‘Just the (Gun) facts, ma’am’

I get upset when I hear people talk of firearms and through their use of terms reveal themselves that they don’t know what they are talking about and haven’t taken the time to learn that the correct terminology.

As previously stated, this will be continually updated with new terms as time and need arises.



The purpose of a firearm is to propel a projectile, usually as a direct result of combustion, through a tube at a certain velocity.

The use of a firearm can take on number of purposes: Sport Competition, Target Shooting (Plinking), Hunting, Offensive and Defensive purposes.

‘Assault’ Rifle

A true ‘Assault’ weapon rifle is one that can fire multiple rounds with a single trigger pull, also known as ‘select fire’ going from three round bursts to fully automatic. This cannot be owned by the general public except by obtaining a Class III firearm license that has to be approved by the ATF and is cost prohibitive. All firearms that are legally owned without special licensing are semi-automatic. One round for one trigger pull.

The Gun Act of 1994 politically assigned the name of ‘Assault’ Weapon to any common semi-automatic rifle that had characteristics of a Military Type Weapon. For example, if the rifle had a pistol grip or a collapsible stock, it was deemed an ‘Assault’ weapon and was banned. This did not ban the rifle itself, only if it had the characteristics or looked ‘scary’. Manufacturers simply eliminated those ‘Assault’ markers and continued producing the same basic rifle. Add to that the fact that the existing weapons remained in circulation; this in itself should nullify the concept that the ban had any positive reductions in crime.

Brass, See Casing


The metal projectile of a round that is expelled when the propellent charge or gunpowder is ignited


Also known as ‘Brass’. One of the components of an ammunition round that holds a measured amount of gunpowder or propellent charge to be ignited when a firing pin strikes the primer of an ammunition round.


A device that is used to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit, ready for insertion into the magazine or cylinder of a firearm. This is not to be confused with a magazine.


The approximate internal diameter of a barrel, or the diameter of the projectile used in it.

Conceal Carry

Method of carry by a licensed gun owner (depending on individual states laws and requirements). A firearm can be carried concealed, either by using a IWB (Inside WaistBand) holster or covering the firearm with an untucked shirt or coat.

FFL – Federal Firearms License

A license that enables an individual or a company to engage in a business pertaining to the manufacture of firearms and ammunition or the interstate and intrastate sale of firearms. Holding an FFL to engage in certain such activities has been a legal requirement within the United States of America since the enactment of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Four Safety Rules

These were developed by Jeff Cooper and they have become the mantra of all responsible gun owners. They are applied to any and all firearms loaded or unloaded and failure to follow them can produce stern reprimand from fellow gun enthusiasts.


  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.




Georgia Crime Information Center. established in 1973 as an operating division within the GBI to serve as the chief provider of criminal justice information services in Georgia.


Law Enforcement Officer. Usually a police officer but it can mean an officer who’s title provides enforcement privileges to uphold the laws for any given jurisdiction that they serve.


A detachable ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm.

Magazine Capacity

The number of rounds that be loaded into a magazine. There is not a standard capacity size. Each firearm manufacturer balances function with design. The term, ‘High Capacity’ magazine is for a magazine that can hold a high number of rounds and can trace it’s roots to the 1790s.

Method of carry, See Conceal Carry; Open Carry

The method of carrying a firearm, usually Open or Concealed Carry in reference to a pistol or revolver.

Negligent Discharge (N.D.)

The unintentional discharge of a round from a firearm. This term is preferable to an ‘Accidental Discharge’ as guns cannot fire on their own. A N.D. is a direct result of failing to always treat a firearm as if it was loaded.


The National Firearms Act (N.F.A.), was enacted in 1934 in order to regulate certain types of firearms to include their ownership and transfer. These types of firearms are not illegal to own (not banned) but must be registered with the A.T.F. through special licensing and tax stamps in which fees, usually high, are paid.


The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (N.I.C.S.), was established in 1998 by the F.B.I. as a result of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Law) of 1993. It is used to determine of a potential buyer is eligible to buy a firearm or explosives. For a firearm, a buyer must complete form, ATF 4473. After which the seller, usually a FFL holder or licensed dealer, contacts N.I.C.S. where three separate database checks are performed and the results, usually a few minutes, provided on whether the sale can take place.

There is a separate background check performed by the state where the transaction is to take place. For Georgia, the additional background check goes through the G.B.I.s G.C.I.C.


Official Code of Georgia Annotated is the compendium of all active laws in the U.S. state of Georgia.

One of the features of the O.C.G.A. is that it provides historical reference to previous enactments of a particular code. This is invaluable to researching the history of a particular code and understanding of its source.


The process and agreement where one state reciprocates in recognizing a firearm carry license with another state. The licensee of the other state must adhere to the laws and regulation of the state they are visiting.


An ammunition round that has four basic physical components, a primer, a casing, gunpowder, and a bullet. A primer is attached at the one end of a casing and provides ignition to the gunpowder. The casing holds the gunpowder or propellant charge to be ignited when the firing pin strikes the primer, a bullet that is crimped at the other end of the casing, and is projected down the barrel by the expanding gas of the ignited gunpowder contained within the chamber of a firearm.


Squib (or Squib Load)

A bullet that didn’t receive enough pressure to be projected completely out of a barrel. This potentially dangerous situation is caused when the propellant in a round either didn’t burn completely or there was a short load of propellent in a round. The firearm may cycle another round into the chamber and cause an catastrophic explosion when the new round is fired and the bullet strikes the previous bullet in the barrel. This has enough force to cause the barrel and/or chamber to split open and produce shrapnel. A squib will have a distinctive but muted sound that will indicate that one has occurred. Care must be taken if you hear a squib or have a round that doesn’t fire. Visually clearing the chamber and checking the barrel for any blockage is necessary to ensure that the firearm can safely be used.