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History of the Gun

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The gun is a very unique piece of work that has all kinds of uses. The Chinese invented the gun many years ago. Since the gun has been invented it has improved tremendously and is still advancing this day.

When was the gun invented?

The first gun was invented in the year 1232. This invention was introduced after the invention of black powder was discovered. “Gunpowder is an explosive mixture of 15% charcoal, 10% sulfur, and 75% potassium nitrate, or saltpeter.”1 Gunpowder was used for fireworks that was fired out of bamboo sticks during the ninth century. The bamboo stick was also used as the first gun, they were not very productive because they were so brittle, but they were used to try to stop the Mongol invaders.

“Europeans obtained gunpowder in the thirteenth century.”2 The Europeans took the recipe to this mixture and was going to enhance the gun severely. The first type of firearm invented by the Europeans was the cannon; the cannon was used to siege the defenders in the castle walls. The cannonballs fired from the cannons would crumble the castle walls leading to the end of feudalism. The first siege that the Europeans conquered was the siege of Metz in the year 1324.

“Cannons were very effective weapons in a siege, but soldiers soon wanted guns they could carry. At first, simple “hand gonnes” were used side-by-side with traditional weapons such as crossbows, pikes, and lances. The development of small arms quickly changed how military battles were fought.”3 The knights that fought on the front line of the military were soon defeated when the gun was invented. The armor could withstand swords, spears and lances, but when a bullet was shot it pierced through the armor making it defenseless against the gun. When the full armor body suits were put away the helmets and the breastplates were introduced. The breastplates were made out of very hard steel and could withstand a straight shot from a bullet. This invention gave each side a chance to survive from a gunshot.

Starting around the 1400's blacksmiths began inventing more and easier ways to operate a gun. The first invention that simplified the gun was the matchlock gun. A wick was attached to a clamp that released into a chamber full of gunpowder. This cut reload time down a little but not much. During the 15th and 16th century the only thing that changed on the gun was the way they produced a spark to fire. The 18th century rolled around and a percussion cap gun was invented. The percussion cap gun was invented by a man named Reverend John Forsyth. “firing mechanism no longer uses flash pan, a tube lead straight into the gun barrel, the tube had an exposed cap on it that exploded when struck”4 During the 18th century there were all sorts of guns invented. Guns ranging from revolvers and center firing guns all the way to shotguns and rifles. The automatic gun was even invented in the 18th century. During the 19th century a new gun was invented: the new gun was an automatic and it was a Winchester. The Winchester automatic rifle was invented during the year 1903. More rifles were invented during the 19th century and the more they were invented the more sophisticated and enhanced they became. Guns anywhere from the Tommy gun to the Assault rifle.

When these guns were invented they were able to kill lots of people in a short period of time. The time it takes to reload a gun today verses the time it took 3 centuries ago has changed dramatically. Centuries ago it took almost two minutes to reload and fire a gun. Today you can shoot up to a thousand rounds a minute. Mankind has invented guns so that they can be used to kill people in mass numbers. When ships were introduced to guns they took advantage of opportunity to use them. Sailors could use guns to rob other boats and take over villages and tribes. Even though the people that lived in the tribe would outnumber the people on the boat, they could be conquered by something that they have never seen before in their life.

Why were guns invented?

“Guns were invented not for protection against the elements or for sport or for hunting but with the simple purpose to fight other men.”5 There was a man named Samuel Colt that quoted the phrase: “God made man. Samuel Colt made them equal”6,this is said to be true because of what Samuel Colt invented. Samuel Colt invented the revolver, which is still used in today's society in some countries. With the idea that the gun was invented to fight other men the world has turned into a war. Everywhere that you turn and look you will see someone with a gun or is being robbed by someone with a gun. Some people that own guns don't think before they act. This is why there are so many murders with guns. Everyone in the military has a gun issued to them. Most of the military carry machine guns with them into combat for the simple reason that the machine gun can fire rapid fire for a long period of time. All you have to do with a machine gun is keep it cool and keep the gun loaded at all times and shooting will never stop. The man who invented the machine gun is Doctor Richard Gatling. “Doctor Richard Gatling patented his design of the “Gatling Gun”, a six-barreled weapon capable of firing a (then) phenomenal 200 rounds per minute.”7 The Gatling gun was invented in the year 1861. During the year 1885 The Maxim Machine Gun was invented. Years later the Tommy gun was invented. “The Thompson submachine gun or Tommy gun was invented by General John T. Thompson, it was the first hand held machine gun. Thompson was driven with the thought of creating a hand held machine gun that would help end the First World War, However, “the first shipment of prototype guns destined for Europe arrived at the docks in New York city on November 11, 1918, the day the war ended.”8

New and Improved Guns

The guns of the 20th century are amazing. They have guns that can see around corners and guns that tell you how far your target is away from you. The equipment that mankind has come up with is far more advanced than anyone has ever thought. We now have radars that can see where you are at night. The infrared radar system has let us see things at night. This helps the military find the enemy in tough weather such as rain or snow, but the infrared radar has one downfall. The radar system cannot see anything submerged in water. Next we have the smart bullet, the smart bullet can follow your every turn, and you can't hide from it. The distance that the bullet can travel depends on where the target is. “According to recently declassified research by the Department of Defense, the new bullets will allow snipers to hit targets several kilometers away.”9 The smart bullet travels at Mach 3. The reason that this bullet can maneuver like it does is because it have a ball joint that connects the nose of the bullet to the casing. “The nose can move by up to 0.1 degrees in any direction.”10 The gun that this bullet comes out of has to be very powerful to make this bullet travel the distance it does. The military is going from guns to chemical warfare now. Chemical warfare is very dangerous to use because it spreads and doesn't stop and is hard to control. “Chemical warfare is warfare (and associated military operations) using the toxic properties of chemical substances to kill, injure, or incapacitate an enemy.”11 Chemical weapons are and can be very dangerous and have been used since the 1900's. The way that you use to tell how chemicals were surrounding you was by smell, by the time u smelled the gas you were dead, you had no chance of living. The chemical warfare today has improved its detection. The way that you can tell the chemicals are around you now are by chemical strips, laser detection, alarms, and blister agent detectors. There are three schedules of chemical weapons that can be used for warfare. The first schedule has little use. This schedule is mainly for medical research and pharmaceutical use. “Examples include nerve agents, ricin, lewisite, and mustard gas.”12 The second schedule has no big industrial uses but is used legitimately for small uses. “Examples include dimethyl methylphosphonate, a precursor to sarin but also used as a flame retardant and thiodiglycol, a precursor in the manufacture of mustard gas but also widely used as a solvent in inks.”13 The last scheduled substance has large-scale industrial uses. “Examples include phosgene and chloropicrin.”14 Both of these chemicals have been in use when it comes to chemical warfare. The substance phosgene is used in the production of plastic. The chemical Chloropicrin is used as a fumigant. If both of these plants produce up to 30 tons a year they have to be reported to The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, (OPCW).

Guns have taken a very big toll on the 20th century population. The improvement of guns will never stop and will keep on getting more sophisticated. History is always in the making and history is always repeating itself, so keep up with time or it will leave you standing alone!

Notes

1. Thomas Gale. Bookrags.com The Invention of Guns. Science and Its Times: 700-1449. (Background) 1st paragraph, 1st sentence.

2. Bookrags.com (Background) 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence.

3. Bookrags.com (Impact) 2nd paragraph, 1st 3 sentences.

4. Mary Bellis, About.com. History of Firearms. (Timeline), Year 1825. 2nd part of sentence.

5. Blurtit. Why Were Guns Invented? 1st paragraph, Last sentence.

6. Blurtit. 1st paragraph, 2nd sentence.

7. Mary Bellis, About.com. The History of Guns Rifles and Machine Guns. (Machine Guns- Gatling Gun-1861) 1st sentence.

8. (Machine Guns- Thompson Submachine Gun - Tommy Gun) 1st 2 sentences.

9. Justin Mullins-New Scientist. Sniper Country.com. 1st paragraph. 2nd sentence.

10. Sniper Country.com. 3rd paragraph, Last sentence.

11. New World Encyclopedia. Chemical Warfare. 1st paragraph, 1st sentence.

12. New World Encyclopedia. (Three groups of chemical weapons - Schedule 1 substances). 3rd sentence.

13. New World Encyclopedia. (Three groups of chemical weapons - Schedule 2 substances). 2nd sentence.

14. New World Encyclopedia. (Three groups of chemical weapons - Schedule 3 substances). 2nd sentence.

Bibliography

Blurtit. Why Were Guns Invented? The New York Times Company. Revised 2009.

November 11 2009. http://inventors.about.com/od/militaryhistoryinventions/a/firearms.htm

CALVO, SHERRI CHASIN. "The Invention of Guns". 2005. November 11 2009. <http://www.bookrags.com/research/the-invention-of-guns-scit-0212345/>.

Mullins, Justin - New Scientist. “You can run, but you can't hide”.[Archive: 12 April 1997] November 11 2009 http://www.snipercountry.com/Articles/SmartBullets.asp

"Chemical warfare." New World Encyclopedia. 14 Jan 2009, 19:22 UTC. 18 Nov 2009, 07:21 <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Chemical_warfare?oldid=902188>.


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