Friday, June 17, 2016

America's Second Amendment to the Constitution - Part I

On 15 December 1791, the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America were passed by Congress.  The first ten amendments are known in the United States as "The Bill of Rights."  The exact language of the second amendment is:  "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,shall not be infringed."  This Amendment II has not had the wording, or intent, changed since it was voted into national law, by the U S Congress, since 15 December 1791.  That was 224 years and 6 months ago.  At that time, the most advanced weaponry was the Kentucky rifle, the Girandoni Air rifle, and the six-pound cannon.  Men marched openly to war, with a few mounted regiments - mounted on horses.  Men with rifles had bayonets, and officers and cavalry carried a saber, weighing in at eight  to twelve pounds.  The rounds fired were .60 caliber in the Kentucky rifles, and .46 caliber in the Girandoni.
   What is happening with weapons today?  They are much more accurate, they are much deadlier, and some are considered to be, relatively, inexpensive.  The weapons fire much more rapidly than they did 224 years ago, and the projectiles, while not as large as the .60 Kentucky rifle rounds, can do one heck of a lot more damage.  There is a huge selection of ammunition available for today's guns, too.  There are many types of bullets; in a self-defense situation, some bullets can give an advantage.  However, with each "pro", there is usually a "con" set against it; and in the bullet family tree every round is related by at least a first or second cousin.  These are a few of the different common varieties of bullets.
   Full Metal Jacket (FMJ or FMC)  - Full metal jacket refers to the copper or steel alloy coating the bullet to reduce lead residue left in the barrel of the gun after firing.   Pros:  Less mess than an unjacketed bullet.   Cons:  Greater penetration - there is less expansion of the bullet in soft tissue.
   Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) - Hollow point rounds have a hollowed out center; when a hollow point strikes its target, the hollow causes the bullet to deform.  It looks like a mushroomed gob of lead pushing through; and the results are devastating.  Because the bullet expands inside the soft target, it pushes out a larger surface area of tissue.  The jacketed version just has a thin covering of copper or steel, meaning less lead powder coating left inside the gun barrel.    Pros: Big messy holes in soft targets.    Cons: Decreased penetration in steel and concrete.      * Non-jacketed hollow points (HP) are also available.
    Overpressurized Ammunition (+P) - This is ammunition made with a higher pressure than the standard rounds of its caliber.  The end product is faster muzzle velocity and greater penetration of the target.  Some handguns deal with the added stress of overpressurized ammunition quite well; others may malfunction.    Pros:  Higher muzzle velocity.    Cons: Greater stress on the barrel of the gun.    * (JHP+P+) This is an Overpressurized Jacketed Hollow Point that combines the jacketed hollow point's increased damage to soft tissue along with the increased velocity and penetration of a +P round.
    Soft Point Bullet (SP or JSP) - This is a bullet with an exposed lead tip; it is sometimes called a "partially jacketed bullet."  Unlike a full metal jacket that completely encases the bullet in a coating of metal alloy, the soft point leaves a portion exposed.  This causes it to expand upon impact - creating a greater surface area.  It also fouls up the barrel of a firearm less than a non-jacketed bullet.  JSPs are considered a good middle ground between a hollow point (HP) and a semi-wadcutter (SWC), which I'll discuss next.   Pros: Slower expansion upon impact than a hollow point.   Cons:  Greater muzzle velocity than a hollow point.
    Semi-Wadcutter (SWC) -  This type of bullet has a blunted tip.  It's typically favored in .38 snub-nose style revolvers.  Where a rounded tip would slide through a target, the flat tip (meplat) punches a big hole.   Pros:  Punches big holes in targets.    Cons:  Slow bullet velocity.    * Wadcutters (WC) are also available; they have a wider and flatter meplat than the SWCs have.
    Hydra Shok  -  This is a proprietary type of ammunition made by Federal Cartridge.  It's a partially jacketed hollow point with a center post in the middle.  If fired at soft tissue, it is characterized by a deep wound channel.
    Armor-Piercing Cartridge  -  These bullets are usually built around a penetrator of hardened steel, tungsten, or tungsten carbide, and such cartridges are often called "hard-core bullets."  The penetrator is a pointed mass of high-density material that is designed to retain its shape and carry the maximum possible amount of energy as deeply as possible into the target.  Rifle armor-piercing ammunition generally carries its hardened penetrator within a copper or cupronickel jacket.  Upon impact on a hard target, the copper case is destroyed, but the penetrator continues its motion and enters the target.  Armor-piercing ammunition for pistols has also been developed.  The entire projectile is not normally made of the same material as the penetrator, as that would make the cartridge equally harmful to the barrel of the gun used for firing.

   We have really come a long way in devising the means to shoot things....      End of Part I.

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