Single-Shot, Semi-Automatic, and Automatic Weapons

Whoopi Goldberg just doesn’t get it.  In the video below, she says several times, “There’s no reason anyone needs to have an automatic weapon.”  Watch it, now:

What’s wrong with Whoopi’s comment is that her own context clearly indicates she’s including “semi-automatic weapons” in her incorrect use of terminology.  In another segment, she clearly indicated she thinks you can blow up a deer with an AK-47.  Obviously, when it comes to firearms, Whoopi is a Class-A ignoramus, if not merely just an idiot.  With all the outstanding information out there, you have to work fairly hard at remaining ignorant about the difference between single shot, semi-automatic, and automatic.

So, in order to help counter Whoopi’s heavily opinionated lack of knowledge, as well as clear up the volumes of confusion, bad thinking, and worse literature on this subject, let’s review a few terms, organized into three clear divisions based on the action required by the shooter.  Each description is followed by two videos, the first video an example of how slow that class can be, followed by an example of how fast that class can be.  As you will notice, there’s not a lot of difference between the fastest shooters in each class.  In fact, there’s a great deal of speed and accuracy overlaps between classes.

Single shot:  A firearm that requires manual reloading between trigger pulls.  This class of firearms includes single-action (SA) revolvers, bolt-action rifles, lever-and pump-action rifles and shotguns, trapdoor actions, break actions, block actions, muzzle-loaders, and a few others.

Think:  “Each shot fired requires a manual load/reload and trigger pull.”

Cycle Rate:  Depending on the firearm and the shooter’s expertise, between less than second and more than a minute.

SLOW:

MEDIUM:

FAST:

Semi-automatic:  A firearm that performs all steps necessary to prepare it to discharge again after firing, but does not automatically fire an additional round until the trigger is released and re-pressed by the person discharging the weapon.  This class of firearms includes nearly all  pistols (stacked, spring-loaded magazine), double-action (DA/SA) and double-action  only (DAO) revolvers (revolving magazine) and many long guns.  There are two differences between revolvers and pistols in this class.  The first is that that pistols also self-cock the hammer, thereby reducing the trigger resistance and increasing accuracy for subsequent shots, whereas revolvers do not.  The second is that DA/SA and DAO revolvers automatically cycle the cylinder when the trigger is pulled.1

Think:  “Each shot fired requires a trigger pull, but the gun reloads itself between shots.”

Cycle Rate:  Between a few seconds between successive rounds up to several rounds per second.

SLOW:

https://youtu.be/J6Jd47wMfwE?t=3m48s

MEDIUM:

FAST (please note that he is using a revolver):

Automatic:  A firearm that performs all steps necessary to prepare it to discharge again after firing, and continues firing rounds so long as the trigger is held in the depressed position.  This class of firearms includes machine guns, machine pistols, and selective-fire guns.  By U.S. law, individuals are now allowed to possess an automatic weapon except under certain limited situations and only under significantly restrictive requirements, including personal registration with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, accompanied by some heavy fees.

Think:  “Whether a short burst or continuous burst, only one trigger pull is required to fire multiple rounds.”

Cycle Rate:  Between several rounds per second and more than a dozen rounds per second.

SLOW:

MEDIUM:

FAST:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLEGE7k9FD4

In summary,  Given the fact that there’s a great deal of overlap involving both speed and accuracy between the three primary classes of firearms, Whoopi’s statements about firearms are laughable, at best, and seriously misleading — if not endangering — to the civil public at large.

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED,” and for darn good reason, once you see what criminals can do with a firearm!

Notes

1Some people claim that a revolver cannot be considered a semi-automatic because a bullet is not ready to fire before the trigger is pulled.  In reality, however, the cylinder is the firing chamber, and not a magazine or clip, so all rounds in a revolver are indeed loaded.  Furthermore, pulling the trigger aligns the cylinder with the barrel, so that the revolver enters the “ready fire” condition before the trigger pull is finished.  The key point to remember here involves the actions of the shooter.  For both DA/SA and DAO revolvers, as well as semi-automatic pistols, the shooter’s actions are identical:  Load bullets; aim, and repeatedly pull trigger to fire the initial and all successive rounds.  In both revolvers and pistols, there are no additional actions required by the shooter to fully discharge his or her weapon.  In both DA/SA and DAO revolvers, as well as pistols, it’s the mechanism within the gun itself that moves the next round into the firing position.  That’s the “semi-automatic” part.  Whether that reloading mechanism is powered by the previous round or as the initial part of the trigger pull cycle matters not.