Monday, October 18, 2004

Of Guns & Ammo & Forensics

Last Thursday in my Law & Forensics Class, we got the gun lecture. That is, we went to the Henry Lee Institute in Meriden and learned all about guns and forensic investigations thereof from a very knowledgeable fellow. It was a fascinating class and I learned quite a bit from it. What follows are some of my observations.

We handled a revolver (a .35 I think, maybe a .38?). It was heavier than I anticipated and had a strong pull to cock it. Also, I learned what "double action" means. Single action is cocking the revolver (pulling back the hammer) then firing it. Double action is one in which you can simply pull back the trigger to fire it. There, the action of pulling back the trigger automatically cocks the gun. If you use the single action and do it yourself, the trigger is automatically pulled back the majority of the way so it takes very little additional pull on the trigger to fire the gun.

We also handled 2 semi-automatic pistols, both .22 caliber. I'll just discuss the "normal" size one. Again, it was harder to pull back the slide (?) than I anticipated. That actually took no small amount of effort. The semi-automatic action comes from the fact that you only need to pull back the slide (which automatically pulls back the hammer) for the first bullet. Thereafter, the force of the gun firing causes the slide to retract and the gun to cock, all on its own. Interesting that it's based on the force of the first bullet firing. Also, there were a few safety features on the gun, including one thing on the back of the handle. Unless you applied pressure to that piece, the gun wouldn't fire.

Bullets in a fire do not fire. They do not explode. The instructor was telling us that they've found bullets after a fire where the bullet is right next to the casing, having only come out enough to allow the escape of the gases inside.

Gun powder burns, it does not explode. However, it does burn very well and very fast.

You cannot silence a revolver since the sound, unlike with a semi-automatic pistol, additionally escapes through the sides, the gaps in the revolving action.

99% of the sound (the bang) is from the primer cap, NOT from the gunpowder.

If the bullets leaving the gun travel greater than 1,060 feet/sec, you get a sonic boom and cannot silence the shot.

After the class, I think I can own a gun. Not for anything serious per se, just to have and go shoot at a shooting range. That's not to say I necessary will own one. Merely that I could.

All in all, a very interesting class. I'm glad I took this course.