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Historic Evolution of Guns and Safety

Michael Crites

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Firearms were first documented in the 10th century, and by the end of the 13th century, they’d evolved to become the guns we know today that fire projectiles from a barrel. These guns spread from Asia, where they were created, to Europe thanks to the Silk Road, and once they reached Europe they were further developed into more advanced weapons.

Since then, billions of different types of guns have been created, some of which have moved off of the battlefield and made available for personal use.

This has led to the emergence of gun safety rules for private citizens to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from accidental gun injuries.

The Creation of Guns

The first real gun was invented by the Chinese somewhere between the 10th and 12th centuries. It was known as the fire lance, which was a pyrotechnic device attached to a long shaft that used gunpowder to create an explosive discharge. The fire lance was depicted in early silk paintings from the mid-10th century, but the first written mention of it came in 1132, when it popped up in an account of the Siege of De’an.

The fire lance had a 3-meter range and was primarily used to shock opponents at the beginning of a battle. Over time, the fire lance was built upon by adding ingredients like shrapnel pieces, porcelain shards, and small iron pellets that could be blown out with gunpowder to cause injuries.

The Evolution of Guns

After guns reached Europe around the year 1380, the Europeans tried their hand at taking these firearm designs and making them their own. This led to the creation of the matchlock gun in the 1400s, which used a burning piece of rope to ignite the gunpowder in the firearm when the person pulled a lever or trigger with their finger.

Before that, the person had to manually apply fire to the gunpowder, similar to how a cannon worked, which was a clumsy and slow way of doing things.

The next major advancement in firearm history came in 1509 with the invention of the wheel lock. The wheel lock generated a spark mechanically, without a wick, so it was easier and more reliable than the matchlock.

However, it was expensive to produce at the time, so it wasn’t widely used. In 1630, the flintlock was created to be a lid that could protect the gunpowder. It was a mechanism that could push back the lid and spark a flint at the same time, and it was so popular and widely used that it was barely altered for two centuries. By the 1750s, firearms themselves had become popular enough that men stopped carrying rapiers; guns became the weapon of choice whenever a duel arose.

Less than 100 years after that, in 1835, Samuel Colt developed the first mass-produced multi-shot revolver. While similar designs existed for centuries, Colt was the first to apply new Industrial Age tools to the idea to create affordable guns that were reliable and accurate. This type of revolver led to the creation of shotguns 15 years later, which at the time were primarily used among the upper classes for hunting birds. Similar rifles were created in the following years that became the primary weapons used in the American Civil War.

In the years since the Civil War, guns have evolved to hold more ammunition, use more advanced firing techniques, and shoot more ammunition faster.

How Gun Safety Has Increased Over Time

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