Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pistol or Revolver, Just What do you Call Them?

Oh, yes, we will discuss this first before moving on to that old standby about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin...

Seriously, Jovian Thunderbolt reports on this blog post where the HellinaHandbasket seems to ridicule those that enforce every hobbyist's favorite law, the law of semantics. Well, here's my take.

First, words mean something. One must use the correct term to avoid confusion. Unfortunately this only works with the educated and not everyone is educated on every subject. E.g., I'm not a brain surgeon. This leads to the next truism which is that meanings evolve.

A way back when Sam Colt was doing his patent application handgun=pistol=his invention the revolver. Now, not so much. In fact, there seems to be a legal reason to make the distinction. You see, one must differentiate on the forms an FFL holder completes when transferring a firearm. There is some redundancy in the 4473 and the VA state form. At some point one must specify whether it is a revolver (handgun with a revolving cylinder) or pistol (all other handguns). Note: One must also differentiate between shotguns and rifles even though, at one point, one checks the longarm block.)

However, hobbyists use the term differently and apparently the term is continuing to evolve. When I was "coming up" in the hobby I was told several times that all handguns are pistols and that all revolvers were pistols but not all pistols were revolvers. This is how I use it. I have never heard anyone discuss the Smith and Wesson catalog connection. I don't know if that has affected a BATFE form writer or not.

As to HellinaHandbasket's extreme clerk, that person should have been fired. One is always kind to customers. It is enough to use the correct term when speaking about an item and they will (or will not) learn from that and it might initiate a conversation. Either way, so long as they can safely use the object, a sale shouldn't be impeded by one's technical superiority. That ill serves the boss AND the customer. If one is going to ill serve the customer it should be because of ignorance not impudence.

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