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Principles of Firearms

A general description of the components, functions and operating principles of automatic and semi-automatic firearms.
  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
    1. General
    2. Gun Types
    3. Ammunition Components
    4. Gun Components
    5. Feed Components
    6. Miscellaneous
  3. Functions
    1. Feeding
    2. Obturating (Locking)
    3. Firing
    4. Extracting
    5. Ejecting
    6. Cocking
  4. Operating Systems
    1. Inertia (Blowback)
    2. Delayed Inertia (Delayed Blowback)
    3. Short Recoil
    4. Long Recoil
    5. Gas
    6. Gatling
    7. Chain
  5. Bibliography
None of the information in these pages is controlled or restricted in the United States.
This document was prepared in protest of the arbitrary and politically-motivated executive order by President Clinton on April 6, 1998 to ban importation of certain semi-automatic firearms (local copy) which have been inaccurately labelled "assault weapons." True assault rifles are fully automatic military machine guns, not semi-automatic rifles. Importation of these firearms had previously been permitted under earlier restrictions since they met the cosmetic and functional criteria defined by the Department of The Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Since semi-automatic rifles have clear value as constitutionally-protected militia arms and are used in less than 1% of crimes, the order is misguided, ineffective, and will be found unconstitutional. It's worth noting that this ban is an continuation of one begun by President George H. W. Bush in 1989, then expanded in November 1997 by Clinton once again before the most recent encroachment. None of these unilateral bans have been subjected to significant legislative or judicial review. Gun bans cannot reduce crime since according to the Federal Department of Justice 93+% of felons get their guns illegally.

The only concrete guarantee of freedom is that the means of defense of our liberty is broadly distributed among everyday people. The means of force should not be concentrated solely in the hands of an increasingly powerful and intrusive central government. Governments, even the best conceived, by definition exist in opposition to individual liberty. Check out Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, John Locke....