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Are semi-automatic handguns more dangerous than revolvers?

In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, many of my friends claim that semi-automatic firearms should be banned. They think that people should only be permitted to own revolvers. What are the differences between these two kinds of handguns? Do those differences matter to public policy debates about gun rights and gun control?

Anonymous , 15.01.2013, 20:30
Idea status: completed


Jason, 16.01.2013, 08:09
"Semi-automatic" refers to a class of firearms that fire one round with each press of the trigger loading a fresh round from a supply (magazine) until the supply runs out or the user stops cycling the trigger.

Contrast this with:

"Fully-automatic" which refers to a class of firearms that continue to fire as long as the trigger is held back or the supply of fresh rounds is exhausted.
NOTE: Some fully-automatics have a 'burst mode' in which only a few (usually ~3) rounds are fired with each pull of the trigger.

A Revolver is a type of firearm that stores fresh rounds in a cylinder. After a round is fired, a new round is chambered by the rotation of the cylinder -- hence the name. To reload, the empty brass must be removed from the cylinder and fresh ones inserted.

Contrast this with:
What is often called an "Auto loader" in which fresh rounds are stored in a spring-loaded-magazine or drum. After a round is fired, the spent brass is ejected from the gun and a fresh round, if available, is stripped off the top of the supply and loaded into the chamber ready to be fired at the next press of the trigger.
NOTE: These days, this is what most people think of as being a 'handgun'.

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