Odds and Ends
I know gun-fu
23 2, 4:32pm
You are right that single-shot guns were grossly inferior to most melee weapons until relatively recently. One thing I recall from grade school Texas history class was that in the time it took a white man to fire, reload and again fire a black powder rifle, a Comanche warrior could fire no less than a DOZEN arrows from a long bow whose stave was as tall as him (and thus comparable to the dreaded English longbow in both range and power.) We were also taught that was the main reason the Texas Rangers were among the first units to adopt the Peacemaker revolver, of which it was later said that, "God made men; Colonel Colt made them EQUAL."
All that said, crossbows were popular long before firearms for the same reason the latter became standard in most European infantry units several centuries before the US Civil War: Because they may take longer to deliver repeated attacks than melee weapons do, but are FAR easier to use, and thus far easier to train large numbers of civilian militia levees to use quickly. For trained and experienced military professionals, the lance and later the saber were still preferred because those with high degrees of existing skill were far more dangerous wielding those than firearms--but very few PROFESSIONAL soldiers existed prior to the invention of firearms. Conscription, and especially peacetime conscription, did not become widespread until guns did, and that was hardly because European and other armies lacked the need of massive manpower: It just was not practical to invest the time, manpower, money, provender and other resources to train civilians to even minimal levels of military proficiency with military weapons. That was especially true as long as they were as or more effective by simply changing the business end of their farm implements into weapons if and when needed for military service, but leaving them to practice farming skills with farming tools the rest of the time.
People, even in non-military purely social settings DO "kill each other with whatever they can." Guns do not change that: What guns change is the victims ability to do more than "run or die" from the people trying to kill them with whatever they can, as people do unfortunately often. And you are absolutely right that a semi-automatic gun is infinitely better suited to that purpose than a single-shot gun is, for precisely the reasons you stated. That is a wholly different animal than a fully automatic gun, which has no use except to either kill many people quickly or a few people with casual indiscriminate fire. I still advocate the availability of THOSE to the private citizens, but the mandatory certified training standards should be higher than the standards for other guns, in direct proportionate to their respective lethality. We let people drive cars as long as demonstrate certified ability to do so safely and abide by the laws regulating driving, but a license to drive a car is not sufficient to legally drive a bus or semi truck: Because those vehicles are significantly more powerful than standard cars, so proportionately more dangerous in the hands of unskilled operators, so legal operation of them requires separate and correspondingly higher certification and licensing.