Fully automatic – trigger is pulled back one time and the ammunition is expelled until trigger pressure released. This type of weapon accounts for one percent (1%) of firearms.

Semi-automatic – one pull of the trigger, one bullet. Applies to rifles, shotguns and handguns.

Revolver – A handheld firearm that works with a round cylinder that rotates with the pull of the trigger. Shell casings stay inside the cylinder. This is by far the simplest firearm for both beginners and self-defense. Unlike the semi-automatic pistol, a revolver does not “jam” and if the trigger is pulled and no bullet is fired, pull the trigger again.

Jam – Most firearms that work off a magazine feed (aka clip) are capable of experiencing a jam where the ammunition, for one reason or another, locks up and makes it impossible to fire the weapon. Jams can occur due to quality of ammo, overly strong or weak spring in the magazine, poor feed ramp in firearm, or malfunction due to other part of firearm.

Dry fire – Pulling the trigger when the firearm has no ammo in the cylinder, magazine or barrel. This is harmful to .22 caliber firearms. For those of you who wish to practice with a firearm without ammo, it is recommended that you use “snap caps” or “dummy rounds” which are not active or expelled ammo but prevent any damage to the firearm while allow safe practice or function checking.

Derringer – Generally a small firearm designed for close contact self-defense only. This is usually a single or double barrel handgun that is a single shot (per barrel) firearm.

Rim Fire / Center Fire ammunition – where the part of the bullet (primer) is impacted.

Conceal and Carry Permit – A permit that allows the holder to carry a firearm legally concealed either on their person or in their vehicle. In North Carolina this permit is also an unlimited purchase permit. This NC permit is received after training and an extensive background check. Renewable every five years.

Purchase Permit – a document that allows the holder to purchase one handgun. A permit is received after filling out an application at the Sheriff’s department in the county you live in. A background check is performed and is the basis for approval. Permits cost $5 each and there is no limit restriction (as per state law). Permits are good for five years and can be used to purchase from a gun shop, gun show or private person. Permit must be turned over at time of purchase. They are a “one use” item and does not give the holder any right to conceal and carry.

Remember knowledge is power and understanding correct definitions helps to keep things simple.

Dorothy Royal is the owner of Surf City Guns and Ammo, mother of two wonderful children, ringmaster of a herd of miniature ponies and an avid member of the Surf City Writers Group and Topsail Book Club.