Systems of martial arts utilize of variety of weapons that include polearms, blades, and blunt objects among others. While Systema and some branches of ninpo budo taijutsu include firearms as part of their training, why have firearms not historically become part of most other martial arts systems or assimilated into practice?
I would disagree with the premise that firearms arent in the 'martial arts' world. Firearm training most definitely falls into the category of martial arts. It may just not immediately be recognized as what we typically consider to be a 'martial art' because its not surrounded by the trappings of Japanese/Chinese technique names, uniforms, and cultural influence.
That said, I suspect the reason it hasn't been picked up and assimilated into 'traditional' martial arts is two-fold.
First, economic/social. In most places in modern America you can walk into a gun store, plop down $500, and walk out with a high quality, reliable handgun (assuming you pass the instant check and such). But in the locales where most of the 'traditional' martial arts were developed, that simply wasn't feasible at the time. Even if it was legal in such places, and at a time when the technology was available, a hundred or two hundred years ago the residents of those places simply wouldn't have been able to afford it. Most were subsistence farmers. We'd be talking spending a year's earnings on a single weapon (and then starving to death). That's why Karate uses nunchuku (rice flails), and Filipino arts use sticks - that's what they had available to them. (and some extent, that still holds true in a lot of places around the world). Had they had M1911A's freely and cheaply available to them, the arts you know of now would be very different.
The second part of the reason is tautological. The reason most arts don't then assimilate firearms training after the style matures is because they aren't firearms training arts. That is, the art exists to train people in unarmed fighting, not to train people with firearms. That's what firearms trainers are for. Its the same reason Judo hasn't 'assimilated' Filipino stick fighting techniques. No one denies that hitting someone with a stick is effective. Its just not what they are there to teach.
Okay, after reflection, I'm going to try to answer this with the respect it deserves:
Firearms became a part of military life in China in the late 12th century, as the invention of gunpowder led to the development of portable cannonry. This sort of firearm and others were introduced and adopted by the Japanese sometime in the 15th century.
The musket was adopted into the regimented lifestyle of the Japanese Bushi in the 16th century (I may be mildly off on the dates; I believe it was brought to Japan by the Portuguese), and the traditions that formed around the militaristic use of these weapons led to the later development of schools of Hojutsu (gunnery skills). Many of these schools had teachings on the use of the firearm in hand-to-hand combat based on common stances (kamae) in which the wielder might find himself (reloading, ready, marching, etc.)
Many modern martial arts teach the use of the firearm as a weapon, both insisting or instructing in the proper discharge of the firearm, or its adaptation as a weapon. Systema Ryabko (commonly referred to only as Systema in the US) teaches a number of ways to adapt the pistol and the very common AK-XX (the 47 and 74 can be interchanged) weapons to hand-to-hand combat.
Many arts come from countries that were, at one time or another prior to the present day, largely disarmed. The Communists disarmed the Chinese people, and manipulated the ways that many martial arts were taught by making these traditions into nationalized sports. The same was true of the Russians, in which the traditional styles of folk wrestling and hand-to-hand combat were prohibited to the general populace. We can draw the likely assertion as well that firearms, commonly deemed more dangerous and more easily controlled than the human body, would likely have been stripped from the majority in places with Socialist or Nationalist political ideologies. This also occurred in Post-War Japan under the American occupation.
Since the firearm has a long and lustrous history, especially in the east from which many of our currently fascinating martial arts stem, it is completely illogical to ignore historical occurrences when wondering why firearms are largely ignored in modern training.
I would say that they have become part of martial arts in the greater sense of martial arts. By this I mean in training relating to war. It is just a very vague and unstructured one.
All military and police forces will teach firearms use. There are set movement and training regimes -- very similar to kata in hand to hand and ranged weapon styles. Body position and breathing are taught before you handle a gun. Philosophy is even taught -- "This is my gun, This is for fun". Practice is strongly suggested. There are even sport competitions: quick draw, target shooting, clay pigeon, and biathlon to name but a few. There are "teachers" and "students" and "ranking systems" -- snipers as black belts? There are dojo or shooting ranges where one can practice.
However, most people would not equate martial arts with fire arms. I think this stems from a misunderstanding (or rather a narrowing) of the definition of martial arts. Merriam-Webster defines martial arts as any of several arts of combat and self defense (as karate and judo) that are widely practiced as sport. As such, I see fire arms as one.
Maybe ease (as compared to other weapons) with which fire arms can taught means that there is no need for the whole classical structure of martial arts. This, I believe, is the real reason why Aikido or Muay Thai do not have gun-kata in them.
As near as I have been able to tell, it is more due to the philosophy of most martial arts systems as firearms do not require the same skill and arguably grace that other weapons require. There was a book on the history of dueling that touched on this briefly from a different perspective, namely that dueling with pistols was looked down upon because they didn't require any significant skill (i.e. you can train someone to be competent in an hour or so) when compared to dueling with swords which would require months of training and a high degree of skill to be competent with.
If we look at most of the weapons that are incorporated into martial arts systems, they tend to either be very simple (i.e. knives) or fairly exotic form the standpoint of combat (i.e. nunchaku) and either require a great deal of practice to become extremely dangerous with, or are actively dangerous to their wielder if they are not properly trained. This tends to mesh well with the philosophy of most martial arts of not just being a way to defend yourself, but also a form of long term self improvement that firearms just don't offer.
Some martial arts trace their lineage back to times that predate firearms. Other martial arts are more of sport arts and focus on point systems and forms. Others are for physical and mental fitness rather then actual combat. A martial art that would be used totally in real work scenarios where weapon use would be common or viable is pretty specific. But this by no means that there are no martial arts the focus on firearms.
As started in other answers most law enforcement and military organisations teach weapon use, multiple firing positions, stances, grips, drills (kata's) and actions that are very much an art form.
I would say that because of the requirements, legalities and logistics required to teach people how to use a gun, fire it and practice with it are outside the capabilities of most organizations other then government ones. Martial arts can be dangerous, but it's very seldom fatal, one tiny mistake with a firearm and someone can die, there is no margin for error.
Most of the arts are very practical, and deal with things you will always have with you, such as your body, your sword (in some cultural roles, for some historical periods), etc.
Martial arts meant for categories of people using weapons which include firearms naturally include firearms: systema, ninpo, etc. To some extent, it could be argued that the military is trained in a martial art regarding their weapon, as they become intimately acclimated to it.
Since the arts are practical, it does not make sense to add a study of firearms when you, or the people likely to force you to use your skills, will likely not have a firearm.
In today's world, the situation is a bit different - and if no one has managed to include firearms training in a traditional art, there may be many reasons:
- Instructor is not skilled enough to do it. Adding a new skillset in a coherent and cohesive manner into an existing art is HARD.
- Legal reasons. Pray tell, WHY do you need to purchase twenty handguns and five thousand rounds of ammunition? Oh, right, your martial arts school. Stand over here while I call the police.
- Instructor is not thinking about it.
- It is still not very likely that you will encounter a firearm (I do not have data available to argue this fact in either direction, and it depends on where you are anyway).
I know of at least one example (sorry, no source) of someone who has brought handgun manipulation into their bagua training. I can't find it again, unfortunately.
It is happening, but not very quickly, because it's hard. A lot of small skills come into play when managing a weapon.
Tradition, inexperience. That is all I suppose. :) More often it is probably such that one hasn't been trained by their teacher, neither has ever had a gun, so they don't do so themself. Tradition continues.
Another thing to consider, depending on school of thought, the main intention of weapons training is not always to learn to use a weapon, but to act as an extension in training the body/mind. Weapons are also weights, and they require other considerations beyond the body, such as not hitting yourself, and how to put your energy through something that is not necessarily your body. It is not necessarily about the weapon, but enhances existing body/mind refinement.
Military, law enforcement or "combat training" is not really the question. I think what we want to know is why aren't they slinging guns in Aikido, Karate, Kung Fu? Rubber guns are not fatal.