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INBA Professional Development Event: Guns 101

A Quick Guide to Guns


(Information from the Illinois State Police presentation to INBA on March 23, 2013 in Springfield, Illinois)

Guns- an overall term generic term for firearms. Another generic term is "weapons."  

(Illinois State Police Sgt. Greg Hacker demonstrates weapons most commonly used in sport hunting and law enforcement)

They are divided into two types:  

  • Hand guns are those that can be easily held in one hand.
    • Pistols are fed through a magazine typically loaded at the base of the gun
    • Revolvers have a multi-chambered cylinder generally on top of the gun
  • Long guns have a longer barrel and are generally meant for longer-range shots.
    • Rifles have grooves on the inside of the barrel, and fire bullets
    • Shotguns have smooth barrels, and can fire multiple types of ammunition.
    • The ISP suggests that if law enforcement on the scene is not specific, call it a long gun.


(Illinois State Police Lt. Steve Lyddon shows some of the most common weapons used by officers and sport hunters)

Magazine not interchangeable with the term "clip" which is a type of loading device. A magazine is a container, fixed or detachable, which holds cartridges to be fed into the gun's chamber.  

Semi-automatic weapons immediately load another bullet into the chamber as soon as you press the trigger to fire, but you must press the trigger each time. Most pistols are semi-automatic weapons.   

Automatic weapons fire constantly as long as you hold the trigger and ammunition is available. Fully automatic weapons are illegal in Illinois without a special license. 

Select-fire weapons allow the owner to choose automatic or semi-automatic fire.   

Ammunition for rifles, revolvers and pistols in measured in calibers,although millimeters are occasionally used. A .38-caliber bullet equals 9mm. Shotgun ammunition is measured in gauge. The higher the number, the smaller the size.

There is no law enforcement definition of "assault weapon."

State bans typically regulate or address some of the following components:
  • Collapsible or folding stock (the butt of the rifle or shotgun)
  • The size or nature of the pistol grip
  • The presence of a bayonet lug
  • A compensator, silencer or flash suppressor

Reporters were invited to tour the FBI Headquarters in Springfield. Many of the morning's participants took part in the tour.

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