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The 5 Most Dangerous Guns in America

These are the firearms causing the most harm

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Contrary to what those who defend the right to own high-powered assault rifles believe, not all guns are created equal. Due to a combination of availability, portability and criminal usage the following five types of guns are the country's most dangerous.

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Using firearm trace data from the ATF, as well as FBI homicide records, we determined the types of guns most often recovered from crime scenes and/or used in murders. The numbers are stark: According to the FBI's 2012 Crime in the US data, nearly 70 percent of homicides for which the FBI received weapons data involved the use of a firearm and handguns alone accounted for about 72 percent of firearms used in murders and non-negligent manslaughter. While the FBI does not elaborate on the type of handguns used in these incidents, the ATF's analysis of weapons confiscated from crime scenes provides a more specific look at the weapons criminals prefer, which we've shared with you here. By Kristen Gwynne

 

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Pistols

Popular among handgun-owners, pistols are defined by their built-in barrel and short stock. They are the most commonly recovered firearm type reported by the ATF. With more than 119,000 pistols found at crime scenes in 2012, this handgun model holds an unfortunately solid first place in criminal weaponry.

One of the most popular pistols is the Glock, a short-recoil operated, semi-automatic pistol produced by Glock Ges.m.b.H. in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria. Glocks comprise 65 percent of the market share of handguns for United States law enforcement agencies and are also frequently used by international law-enforcement.

 

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Revolvers

Revolvers, named for their rotating chambered cylinder, placed second in the ATF's ranking of guns found at crime scenes more than 46,000 recovered in 2012, the most recent year for which statistics were kept. 

Some grenade launchers, shotguns, and rifles also have rotating barrels, but the term "revolver" is generally used to describe handguns. Revolver types include single and double-action firing mechanisms, the latter of which does not require a cocking action separate from the trigger pull.

 

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Rifles

Law enforcement agencies pulled more than 39,000 from crime scenes in 2012, firmly establishing this weapon — designed to be fired from the shoulder — in third place on the ATF's trace list. Pulling the trigger of a rifle fires one projectile at the intended target, as opposed to the shotgun's ability to spray. According to FBI latest publicly available homicide records, in 2012 rifles were used to murder more than 320 people.

Rifles were created to improve the accuracy of smoothbore muskets, for which the musket ball was often an bad fit due to manufacturing complications. Accurate and easy-to-aim, rifles are now the most common hunting weapon.

 

shotgun

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Shotguns

Like rifles, shotguns are fired from the shoulder and may release a single projectile. Unlike rifles, however, one pull of a shotgun's trigger may also spray the target with round pellets, or shot. Additionally, the explosive that creates the energy to fire the gun occurs in the fixed shell of a shotgun rather than the metallic cartridge of a rifle.  

Per the FBI, shotguns were used in 303 murders in 2012. With 27,000 shotgun recoveries reported to the ATF in 2012, they are the fourth most common type of firearm confiscated at crime scenes. 

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Derringers

Derringers, small pocket or palm-sized pistols with one or two barrels, have no strict legal definition, but are included in the ATF's trace form as a category of firearm. With just more than 2,000 recoveries in 2012  — a small number compared to the other firearm types listed above, largely because it is a subset of the highly-popular pistol — derringers are the fifth most-cited firearm in crime scene recoveries.  

While high-capacity-magazine assault weapons have bee linked to large numnber of mass shootings over the past 30 years, varying definitions of "assault" rifles make comprehensive information difficult to access. We do know, however, that assault weapons — loosely categorized as semi-automatic, rapid-fire weapons designed for combat use — are used in a small minority of homicides and other gun crimes.

 

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