How Guns Work


Here’s how guns work. A bullet is loaded into the rear of the barrel, which is a tube connected to the firing pin. That explosion ignites the gunpowder, which is tucked inside the shell casing surrounding the bullet. Then voilà, you’ve fired your first bullet.

Imagine firing a gun on someone. Straight through their head. Bang. Dead. It takes exactly half a second for the bullet to kill you when aimed directly at the head. Unlike the depiction in movies, a bullet to the head would not look nice and clean. In fact, the head would no longer be recognizable as it would be completely blown apart.

The first depiction of a firearm was in the fire lance, a black–powder-filled tube attached to the end of a spear and used as a flamethrower; shrapnel was sometimes placed in the barrel so that it would fly out together with the flames. The earliest known depiction of a gunpowder weapon is the illustration of a fire lance on a mid-10th century silk banner from Dunhuang.

My mom, who grew up in Gangwondo, a province in South Korea right next to North Korea, told me she used to go down to the beach with her friends to collect propaganda posters. For every ten they turned into the post office, they would give you small erasers and pencils. 

Although, they never touched the balloons or toys. Inside, there would be bombs or acid traps sent over by North Koreans. One of my mom’s childhood friends lost her arm like that.

Currently, there are over 1 trillion guns on Earth. Three out of 10 Americans own a gun. Did you know more than 50 trillion bullets have been fired in human history (for the purpose of killing other humans)? Can you imagine that? The bodies piled up could reach the moon.

When I was in middle school, an armed stranger came onto campus. I was in the bathroom. All I heard was from kids outside screaming, “RUN!” So, I did what anyone else would do at age 14: I ignored them. Ten minutes later, I casually knocked on the door of my classroom to return inside. No one answered. Weird. I mentioned my name and knocked harder. 5 seconds later, Ms. Laroche reached her arm out to hurl me inside. 

After three hours of hiding, huddled in a corner, waiting for the consensus to come out, we found out two students who had been walking to the yard had gotten hurt.

Since 1968, more than 1.5 million Americans have died in gun-related incidents, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2019, there were over 14,400 gun-related homicides.

I touched my first gun in 2018 at my best friend’s house. It was a random day like any other. His dad was cleaning a rifle in the garage. I was fascinated. He noticed. He asked me if wanted to try to shoot it, and I answered yes. It was black and shiny with a wooden back. It was a lot heavier than people made it look like in the movies, much too big to properly fit on my arm cocked into position. As I aimed the gun at a glass bottle in the backyard connected to the woods, I breathed in. Weirdly, I remember a rush of panic and the single idea that I must drop the gun. My arms obliged and dropped it with a thud. I still don’t know why I couldn’t simply pull the trigger at the bottle. So simple. Bang. Dead.

Anonymous was born in Georgia, lived in Arizona, raised in California, now residing in South Korea. They are studying Public Relations at SU and minoring in IST.