Guns will make us powerful: butter will only make us fat.
Samuel Colt invented the revolver in 1834. The .45 was very popular in the Wild West, but was also exported: it was used in the Crimean War. One advantage it enjoys over an automatic gun is that if there’s a misfire you just click on to the next chamber, whereas an automatic gun jams. The reason why there are six chambers is mathematical: the diameter of the bullet has to be a bit less than the radius of the revolving section, so it follows that six rounds is the maximum that’ll fit.
Between them, 16.5 million Yemenis between them own 50 million guns.
The Kalashnikov is the most widely used weapon in the world. More than 50 national armies have them in their arsenal.
Ernest Hemingway bought the shotgun that he used to kill himself at Abercrombie & Fitch.
We’ve all seen film of celebrating gunmen shooting into the air. It doesn’t look safe; and sure enough it does cause injuries, and a disproportionately high proportion of fatalities.
A typical 7.62mm round fired vertically normally climbs about 2,400 metres in 17 seconds, and then take another 40 seconds or so to return to the ground. It falls at a speed of about 70 metres per second (falling base first, because it’s more stable that way round). The bullet velocity required for skin penetration is between 45 and 60 metres per second, but a blow to the head doesn’t need to penetrate the skin in order to be fatal, and this is the key: the reason fatalities are disproportionate is that any injuries which do occur are likely to be cranial. So while it's less likely that you'll be hit than if somebody is aiming at you, if you are hit it’s more likely to be fatal – about five as likely as in normal firing.
Even if it’s launched vertically the bullet is likely to move sideways quite significantly – when it slows down towards its highest point it is particularly susceptible to sideways movement by the smallest gust of wind. Experiments in Florida just after the First World War involved a machine gun set up on a ten-foot-square platform positioned over water so that the returning bullets could be seen to splash down. The gun was adjusted to centre the returning bullets onto the stage, but, of more than 500 bullets fired into the air, only four hit the stage at the end of their return journey.
A lot of the people who keep a gun at home for safety are the same ones who refuse to wear a seat belt.
Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
Hiram Maxim, the man who invented the first automatic machine gun, also patented a ‘Pipe of Peace’, which acted as a steam inhaler for bronchitis sufferers.
At the start of the First World War, all combatant armies were armed with Maxim’s gun or variations on it. Thanks to the huge number of casualties caused by Hiram Maxim’s gun, the First World War was sometimes known as ‘the machine gun war’. Maxim himself had based the structure of his machine gun on the human leg.
He is quoted as saying that 'it will be seen that it is a very creditable thing to invent a killing machine, and nothing less than a disgrace to invent an apparatus to prevent human suffering.' But he didn't mean this at all. This comment is frequently taken out of context to make Maxim seem like a monster. Maxim was reacting to public criticisms of his work on the ‘Pipe of Peace’ and the frequent coverage given to his machine gun, and his comment was meant to be taken ironically. Towards the end of his life he was somewhat shocked by the ghastly effects the gun had had.
At a demonstration of his machine gun, Maxim impressed the British royal family by blasting the letters ‘VR’ (Victoria Regina) into a target. Sherlock Holmes does the same thing to the living-room wall in one of the stories, The Musgrave Ritual. (Dr. Watson declares, 'I felt strongly that neither the atmosphere nor the appearance of our room was improved by it.')
In 1921 the Thompson submachine gun, also known more famously as a Tommy gun, was sold to the US postal service to help protect the mail.
A 'son of a gun' originally meant a soldier's bastard son.
The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun.
Up until the 16th century, gunshot wounds were treated by pouring boiling oil on them.
A 'Grecian Bender' is a slang term for a revolver.
Real guns are allowed at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, but water pistols are banned.
The moon smells like gunpowder.
A key ingredient of gunpowder is human urine.