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Small arms are weapons designed to be carried by individual personnel into combat—most notably, service rifles, sidearms, and specialized weapons. These weapons utilize the concept of direct fire—that is, an uninterrupted line of sight through which to engage a target. Their main role is to neutralize enemy infantry units in medium- to close-range combat. Each type of weapon has specific attributes that make it best for a distinct situation. This entry first describes the types and features of small arms used by the U.S. military. Then, recognizing that small arms play a role not only in interstate wars but in intrastate conflicts of many kinds, the entry describes the International Action Network on Small Arms, a global network of organizations that work to stop the ...

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