birth with the American Revolution, the nation's expansion with the Wild West, and America's rebirth as a superpower following the Allied victory in World War II. The gun played a central part in all of these myths, codifying itself as a part America's culture from its infancy into maturity. The gun was there for survival, it was there for protection, and it was there for recreation. It has seen people through times of war and times of peace. Though attempts could be made to shift and change American gun culture through legislation and movements, it would take decades to completely change how people perceive it, and even then, it's unlikely it would fade away.

4.5 - Of Guns and Men: Gun Owner Archetypes

Though there are numerous types of gun owners, some are more common than other. These archetypes are common enough you could make those alignment charts for them. As this also ties back into the earlier "why do you want a gun?" section, you can use this section if you're having a hard time thinking up your character's connection to firearms.

- Hunter/Outdoorsman - Exactly what it says on the tin, these people purchase their firearms almost exclusively for hunting purpose. They'll typically own several wood stocked and blued rifles or shotguns, though in recent years it's not uncommon they'll own an AR-15. For these people, the gun is a tool, through and through. Hunters have been on the decline over the last few decades, but continue to persist as a voice in the community.
- Mechanics/Gearheads - These are people that just like futzing with machines. If they didn't have access to guns, they'd be working on cars, watches, or just tinkering and building random shit. Guns are just what they decided to focus on. The "Just learn how it works" group would also fall into this category.
- History Nerds - Milsurp collectors, reenactors, and many forms of private collector fall into this group. It's not about the actual useful quality of the firearm, but its significance to historical events.
- Collectors - The whole point of this group is finding the most strange, unique, or hard-to-find object possible. Similar to the Mechanics, they likely would have found something else to collect had firearms not been an option, but they decided (for whatever reason) to go that direction. Sometimes overlaps with the history nerd.
- Competitiors/Sportsmen - This group is fairly self-explanatory. Shooting is a sport or plays a fundamental part of it, whether that's precision riflery, trap shooting, hunting, or practical drills, the firearm is a tool for competing or for taking part in a sport for personal pleasure.
- Pragmatists - This group has a reason to believe that they need a firearm as part of their regular life. Such individuals may live in an isolated location with dangerous wildlife, regularly venture to such locations, live in an area with poor police response (or high threat), or any number of other reasons. Pragmatists are usually characterized by owning few firearms, but having purchased them for specific needs. This is not to be confused with the famous Prepper.
- The Liberal Gun Owner - The United States is a diverse place and you've got a lot of different people. Though most people associate firearms ownership with conservative white men, many don't follow this mold. Modern liberals insist on firearms ownership for a number of reasons, including a need to defend oneself in increasingly hostile environments. Others insist firearms are an essential right.
- Brass Goblin/Reloading Monkey - Older men in the field with reloading equipment, many of them don't shoot very often, instead going to the range and scouring other shooters' lanes for brass casings after they've fired. After collecting the brass, they'll return to their garage and reload their own cartridges, either using them for their own purposes or, more often, selling them off to other shooters. Free mats pl0x.
- Redneck Barbarian - There's a reason stereotypes come about. When most non-gun owners think of gun owners, the dumb redneck that downs a Miller Lite before doing stupid, negligent shit with their firearms is often what comes to mind. In reality, these people are far rarer than people realize, but since their idiotic shenanigans gain numerous views online, that's all many see. Detriment to both law abiding gun owners and society in general.
- The Fudd - Fudds are gun owners that only believe firearms should be owned for hunting and sporting purposes. Besides certain older semi-automatic firearms (M1911s, M1 Garands, Auto 5s), many deride others for purchasing semi autos, especially if they feature a black finish or polymer parts. They're a rather pretentious bunch and generally mocked by the majority of other gun owners.
- Self-Reliant Fantasy - These are the guys that believe that with just their rifle and their own wherewithal, they could survive in the wilderness and living off the land. Though some of these people are actually capable of this, there's a reason why it's generally considered a fantasy. Just a guy, a gun, and the open woods. What could go wrong, right? Hunters and Preppers may also fall into this category.
- "Boogaloo LARPers" - You've seen them. Those guys that think they look cool walking around in full gear, spouting nonsense about the "coming civil war". Though the Second Amendment details armed individuals to combat against tyrannical government, often times these people are more often in playing "Gucci army dress up", more focused on what they're wearing and whether it looks cool rather than focusing on actual training that would be useful if the "Boogaloo" were to actually happen.

4.6 - Myths and Misconceptions

Unsurprisingly there are many myths and misconceptions about firearms. Despite being a relatively simple tool, because of a slew of misinformation, misremembering, and in some cases misrepresentation, incorrect information about firearms may be passed along. There are numerous different myths and misconceptions, but larger and more well known ones will be listed below. These will be divided by their origin: Politically Based, Gun Community, Military, and Entertainment Media (Movies/Video Games). Know that these do not account for all of these, there are plenty more to dig up.

Your character could believe some of these myths. In fact, depending on the character it's very likely they do believe some of these myths. Don't be afraid to incorporate some of these. A kid that only watches movies and video games will get their gun knowledge from that. So yeah, even if it's wrong, add it to your character. It can help make them more real.

Politically Based Gun Misconceptions

Politicians are masters of speech and manipulation, no matter what the topic on hand is. It just so happens that firearms are something that people on both sides of the political spectrum get a lot more emotional over than say, farming tax breaks. Sometimes it's easier to plant ideas in people's heads to affect how they perceive something. These can range from changing the specific wording or name of an item for a specific group of people to manipulating information to get a certain response from people.

Often times, these are misconceptions perpetuated by people that don't understand how firearms work. Most of the time, people don't mean any harm by them; they're merely regurgitating what they're told. However, these phrases can make gun-control supporters seem ignorant to firearm owners and others their supporters.

- "Spicy Terminology" - Both Gun-Control and Gun-Rights activists use a slew of words that change how people perceive a certain aspect of firearms. Gun-Control terms are more likely to use terms that appeal to emotion.A semi-automatic rifle may be an "Assault Weapon", a detachable box magazine may be a "high capacity magazine", and a small collection of firearms may be referred to as an "arsenal". Much of the language used by gun control activists is used to paint certain aspects of firearms in a scary light.
- "Second Amendment is About Hunting" - Members supporting Gun-Control will sometimes say that the Second Amendment is about hunting. The Second Amendment makes no mention on the topic of hunting; it instead states that individuals have the right to bear arms to defend against a tyrannical government.
- "Bump Stocks Turn a Gun Full Auto" - Bump stocks became a household name after the Las Vegas shooting. Bump stocks do not effectively turn a rifle into a full auto weapon and offers none of the benefits that a true fully automatic weapon has. (Furthermore one can bump fire most semi-automatics without the aid of a bump stock anyway.)
- "Cop-Killer Bullets" - An older gun control myth that returns every few years, and is applied to any ammunition that supposedly has the ability to penetrate armor or refers to hollow point ammunition. Ignoring the fact that hollow points are the complete opposite to real armor piercing ammunition, it's a term made to sound scary to those not in the know.
- "Glocks Can Pass Metal Detectors" - Another older gun control myth, this one died out by the late 2000s, though some continue to believe it. Glocks and other modern handguns often use a lot of polymer, leading to some believing it can be easily snuck past metal detectors. However, the actual barrel and action are metal, meaning this is impossible.
- "The Gun Show Loophole" - This is another name for acquiring a gun through a private sale without a background check. However, it's a misleading name as the vast majority of sellers at shows are licensed dealers that will run a background check, not to mention many gun shows offer free background checks for private sales. This more aptly applies to private sales outside gun shows.
- "Runaway Guns" - Some people believe that guns have a chance of going off on their own. This is untrue, even in older firearms and antiques. Unless something pulls the trigger and the firing pin strikes the cartridge of a round, it's not going to go off. Note: Though some firearms will go off when dropped if a round is in the chamber, this is still an uncommon issue, and only possible when someone is handling the firearm.
- "Suppressors Make Guns Silent." - Although suppressors do make a gun quieter, the gunshot is still actually very audible. Suppressors of the type most gun-control supporters describe are extremely rare and not available on the civilian market, such as the Welrod or the DeLisle Carbine.
- "A Gun Can be Shipped Straight to Your Door" - This is untrue. Though one can buy firearms online, these must be shipped and picked up at an FFL dealer's shop. The only general exceptions are C&R License (FFL) holders, that are allowed to have guns older than 50 years old or with collecting value shipped straight to their homes or antiques, which are firearms made prior to 1898 and not considered guns by the ATF.
- "It's a White/Right Wing Thing" - Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of liberal and non-white gun owners out there. Male and female gun owners alike. Like any other person, a desire or interest in firearms can stem from numerous sources, from a simple "they're pretty cool" to a "I need to protect myself and my family. Organizations like the Pink Pistols (focused on supporting LGBTQ gun owners) and the Socialist Rifle Association (supporting many left leaning gun owners) have made huge strides in the past few decades.
- "Look at This Country" - Often times people will compare the United States to another country when discussing the subject of firearms. "Look at Australia/Japan/etc and how they deal with firearms." However, this is a fallacy, since the cultures, populations, size, and numerous other factors between the US and these countries differ to widely to really assume something that works elsewhere would work in the U.S.
- "Semi Auto = Full Auto" - Many Americans have a misconception that semi-automatic and fully-automatic firearms are the same. They are not. One fires one shot after each trigger pull whilst the other can expend all the rounds in a belt or magazine with a single trigger pull.
- "AR = Assault Rifle" - Some Americans believe the AR in "AR-15" stands for Assault Rifle. Though it's understandable how this idea would come about, it actually stands for "Armalite Rifle 15", being the fifteenth rifle designed by the Armalite company in the 1950s.

On the other side of the coin, there are some myths and misconceptions that those in support of gun-rights throw around that only serve to make them just as ignorant as when the other side makes the same mistakes.

- "Spicy Terminology" - Both Gun-Control and Gun-Rights activists use a slew of words that change how people perceive a certain aspect of firearms. Gun-Rights people are more likely to create terms and items that are more "technically legal" and appeal to proof and logic. A semi-automatic rifle may be a "Modern Sporting Rifle" and they'll point out the difference between rifle stocks and pistol braces, bump stocks, or the bullet button.
- "Obviously It's Mental Health" - Something that older gun-rights supporters will often say in, particularly after shootings. They'll diminish the problems that a gun allows, instead attacking mental health as the sole reason for shootings or suicides. Instead, this only further stigmatizes those with psychiatric disorders as dangerous or violent. Though mental health may play a part, the gun itself and numerous other factors play a role in shootings and why they happen.
- "Good Guy With a Gun" - The idea that "a good guy with a gun" will always be around to stop a shooting. Truth of the matter is that while there are some good men, there are also plenty of bad men, including those itching for any chance to use "justifiably" use their firearms on others.
- "An Armed Society is a Polite Society" - Ties into a GGWG, this is the idea that a society with more guns will lead to less crime. Overall studies show that this isn't true. Whilst in some communities it may work, the U.S. is a diverse place with many peoples and personalities, and usually this mantra just doesn't work.
- "Sheepdog Mentality" - A generally dangerous worldview where a gun owner (usually conceal carry) believes that they must "protect the flock" from danger. They view others as sheep and themselves as the sheepdog, and usually desire dangerous situations where they can get their rocks off "saving" people.
- "Constitutionalists" - Those people that believe that government and law should be limited to what is explicitly stated in the American Constitution and Bill of Rights, despite the fact the Founding Fathers purposely wrote much of it in a vague manner, future proofing it. For these people, any gun control law is an infringement of the Second Amendment and must be repealed.

"Fuddlore", and Other Gun Myths Brought to You by the Gun Community

In its loosest definition, a Fudd, a name derived from the caricature of Elmer Fudd from Looney Toons, is slang for "a gun owner who believes guns are only for hunting or sporting and treat 'non-sporting' firearms like pistols and semiautomatic rifles and those who use them with contempt." They are considered the out of touch boomers of the gun community. While this is a position to take, many Fudds' reputation for spouting erroneous myths, stories, and sometimes outright lies, often referred to as "fuddlore," does not help their credibility.

- "Stopping Power" and ".45 ACP" - Practically a meme, many older boomers stand by the idea that any handgun smaller than .45 ACP won't have the power to stop a potential threat. Ties into a love for M1911s.
- "TWO WORLD WARS" - Also now a meme, fudds love the M1911 and profess that it must be the best pistol in the world because it's in .45 ACP and has "been through two world wars". It's a good handgun, but that doesn't mean it's without its flaws.
- "The AK-47 is Indestructible" - AK-47s are not indestructible and they will malfunction if the action gets too dirty.
- "Glocks: Plastic Fantastic or Hand Grenade" - Some people believe the Glock is the most reliable handgun in the world, others believe that it will blow up in your hands like a grenade. Neither are true, it's frankly a very average handgun with a huge aftermarket to modify it to whatever your need may be. The grenade myth stems from early models that would blow up, but those issues have been fixed for decades.
- "Colt is a Reputable Manufacturer" - Since the '80s, Colt's quality control has dropped whilst their prices have remained high, particularly with their AR15s. Fudds still revere the company, but most gun owners know that Colt's modern offerings can be had for far cheaper from other companies.
- "5.56 it Too Powerful/Too Weak" - Some people believe that 5.56/.223 will practically blow away anything it hits, other belive that it wouldn't be able to kill small game or vermin. It's fairly effective against most small to medium game and can be used to good effect on large game.
- "Don't Have to Aim a Shotgun" - A misconception that because buckshot or birdshot spreads, if the gun is pointed in the general direction of the target, something will hit it. Though not technically wrong, you're far more likely to miss when not properly aiming your shotgun.
- "Pumping a Shotgun Will Scare Attackers Away" - Pumping a shotgun may scare some people away, but don't think it will scare everyone away. The only thing that's guaranteed is that an attacker now knows where you are, that you have a shotgun, and that you're armed, and will react accordingly.
- "Bolt Actions are Inherently More Accurate than Semi Autos" - Not always true.
- "Precision German Engineering" - Two variations: WWI/WWII and HK. The first relates to how some people believe that German weaponry and technology during the World Wars was superior to any other nations (even though generally it wasn't, and when it was there were many caveats). The second refers to German firearms companies, usually Heckler & Koch, whose products are seen as the creme de la creme of the firearms market, despite the fact that for the cost they command, one can get something of near exact quality for far cheaper. Essentially, these people will pay thousands for name brand.
- "It's Easy to Make the AR15 Full Auto" - Some fudds will insist you can "shave down a piece" in the fire control group (the trigger parts) and that will make it full auto; this isn't true. Furthermore, conspiring to create a machine gun is already a chargeable offense; actually going through with it is even worse.

On the other side of the spectrum are "Mall Ninjas", inexperienced and overenthusiastic gun owners who pretend to be seasoned operators and experts on firearms, particularly those of a tactical nature. The term stems from an old forum thread where a mall cop LARPed being a Tier 1 Special Forces Operator, making a mockery of himself in the process. Mall Ninjas are obsessed with tactical style weapons, accessories, and equipment solely because they look cool or they saw it in a movie or video game, not taking into account the item's practicality.

- "Speed is More Important than Accuracy" - Some mall ninjas insist that being able to pump out rounds at a fast pace is better than accurate fire. "Spray and pray". All it really amounts to is wasting more ammunition.
- "Yes, I DO Need All This" - Mall Ninjas will repeatedly try to justify their poor and tasteless spending habits. This is often without actually learning how to properly use what they've bought.
- ".300 BLK/6.5 Grendel/.578 Myass Will Replace 5.56" - Every few years ago, a new cartridge is released and sometimes is reviewed by the military to succeed the NATO calibers already adopted. Some, including many mall ninjas, will insist that a new caliber cartridge will supplant 5.56x45, but they've all been wrong so far. Whilst these cartridges may be popular in small niche gun communities, they never reach as widespread appeal.
- "Need Plates that Can Stop .50 BMG" - Mall ninjas have a habit of buying gear that they have no conceivable reason of needing other than hypothetical situations (that are likely never to happen).
- "Expensive is Better" - Mall ninjas drop cash on expensive things like radios, plate carriers, optics, and accessories, but almost never effectively learn how to use them. It's all about the 'gram.

"But Drill Sergeant Told Me...": Military Gun Myths

Though the military does a lot of things well, it's a big organization. Rumors fly fast, and sometimes an older drill sergeant will pass on some incorrect info that a private will be a bit too indulgent in. Maybe something that was true decades prior has changed or been resolved in the modern day, yet the memory of such a thing persists and is retold over and over. Unfortunately, often times they spread back into the normal gun community once a serviceman retires, so a lot of these overlap.

- "The M16 is a Piece of Shit." - Stems from the initial flaws of the M16 during the Vietnam War, many veterans have passed on this information on. Though most people today understand that the M16/AR15 platform has greatly improved since the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, some people continue to insist any iteration of the gun is bad.
- "The AK Isn't Accurate" - Stems from the Vietnam War onwards. The AK pattern rifle is by no means inaccurate when shooting within its usual service range up to ~300 meters. The issue more often comes from U.S. experience fighting soldiers and insurgents poorly trained in fighting and on the platform. Firing on full auto and inaccurately has given the rifle a reputation among soldiers that it has terrible accuracy.
- "5.56 is Designed to Wound." - Stems from initial adoption the 5.56x45 intermediate cartridge. Though it greatly increased a soldier's ability to fire in full auto, many felt it wasn't as powerful as a full power cartridge. Many rumors flew through the military, principally that the round was not designed to kill but to wound and incapacitate enemy combatants. Though it may be more likely to leave an enemy alive, the infantryman has more ammo to successfully kill the enemy.
- "5.56 Will Bounce Off Bone." - Stems from initial adoption of 5.56 and comparisons to .22LR. On the flipside, you have soldiers that believe 5.56 will bounce off bones and cause more damage as it shoots through the body. This draws upon both the round's similar size to .22LR (and the same misconception that it would bounce off bones) and the fact that 5.56 rounds tended to embed in bodies instead of leaving an exit wound.
- "The M9 is a Piece of Shit/.45 > 9mm" - Stems from the adoption of the M9 in 1986. After the M1911 was replaced by the M9, many took numerous issues with the new service pistol, including the fact it shot 9x19 Parabellum and supposedly lacked the stopping power to drop a man. Issues were exacerbated as the pistol supply suffered wear and tear over the years and going through malfunctions.

"I Saw it in COD Though!": Movie and Video Game Myths

- "Bullets are Lasers" - Seen in most video games involving guns, many do not depict ballistics and bullet drop. Instead bullets always go where the reticle is, no matter the range; some people take this to heart.
- "What's the Deal With Recoil?" - Generally seen in movies and television, actors are seen in movies shooting guns with either no or very little recoil, even when using blanks. Actors that have trained with guns (like Keanu Reeves) can more realistically act like they're affected by recoil.
- "Almost Lethal Weapons" - Seen in movies, video games, and television when a character merely shrugs off bullet wounds and/or quickly recovers. Some people misinterpret how severe gunshot wounds can be because of this.
- "One Shot, One Kill" - Video Games are particularly guilty of this. The idea that one bullet will instantly kill a target. Not all cartridges are the same and people rarely die instantly unless a vital organ such as the brain or the heart is hit. Otherwise, it will generally take some time for a person to die without first aid.
- "Guns are Hot" - In film and TV, you often see actors grab parts of guns that if they had in real life, would leave them screaming and their hand at least somewhat burned. Don't grab a barrel after it's been shot, please.
- "Infinite Ammo/Magazines" - Entertainment media tends to show protagonists shooting countless rounds without needing to reloading. This is also an issue in video game where the player character carries far more ammunition than one logically would or can reload as many magazines as they want.
- "Guns/Ammo is Heavy" - You're not carrying a minigun and you're not casually lugging around +500 rounds of ammunition and magazines on your body. It's heavy and cumbersome.

5 - This Was About Roleplay, Right?

5.1 - Too Long; Didn't Read

In the end this is a roleplaying guide to firearms. Though I personally feel all the information I listed was important, I understand if not all of it was read. As I stated at the beginning of this guide, there are numerous small details regarding firearms knowledge that one can incorporate into their characters. As seen throughout the guide, it can range from their political opinions on firearms possession to knowledge of their operation and how they work.

As it comes down to it, all of that is background flavor for your character. The most important parts will be if they know how to operate a gun, and whether they do so safely. Keep in mind who taught them what they know; if it was an instructor, a grandparent, or someone else with extensive firearms knowledge, your character should have a general grasp of firearms safety at the very least. From there you can decide how skilled they are in shooting. If they're taught by an irresponsible friend or self taught, then their knowledge of safety and firearms use will likely be more middling unless they've been at it for some time.

There are many types of firearms, and each has their own little quirks on how they work. Just cause your character was in the Army or Marines doesn't mean he knows how to operate every single firearm from the get go. Different platforms have their own methods of operation, their malfunctions, and their own benefits. They'll feel different, weigh different, and so on. A modern day soldier handling an M1 Garand may load the rifle incorrectly and have the action slam down on their thumb, a phenomena known as "Garand Thumb". A shooter handling an AK pattern rifle for the first time may not understand that the magazine must be rolled back to load, instead of going straight into the action. Whenever you get a new gun, try to look at how it works, and whether or not your character has not only the book smarts but the street smarts to use it well without practice.

Another major aspect will be how they describe firearms. Even people within the field confuse certain parts of guns or the nomenclature of certain ammunition, so it's fine, and even adds to the roleplay if people on different levels of firearms familiarity interact and discuss the subject with one another. Those working in the military or firearms industry will refer to parts differently from a total newbie or someone who's never fired a gun before. "The shoulder thing that goes up." is famously memed, a reference to gun control media's inability to properly name the shoulder rest found on some firearms. Some characters will laugh or mock others that don't know certain gun terminology, others will correct them, and others will just ignore it and move on with the conversation.

One final thing is roleplaying how people react during and after combat, especially if it's their character's first time using a weapon against another person. Now in the military, soldiers are trained to disassociate the enemy from humans. Though some will crack immediately, others will bury it within, only exposing their emotions when they're alone. Normal civilians and even police officers and criminals don't get that sort of training, and will almost always break down in some form either during or after combat has ended. You see the same thing when first time hunters kill their first animal.

Emotional roleplay in general is something I don't see enough of; if you kill a person, another human being, you're practically guaranteed to be emotionally affected by it. In the case New Dawn/Gateway, killing another person for the first time, zombie or not, should almost NEVER come off as easy. If you see someone shambling towards you in real life, is your first reaction to push them to the ground and cave their skull in? I'd hope not, cause if it is, you're demonstrating some real dangerous signs, buddy. Most people will not engage, instead trying to get away from the situation and find help. Roleplaying evasion and seeking help is the more realistic option, with self defense being a last resort. When it finally comes to that, almost every character should roleplay some way of coming to terms and coping with it. Some will come to terms with it after only a few hours. Others might never reconcile with themselves over it.

Oh, and also, I really, really hate seeing people shrug off the deaths and killings of loved ones. It makes your character seem unhuman. If you had to kill your mother right now to save yourself, I pretty much guarantee the situation would fuck you up mentally. Put yourself in your character's shoes. Roleplay realistically and emotionally, it'll make your scenes better and deepen your investment in your character.

5.2 - Gun Injuries: Do's and Don'ts

Alright, now we're talking 'bout combat wounds cause you lot try to dance around how severe gun wounds generally are to your character. Whilst there's no real way to understand what a gun shot feels like without having gone through it, one can base their responses on what those that have been shot have described it as. Important things to consider are:

The caliber your character is hit with
  • Being hit by .22LR is generally not going to be as lethal or fatal as being hit by 7.62x51 or .50BMG. You can be killed by a single round of .22, naturally, but you're far more likely to survive. It's been described as either a hard slap or a good punch.
  • I'm not going to go into ballistic science and how the wounds .223/5.56 produces may be different than another caliber, but general rule of thumb is that the larger the round, the more damage it does to the body, and the more likely you are to be incapacitated and/or killed.
  • The level of adrenaline running through your body
    • Adrenaline's the magic drug, and it's going to change how you respond to pain. Many combat veterans will say that a firefight is the biggest adrenaline high one can get, and there are cases where those pumped with it will be able to take shots without becoming incapacitated right away and keep on fighting.
      • The pain may be negligible or you may not even feel it. But once that adrenaline fades, you're really going to feel it.
  • Whether your character is wearing ballistic body armor
    • If you're wearing body armor and get shot (and the round doesn't go through), you're almost never just tanking that round and continuing onward. As someone that has been shot by just a round of 9mm whilst wearing body armor, all of that kinetic energy is stopping right there and dispersing it across the vest. This means you're basically transforming a gunshot wound into a blunt trauma wound. The wind will be knocked out of you, you will probably be knocked onto your ass, and you are going to feel like you've been slammed with a baseball bat, full force, where you were hit. (And that was just 9mm).
      • Note that I didn't have any adrenaline pumping through me haha.
    • Whereas without body armor, the round is far more gradually slowing down to a stop or going straight through (which allows the kinetic energy to dissipate), which means you may potentially not go through as much initial pain.
    • Body armor is there to save your life. You will probably be incapacitated for at least a few minutes after taking a hit. But you will be alive.
    • A Guide to NIJ Ballistic Body Armor Classes
      • NOTE that Class III Body armor will generally NOT stop 5.56x45(AR15/M16) or 5.45x39(AK74) at close ranges. It will stop 7.62x51(M14/FAL/G3) or 7.62x39(SKS/AK47/AKM), but because of the velocity of the above rounds, it will not stop these rounds. It is a myth due to the NIJ that's been perpetuated for decades.
      • This visual chart shows modern body armor classes that WILL stop 5.56 or 5.45. Keep this in mind when you're roleplaying ballistic body armor.
  • What's been hit
    • Vital body parts (in the chest usually) or to the head are far more likely to incapacitate or kill a person than a shot to the arm or leg.
    • Artery severage is generally the most dangerous thing that can happen, especially when the man or woman is high on adrenaline, as they may not notice the wound until it's too late. Massive bleeding.

5.3 - Jargon and Lingo

- AK Pattern Rifle - A semi-automatic or fully automatic rifle or carbine based on the original AK-47 designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. The majority of firearms in the world today are AK Pattern rifles. They have a flourishing aftermarket.
- AR Pattern Rifle - A semi-automatic or fully automatic rifle or carbine based on the original AR-15 designed by Eugene Stoner. Basic models can be had for as cheap as 400 dollars on the commercial market and have a huge aftermarket built around them. Called "adult legos" by some.
- Aperture Sight - Iron sight system of aligned markers to assist in aiming. Known as peep-hole sights or peep sights.
- Assault Rifle - Military designation for a selective-fire rifle that uses intermediate cartridges and detachable magazines. Can be fired in both semi and full auto. Almost exclusively available to military and police.
- Assault Weapon - A political term that can change depending on who's using it, but generally refers to semi automatic weapons capable of accepting detachable magazines and a variety of accessories.
- ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm, and Explosives) - Law Enforcment Organization under the DOJ, it's in charge of investigating and preventing the unlawful use, manufacture and possession of firearms and explosions.
- Automatic - Any firearm capable of continuously firing multiple bullets with a single trigger pull.
- Bandolier/Bandoleer - A pocketed belt for holding ammunition, usually slung over the chest. Now rare because most militaries have moved on to using rigs or magazine pouches, but they remain popular for holding shotgun shells or older cartridges.
- Barrel - Long tube shaped part of a firearm from which a bullet is propelled. Can be smoothbore or rifled.
- Bayonet - Any sharp impliment/sword/knife that can be mounted onto a firearm via a bayonet lug.
- Bayonet Lug - Attachment point on a firearm for a bayonet.
- Belt - Ammunition belt that retains and feeds cartridges into a firearm. Almost always used with machine guns.
- Bipod - A supporting device with two legs, they're commonly used on rifles to provide a forward rest and reduce recoil.
- Blank - A cartridge loaded with gunpowder but with no bullet, instead crimped at the case head. Used in film, tv, military exercises, and reenactments.
- Bluing - A chemical process applied to steel to partially protect it from rust, named after the blue-black appearance of the finish. Can be done for both the cosmetic appearance and corrosion resistance.
- Bolt Action - A rifle that must be manually cycled via either a turn bolt or a straight pull.
- Bolt - Part of the firearm that blocks the rear opening and the barrel chamber whilst propellant burns and moves back to load and unload cartridges from the magazine. The extractor and firing pin are common integral parts of the bolt.
- Bullpup - Firearm configuration where the action and magazine are loaded behind the trigger.
- Burst Fire - A form of automatic fire where when the trigger is pulled, a predetermined number of rounds are expended with a single trigger pull. Usually 3 rounds.
- Casing - The containing unit of a cartridge or round, it holds the primer, gunpowder, and projectile.
- Charging Handle - Device on a firearm which is used to load the first round of a semi-automatic firearm. It also cocks the hammer.
- Choke - Tapered constriction of a shotgun's barrel bore at the end of the muzzle, and improve performance and tighten spread of the shot.
- Clip - A metal strip that holds multiple rounds that can be quickly loaded into a firearm or detachable magazine. Used as slang for detachable magazines.
- Double Tap - Military term for firing two shots in rapid succession, usually without reaiming.
- Drum Magazine - A magazine that is cylindrical in shape. Though it holds more rounds than the typical box magazine, they're often far more likely to malfunction.
- Dry Fire - Practicing firing the firearm without ammunition. Pulling the trigger and allowing the hammer to drop without ammunition in the chamber.
- Flash Suppressor - Attachment that either welded or screwed onto the end of a barrel that lets hot air and gas escape from the barrel more easily, making a smaller flash after the bullet leaves the barrel, making sure the shooter isn't blinded by his or her own muzzle flash.
- Folding Stock - A rifle or shotgun stock that can be folded over along the side of the firearm for compact storage.
- Forward Assist - A button found on AR style rifles used to push the bolt carrier forward, particularly when there's a malfunction. Doesn't necessarily work though.
- Fouling - Accumulation of unwanted material on your firearm. Can consist of powder, lubrication residue, or bullet material.
- Gunpowder - Mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate. Used as a propellant in firearm cartridges. Modern firearms use smokeless powder, not traditional black powder.
- Hair Trigger - A trigger that can be pulled with little pressure and a light touch.
- High-Capacity Magazine - A legal term, often refers to any magazine that holds over 10 rounds. Most modern semi-automatic pistols come standard with magazines that hold 15 to 18 rounds; modern semi-automatic rifles come standard with magazines capable of holding 20 or 30 rounds.
- Hollow Point - A bullet with a concave nose designed to expand upon penetrating a solid target, these typically do more internal harm to targets. Will sometimes fragment.
- Keyholing - Refers to end over end tumbling of the bullet which often leaves a keyhole shaped hole in a paper target. This occurs when the bullet isn't sufficiently stabilized by rifling. Can also be affected by the environment as the bullet travels towards its target.
- (MOA) Minute of Angle - Important principle for long range shooting, it's an angular measurement that is used to determine how accurate a firearm is when firing from long distances.
- Muzzle - End of the firearm barrel where the projectile exits
- Muzzle Brake - Device fitted to the muzzle of a firearm to redirect propellant gasses to counter recoil and rise during rapid fire.
- Muzzle Velocity - The speed at which a projectile leaves a gun. it can vary wildly depending on the cartridge and its age, the length of the barrel, the mass of the projectile, and the quality of the propellant.
- Out-of-Battery - Status of a firearm before the action refers to normal firing position. If the firearm doesn't easily return to battery by normal means, it is indicative of a malfunction, typically having to do with the cartridge.
- Picatinny Rail - A standardized mounting platform for optics and accessories.
- Plinking - Informal target shooting done at paper and steel or non traditional targets like can, bottles, et cetera.
- Point Blank - Distance at which a firearm can be aimed and fired without worrying about trajectory. Generally used to mean a distance below 15 meters.
- Rate of Fire (ROF) - Frequency at which firearm can fire projectiles.
- Receiver - Part of firearm that houses operating parts.
- Recoil - Referred sometimes as the gun's "kick", this is the backward force the gun exerts when fired. Typically the larger the cartridge, the more recoil there will be. More weight in a firearm helps reduce recoil.
- Ricochet - When a bullet rebounds, bounce, or skips off of a surface instead of embedding into it.
- Safety - Mechanism on firearms that prevents the gun's trigger from being pulled or the hammer from striking the firing pin, preventing fire. Should be left on until person is ready to fire.
- Saturday Night Special - Term for any inexpensive handgun, especially those that can easily be concealed in a palm or pocket.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun - A shotgun that has had the barrel shortened below the (US) legal 16". One must file for a Short Barrel Shotgun stamp to legally convert it, otherwise it is illegal.
- Scope - A magnifying tube attached atop a rifle or shotgun that allows a shooter to see and aim at distant targets more easily.
- Semi-Automatic - A self-loading firearm, it fires a bullet each time the trigger is pulled. The action is cycled by the gasses propelling the bullet forward, pushing the bolt back, extracting the cartridge, and loading a new one into the chamber.
- Short Barrel Rifle (SBR) - Legal designation in the US referring to a shoulder fired rifled firearm with a barrel less than 16 inches. To legally own one, you must successfully file for a tax stamp with the ATF.
- Short Barrel Shotgun (SBS) - Legal designation in the US referring to a shoulder fired shotgun with a barrel less than 16 inches. To legally own one, you must successfully file for a tax stamp with the ATF.
- Shells - Term to describe shotgun ammunition. Also used as slang for leftover cartridge casings.
- Silencer - Slang for Suppressor. Device attaches to the end of a gun's barrel and reduces the sound of a discharge. Tightly controlled as NFA items.
- Sling - Strap or harness designed to allow a shooter to carry a firearm on his person.
- Snubby - Slang for revolver with a very short barrel. A snubnosed revolver.
- Stopping Power - A term used to describe ammo that can incapacitate a human or animal with very few shots. Typically used in the ".45 ACP vs 9mm" debate, referring either to .45 ACP's capabilities or the 9mm's lack of it.
- Strawman Purchase - When someone else purchases a gun for another person then either gives it to them for a much lower price or for free. Illegal, but hard to regulate in states where Private Party Sales aren't regulated.
- Waiting Period - Legally mandated time between purchasing a firearm and receiving a firearm, it can vary from seven to 25 days. Whether a state has it or not varies from state to state. It's designed to provide the purchaser a "cooling off" period to prevent impulsive act of murder or suicide.
- Zero/Zeroing - Setting up a telescopic or other sight system so point of impact of bullet matches up with the sights at a specific distance.


It's a tool like no other. Easy to pick up, hard to master. With a history spanning a millennium, one may say it finally peaked. Initially honed in wood and steel, it's not afraid to dress in black for the right occasion. It cares not for who uses it. Rich or poor, young or old. Man or woman. Black, yellow, red, or white. Take care of it and it will take care of you.

The Firearm. Fighter. Familiar. Forever Faithful.

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