Civilian Market

In July 2014, the U.S. Army planned this list of briefing to instruct arms manufacturers about the specifications and design for the new standard guns. According to the plan, different gun makers would have to complete to get that lucrative contract to develop better weapons. That is weapons that are more reliable and powerful compared to those that were currently in use.

The scheduled upgrade was considered tardy since it was almost three decades since the Army began using the Beretta M9. Unfortunately, the Army previously encountered a challenge the last time they tried to challenge the gun industry to make better weapons.

While the manufacturing of new weapons comes as good news and gifts for gun lovers, weapons intended for use by the Army on the battlefield usually end up in the consumer market. As a result, there has been an increase in civilian shootings.

Daniel Webster, a doctor at Johns Hopkins University and who studied gunshot industries in the 1980s, noted an increase in the patients that arrived in the emergency room with multiple gunshot wounds.

Within the first year of the study, only a quarter of the patients came in with multiple gunshot wounds. However, in the last two years of the gunshot injuries study, the number of patients with multiple gunshot wounds rose to 43%.

Interestingly, at around the same time, the number of semiautomatic pistols with an average of 15 round capacity were quickly replacing six-shot revolvers. It is now easy to see the correlation. An increase in the number of bullets in the guns greatly contributed to the increase in gunshot wounds.

So, what caused the sudden change in such a short time?

In 1980, JSSAP- Joint Services Small Arms Programs asked the firearms industry to help develop a new military handgun. The aim was to get a gun with double the capacity of the sidearm used by American troops on the battlefield at that time.

The Army used a pistol designed by John Browning, which had a seven-round capacity. There was a longing to devise a better weapon with desirable features. The Army demanded a replacement with 72 compulsory requirements and other 13 extra desirable features.

Leroy Thompson, who was the brains behind the Beretta M9 Pistol, says that the mandatory requirements they had to meet when designing the weapon were military specific. Thus, these requirements made it hard for most commercial manufacturers to meet them without numerous alterations.

Therefore, different manufacturers had to do a series of trials. Prototype guns were soaked in water, slathered with mud, and exposed to extreme hot and old temperatures hundreds of times.

With each testing, the Army noted each misfire and did an investigation of each mechanical failure. Hence, they kept requesting updates along the way. In 1985, the Beretta won the contract, and the Army ordered new pistols.

Other competing gun manufacturers who did not win the contract offered their weapons for commercial sale. Guns such as Walther P88, SOG-Sauer P226 with 15-round magazine capacity made way to the market.

The new high-capacity weapons were getting to the streets at an alarming rate. In 1986, the Congress Firearms Owners Protection Act was passed that helped to lower the risk of people using guns for criminal activities. Laws for breaching firearm sales also increased.

Even though military contracts were driving innovations to make guns more lethal, the act also increased guns in the civilian market. Whatever handgun the army chooses to replace the Beretta M9, you can always expect to find a similar pistol near you.

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