The Thompson, originally marketed to law enforcement officials as the "Anti-Bandit Gun", became associated with mobsters as the "Tommy Gun" during Prohibition and earned the moniker "Trench Sweeper" when it was adopted by the United States military in World War II
What motivated you to join WikiProject Firearms? Do you own any rare or unique firearms?
Mike: I have been involved with firearms my entire adult life, when I was 17 I joined the Marine Corps and became a Rifleman, after I left the Corps I worked in the firearms industry as a ballistician, gunsmith, instructor, and was even sent overseas to inspect guns and ammo for an importer. Currently I author two firearms columns on Examiner.com, one under the header of guns and shooting as a hobby and as personal defense; the other is more concerned with Gun Rights in Nevada. The project seemed a natural fit. As to the second question, I am a Colt Collector and own a Colt Single Action Army Revolver which is 108 years old and a few Colts (a New Service and a 1911) that were used by the US Military in WW1. I have a large collection, but those are my favorites. Many pieces from my collection are used in various Wiki articles as photos.
MatthewVanitas: Been interested in firearms since my late teens, and was in the United States Marines for six years, including Iraq and Afghanistan. While there is pretty decent coverage here, the firearm world is full of all kinds of niche topics since a plethora of small makers/companies have come and go over centuries, and even small ones have often somehow wandered into Notability. While I have some firearms I don't have anything particularly exotic, but in my travels I've had the chance to get a few cool photographs of very obscure firearms and add those. I'm interested in firearms in pretty much the same way I'm interested in musical instruments, so WPGUNS and WPMUSINST are projects I keep coming back to.
DeusImperator: I have been interested in firearms since my early 20s. Fell in love with the sport, shooting handguns, rifles, and shotguns in different sporting disciplines. I have been a supporter of the armed forces of both Canada and the United States. I am a big bore rifle affectionado and own several of these. Read almost every firearms magazine between 1993 to 1999 - several boxes of past magazines until last year. Also love the stories behind the firearms - there is always a story behind everything.
¾-10: I have been interested in firearms since my mid-20s, when I realized that I was ignorant about them and I didn't like being so ignorant about a topic that is inherently important for many reasons (society, government, police work, military, rule of law, self-defense, criminology and crime deterrence, constitutional law, balance of power between states and individuals, and on and on). Given my already-existing interest in metalworking and the history of technology, it was imperative that I become more knowledgeable about firearms, because firearms and artillery were the applications that drove so much of industrial development and the rise of applied science. Not just mechanical engineering and gunsmithing, but also industrial engineering, metallurgy, and the advancement of machine tool technology. From interchangeable parts to the armory system to mass production to the Atomic Age, the thirst for weapons to dominate others, or to defend against others' dominance, is what drove humans to invest in science and engineering more than any other single domain of applications. Having read a dozen or so books about or related to firearms (history, use, carry, etc), I felt I had something to contribute to Wikipedia's coverage of firearms (and to WikiProject Firearms per se). I helped develop the articles handgun, pistol (formerly merged with handgun), revolver, safety (firearms), gun safety, concealed carry, and others. Currently I am drafting the article on modes of carry for firearms, although I may not get around to finishing it for a while. That's OK—Wikipedia is forever. We've got time.
The project's talk page is very active. What attracts editors to the talk page? Do you have any suggestions for other projects that struggle with bringing their members together for discussions?
Mike: Firearms can be controversial, there is the "pro-gun" vs "anti-gun" controversy; but even within the firearms community there are different "camps". This can lead to heated talk page discussions, sometimes editors go against project guidelines and it is brought to the project's attention.
MatthewVanitas: If I had to guess what brings folks in, I think part of it is that project members specifically direct people from the Talk pages of specific articles to the Project Talk page if they have overarching concerns (like arguments about the Project's unofficial guidelines on cruft, etc).
Do discussions about firearm-related articles ever become heated? How have you handled situations like these?
Mike: They have in the past, lately not so much. Sometimes there are disputes over whether a particular gun rates its own article or is it merely a variant of another model. Sometimes people want to list every criminal activity a with which particular model has been used or every appearance of a gun in movies, video games, etc. In some cases this is warranted, such as the Sharps rifle used in Quigley Down Under or Dirty Harry's Smith & Wesson Model 29; other times we're doing a disservice if we have a list including trivial bits like "the bad guy in Lethal Enforcers IV's accomplice uses a pistol which resembles a Glock". There has to be a line drawn somewhere.
MatthewVanitas: Over the years, I've noticed less heated "guns = bad vs. good" issues, and more internal geekery arguments, like disputes over technical minutiae that'd be over the head of the average reader, and the ongoing arguments over cruft. That aside, it's a pretty cordial project since it is quite technical and attracts people who are pretty serious about the details.
DeusImperator: Within the firearms project itself there everyone seems polite ("an armed populace is a polite populace" carries on even here). But there are guidelines that are required. Especially in the United States there are the wildcatters who THINK that they have the answer to all the problems and that the cartridge that they just made up is the answer to it all. They want their 15 min. of fame and sometimes you need to douse their flame. :). Individualism is a good thing but everyone's little garage project has no place on the internet (Notability).
¾-10: I've always advocated keeping a section in the handgun article on semi-automatics versus revolvers (pros and cons of each). Not because this material is especially encyclopedic (it's not) but simply because if you provide a lightning rod for listcruft, then it has somewhere to discharge its natural energies that were going to flow to somewhere anyway. The energy may as well flow to ground efficiently through a ground conductor (a section resigned to cruft) instead of through the house (scattered throughout the article).
The project's main page is no-frills black-and-white text, and the project does not maintain a portal. Are the elaborate templates and decorative items found on many other projects seen as unnecessary? How has the project remained so active without them?
Mike: Although I've been a member of the project for a few years, I only recently became the Coordinator. That will be something I will take a look at. As for our success without them, it has been my experience from 25 years involved in the hobby that shooters and firearms enthusiasts are a motivated group. As most of the mainstream media and academia has a notable distaste for guns, it is up to the people who are interested to keep the information flowing.
MatthewVanitas: A lot of the project members are highly self-motivated for particular sub-sub-stub topics (French WWI pistols, rifles using straight-pull bolt assemblies, etc) so there's not quite as much need for clear coordination beyond the Talk page. For me, the primary items of interest on the Main page are the New Articles section, and the To-Do list template, though I think the To-Do list template is rather underutilised, again partially because people already have a notion of the specific things they're eager to cover.
DeusImperator: Gunnies are not terribly big on frills and colors. Firearms are also pretty simple objects.
Does WikiProject Firearms collaborate with any other projects? If so, how do you split the workload between these projects?
Berean Hunter: Although there is rarely any formal collaboration with other projects, many of the members are also members of the Military History Project as the two subjects are inextricably linked. There is also the Knife Project which shares common members.
Mike: Exactly, I'm the founder and coordinator of the Knife (or Cutlery) Project and most of those members came from this one. I am a member of the Military History one, but most of those folks are more concerned with items larger than "small arms". I would like to see more work with WP:MILHIST in the future, maybe even some of the film or videogame groups.
What are the project's most pressing needs? How can a new member help today?
Berean Hunter: We have a task list that editors are encouraged to help whittle down. Of course, adding citations to any of the articles is always welcome, too.
Mike: Many of the articles were written and sourced a while ago and are in need of cleanup. Sometimes it is formatting existing sources, sometimes it is prose cleanup. Quite a few articles are in need of pictures. I own about 100 guns, but don't own enough to supply the rest of wiki with much needed pics! The open task list is one I try to whittle down as I get spare time.
MatthewVanitas: Catching up on sourcing old articles, and particularly adding photos. For almost every article we have, somebody out on a gun forum somewhere has a pic. I've attempted a few times to stir folks up on gun forums with little success, but have had some more success contacting folks who run fansites and getting their permission to use an image or two, and also by going into GoogleBooks to find old engravings of early firearms that are out of copyright. All these are coincidentally the same procedures I use to get more images into WikiProject Musical Instruments.
DeusImperator: Need a house-keeper and coordinator. I was focusing on the to-do list which is a great place to start. However, it is out of date and requires the services of our housekeeper and coordinator. Gunnies aren't big on pictures and that is sometime a bad thing - i should be taking my own advice here. some editors (like me) require someone to follow and fix my typos. Many articles are merely a stub and need to be researched and expanded. We need someone to go through each article evaluate them, classify them and let the project know (to do list) as to what needs to be done.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Mike: I am glad to see very little bias against our project on Wikipedia. I am very proud of most of our editors for keeping a cool head and adhering to NPOV. There are folks out there that see "Guns" and think "Crazy Americans and the Wild West" or think of only the negative aspects. I hope more will see in the future that there is often an art behind firearms and people come to appreciate the engineering and craftsmanship that well written articles point out. In many ways, firearms development was the impetus for the Industrial Revolution, be that good or bad they have been an important part of human history for the past 500 years.
MatthewVanitas: In particular, there is a lot of misinformation about firearms in the public sphere; not speaking of politics at all, but simply of misapprehensions and urban legends, often highly abbetted (or originating) in movies and TV. Some of these are just goofy misunderstandings, others can actually be unsafe assumptions if a person ever comes into contact with a firearm. It's my hope that someone who sees a given firearm in a video game or movie, or hears a friend on Xbox Live share his "wisdom" on it, might come and read the article and come away with a more accurate understanding and be able to dispel the misinformation floating around. (NOTE: I have a variety of examples, but having trouble thinking which might be the most useful/accessible to a layman reader; if anyone else has any examples of gun mis-information that might be corrected by WP, it'd be neat to have some of those here).