Thursday, June 23, 2016

While Democrats Protest Against the Second Amendment, Nearly 3,000 Babies Died

As Washington Democrats staged a foolish "sit-in"—Isn't it amazing how good liberals are at doing nothing?—in order to gain a vote on gun-control measures that will do nothing to prevent gun violence, over 2,800 of the most defenseless Americans were slaughtered inside their mother's womb. Of course, Washington Democrats—to the tune of nearly 60 million since the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision—have long been directly complicit in the deaths of unborn children.

Meanwhile, as they continue to foolishly flail about—I mean sit on their bottoms—when it comes to guns, Democrats also continue to display a dangerous ignorance on the real threats to Americans. What kind of administration tries to hide from Americans what almost anyone who'd paid attention to the Orlando atrocity for 15 minutes already knew was true?! What kind of administration tells us that we need "compassion, unity and love" when it comes to dealing with terrorists and terrorism, but will not come to the aid of the most defenseless among us?! The answer is simple: an administration corrupted by liberalism.

As I've noted before, for liberals, attempting to claim the moral high-ground is like a community organizer winning the Nobel Peace Prize: it only happens with willful suspension of reason and facts—which means it happens a lot in liberal circles. Because the moral demands of liberalism are few and malleable, any movement born of liberalism will have a corrupt morality. Today's sit-in is no different. All these Democrat fools are accomplishing is again demonstrating why no one should ever vote for a liberal.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Friday, June 17, 2016

Apart From Jesus, We’re Always in Danger

“Of all bad men,” wrote C.S. Lewis, “religious bad men are the worst.” Lewis added, “The ‘average sensual man,’ who is sometimes unfaithful to his wife, sometimes tipsy, always a little selfish, now and then (within the law) a trip sharp in his deals, is certainly, by ordinary standards, a ‘lower’ type than the man whose soul is filled with some great Cause, to which he will subordinate his appetites, his fortune, and even his safety.”

In the atrocity that plagued Orlando this past weekend, we saw Lewis’s long proverb on display. The homosexual nightclub Pulse was filled with those illicitly satisfying their sensual desires. In walks a man who is blind to the notion that you don’t cure one evil through the exercise of another. Motivated by the “great Cause” that is radical Islam, he commits mass-murder on a historic scale.

Of course, other than perhaps the gunman Omar Mateen, no one visiting Pulse last Saturday night/Sunday morning thought his life was going end. However, make no mistake about it, as this page well documents, and in spite of the decades of liberal propaganda to the contrary, whether or not a homosexual nightclub is visited by a homicidal Islamist, those steeped in the homosexual lifestyle are putting their lives at considerable risk. To remain silent on this issue means tens of thousands of those made in the image of God will suffer horrifically. 

Because of the many health risks associated with homosexuality, multiple studies have revealed that homosexuals live about 20 years less than national averages. Even the CDC admits, “[R]ecent studies have examined the health and health care of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) populations and have found clear disparities among sexual minority groups (i.e., gay or lesbian and bisexual) and between sexual minorities and straight populations. These disparities appear to be broad-ranging, with differences identified for various health conditions… [and] health behaviors such as smoking and heavy drinking…Across most of these outcomes, sexual minorities tend to fare worse than their nonminority counterparts.”  

In other words, it’s much more dangerous to live a homosexual lifestyle than it is to smoke. (According to the CDC, and The New England Journal of Medicine, the lifespan of smokers is about 10 years less than nonsmokers. And we all know how the left loves cigarettes.) Whether drug or alcohol abuse, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, false religions, and the like, any place outside the will of God is a dangerous place.

The most dangerous place in America,” said pastor, author, and university president Dr. Mark Rutland, “is the place where authority is not observed and where rebellion is inculcated into the lives of our young people…The most dangerous place in America, is the place that is filled with disrespect, irreverence, and the spirit of lawlessness—the spirit of disobedience.”

As I noted after a different mass shooting nearly three years ago, for decades now, millions of American youth, taught by their Faustian masters, (whether in their homes, at their schools, or through the media) have been brought up in this spirit of rebellion. Thus hundreds of millions of Americans have suffered with the cursed fruit of a nation that has rebelled against authority of most every kind, but especially that of God. We are a nation filled with wicked rebellion. (Ask large city police departments—like Chicago’s—where this spirit of rebellion has led.)

Good has become evil, and evil has become good. A man commits mass murder and so many of us look for answers and explanations in his weapon of choice. Satan laughs. We have not armed ourselves against one another so much as we have taken up arms against God and His law. No one should be surprised that a nation which has killed over 50 million of its children in the womb is a violent nation in other ways as well. As Mother Teresa taught us, “I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child—a direct killing of the innocent child—murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”

We are a nation plagued not only with violence and lust, but with greed, gluttony, slothfulness, selfishness, along with almost every other wickedness you can imagine. It is little wonder then that we elect leaders who reject God’s idea of marriage and who refuse to defend the most defenseless among us. It is little wonder that, more and more, our courts reject the moral authority of God’s law.

Just prior to his death, Moses warned the children of Israel of the curses that followed disobedience: disease, drought, financial ruin, military defeat, and death. Jesus regularly warned of the earthly and the eternal consequences of rejecting Him and going our own way.

Filled with pride and jealousy, King Saul spent the last years of his life trying to kill David. While suffering this persecution, David wrote multiple Psalms. Many of these Psalms speak to how David found safety with God. Psalm 34:7-8 declare, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

Nevertheless, a relationship with our Creator does not guarantee an earthly life of protection and safety. Centuries of martyrs testify to this. In spite of his faith, for years David’s life was in danger. In spite of their earthly walk with the Son of God, most of Jesus’ Disciples died for their faith. What they, and all who share their faith, are guaranteed, is that, no matter their earthly fate, they will end up eternally safe in the Father’s Kingdom. My prayer—and yes, to really fix things like this, we must pray—is that those in Orlando and around the world will find this eternal safety in God’s loving arms.

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Radical Islam Again Terrorizes America (UPDATE #3)

As the death toll is now at 50 (with dozens more injured), the Islamic terrorism that struck Orlando, Florida a few hours after midnight this morning is the third-worst terror attack (behind 9/11 and Oklahoma City) on U.S. soil. The shooter has been identified as 29-year-old Islamist, Omar Mateen from Fort Pierce, Florida. Reportedly, Mateen entered the homosexual nightclub Pulse just after 2 a.m. armed with multiple guns, including an AR-15. Just before he started his slaughter, Mateen called 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS.

Nevertheless, liberal leaders in the U.S. continue to have their heads in the sand when it comes to Islam, violence, and terrorism. This morning, Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told Meet the Press that the real culprit in the Orlando attack is the lack of gun control. Thus the mantra of the left in these atrocities continues: ignore Islam and blame guns.

When first speaking on camera of the Orlando massacre, radical liberal, Congressman Alan Grayson, whose district includes the Orlando area, refused to mention Islam.

During his press conference this afternoon on the Orlando atrocity, President Obama also refused to mention anything about Islam. In spite of the evidence, Obama said that his administration had reached "no definitive judgment" on the motivations of the terrorist. He did of course continue to blame the gun culture in America for this type of violence.

Moments after Obama's press conference, ISIS claimed responsibility for the Orlando massacre. How sad the leader of the free world refused to state the obvious, and moments later our enemies had to set him straight.

Let me again make an important distinction here: radical Christians want to guard the sanctity of marriage, call homosexuality the sin that it is, and help those who are struggling with sexual sin find hope and healing. Radical Islamists want to murder homosexuals and other such "infidels." (See: Radical Christianity vs. Radical Islam.) As many will highlight this as an attack on the homosexual community, another distinction is important here: Remember that, for years now ISIS has been slaughtering Christians all over the world. Thousands have been murdered and the Obama administration had to be begged to call such slaughter the genocide that it is.

Let us pray for all of those in Orlando whose hearts are broken at the loss of their loved ones. Let us pray for our national leaders to see this world through the wisdom of God's eternal truths. Let us pray for those who are deceived by the enemy of all of humanity. And let us pray that God's Kingdom would come, and that His will would be done.

UPDATE: In April of this year, speaking on "women's issues" at an Orlando-area mosque--the Husseini Islamic Center--a radical imam from Iran said that the "compassionate" thing to do for homosexuals was to kill them. "Death is the sentence," said Sheikh Farrokh Sekaleshfar, later adding, "Out of compassion, let's get rid of them now." Tellingly, off-camera, one of the members of the mosque told a reporter that Sekaleshfar's words were "well received and not particularly controversial."

How likely is it that Mateen was a member of, or at least attended, this mosque?

Also telling, note that the words (from the video) of the representative of the "Interfaith Council of Central Florida," the "Rev." Bryan Fulwider:

"These issues around homosexuality and the decrying of it or denouncing of it by religion takes away, often, from our really important task of helping our community be a better community."

This is the typical liberal drivel when it comes to Islam. Note his use of the word "religion," and--like Obama--his avoidance of any reference to Islam. Obviously he is wanting to link Christians who consider homosexuality a sin with Muslims who want to kill homosexuals and other such "infidels." In other words, never mind the facts, liberals want to further their narrative on Christianity so they can further their political objectives when it comes to the homosexual agenda. (A personal note to "Rev." Fulwider: You're never going to help your community by refusing to see sin for what it is.)

Also, reports out now reveal that Mateen's terror act is another example of a "known wolf" attack. The Daily Caller is reporting that the FBI opened files on Mateen in 2013 and 2014. The question that must be asked by the media: Was the investigation of Mateen shut down because of Obama administration political correctness?

UPDATE 2: One important way that the Christian community--or those like-minded--can be the hands and feet of Jesus in this (or future similar) incident(s): give blood. Because of their lifestyle choices, and the risk of the spread of disease, those sexually active in the homosexual community are not eligible to give blood.

UPDATE 3: I just got word of this today, and it comes as no surprise. Chick-fil-A again illustrates what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. While hundreds stood in line to donate blood for the hospitalized victims of the radical Islamic terrorism that struck Orlando early Sunday morning, the Orlando-area Chick-fil-A--normally closed on Sundays--called in its employees to serve their famous chicken fillets and iced tea--free of charge--to the blood donors and first responders who answered the call for the Orlando victims. A Chick-fil-A spokesman declared, "While we have a corporate policy that firmly states we are closed for business on Sundays, there have been rare cases that move our local operators to respond with food donations to help communities in need. The events in Orlando stirred our local restaurant owners and their teams to band together to provide nourishment to first responders as well as volunteers who donated blood."

Trevor Thomas

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Target Declares Itself "Committed to the Complete Overhaul of American Society as it Pertains to Sex"

A representative from the American Family Association (AFA) attended today's meeting of Target shareholders in southern California. AFA's Abraham Hamilton III was present to again express concern towards Target's recent policy change that allows men into women's restrooms. According to reports from One News Now, Target did more than triple-down on its perverse restroom policy.

According to Hamilton, Target's response to the concerns raised by AFA was,
"We don't care what you have to say. We don't care what the American Family Association represents. We don't care what those people who signed your petition represent. We are committed to the complete overhaul of American society as it pertains to sex."
Based on this response, AFA declared that it would step-up it's boycott efforts of Target. Hamilton declared that "Father's Day is right around the corner ... and even back-to-school efforts, [so] we plan to increase and expand our boycott effort because Target has put us in an unenviable position by saying We don't care what you think - so we're going to have to make them care what we think."

And remember, another way to make Target "care what we think" is, the very first time a sexual predator attacks a victim in a Target restroom, Target must be vigorously sued for every penny allowed. The only thing these amoral fools seem to understand is their financial bottom line.

Trevor Thomas

Friday, June 3, 2016

Will Further Perversions of Title IX Ruin Women’s Athletics? (UPDATED)

Quick (no web searching!), who was the 2016 NCAA Division I women’s basketball champion? (Don’t tell me that your office didn’t do a women’s NCAA tournament bracket contest!) Okay, given that they’ve (UConn) won it four times in-a-row, that’s too easy. Let’s try again: Who was the last (2015) WNBA champion? (Hint: They’ve won it four of the last five seasons.) Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know either, and twice in their recent five-year championship run they defeated the team from my home state in the championship series.

Even better: Can you name five WNBA teams? How about five WNBA players? Last year, the most watched women’s sporting event of all-time occurred. What was it? Can you name the teams or five players (a hint!) who competed? Neither could I.

Speaking of most-watched sporting events, of the 50 most-watched sporting events of 2015, 43 of them were NFL games. Only one was a female sporting event (the answer to the third question in the previous paragraph: last year’s Women’s World Cup final). I know, including the NFL just isn’t fair. Nevertheless, of the 50 most-watched non-NFL sporting events of 2015, only two were women’s events. Even non-humans outperform women’s sports in viewership—three of the 2015 non-NFL top 50 were horse racing events.

In spite of such glaring consumer-based evidence—and as fast as Bernie Sanders can dodge a question on Venezuela and socialism—liberals across the U.S. continue to insist that we must have “equality” when it comes to sports in America. When it comes to college and high school athletics, the infamous Title IX is the favorite instrument of liberals with which to discriminate in order to eliminate “discrimination.”

Enacted in 1972, Title IX benignly declares, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” In the initial hearings prior to the law being passed, very little mention was made of athletics. At that time, most of the focus was on the hiring and employment practices of federally funded educational institutions—especially colleges and universities.

Of course Title IX soon devolved into a weapon used to impose radical feminist ideology upon public colleges and universities. This is especially the case with college athletics.

In the 44-year history of Title IX, hundreds of men’s college athletic programs have been killed, with tens of thousands of male athletes losing the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level. In 1981 there were 146 Division I men’s wrestling programs. Today, only about half of that number (77) exists. According to the Government Accountability Office, from 1981 to 1999 a total of 171 college wrestling programs (all divisions) were eliminated. Since 1980, about 80 percent of Division I men’s gymnastics teams have been lost (from nearly 80 teams down to only 15).

On the other hand, colleges and universities are literally inventing opportunities for female athletes. For example, with 89 participants—which is 40 percent larger than the average NCAA Division I rowing program—the women’s rowing team at the University of Iowa is the second largest athletic program (behind football). According to a recent article in The Gazette, in order to create more opportunities for college females to participate in athletics, rowing teams across the U.S. “are unique in that they have a novice division for freshmen, most of whom have never rowed.”

This is unsurprising, as very few high schools in the U.S.—and none in Iowa—offer girls rowing. Thus, in order to fill Title IX quotas, schools are reduced to “recruiting” female rowers from their own campuses. Women’s college rowing teams scour their campuses in search of women who are “tall and athletic.” Instead of inflated rosters on existing sports teams, some women’s sports advocates are calling for new sports opportunities for females such as lacrosse or ice hockey. Yet scant numbers of high schools (less than 6%—about 2,200 teams out of more than 37,000 high schools) across the U.S. offer girl’s lacrosse. Even fewer offer ice hockey.

And virtually none of these college women’s teams produce revenues that can support their budgets. In the 2014-2015 season, the University of Iowa women’s rowing team’s net revenue was less than one-tenth of its operating budget. Almost every women’s college athletics program in America loses money. (Consistently, at the collegiate level, only football and men’s basketball make money.)

And this is true of women’s professional sports teams as well. On the heels of winning the 1999 World Cup and the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics, incorrectly sensing a growing interest in women’s soccer, American investors created the Women’s United Soccer Association. This professional women’s soccer league lasted only three seasons and lost over $100 million dollars. In 2009 the Women’s Professional Soccer league began play. It too lasted only three seasons.

The most “successful” American professional women’s sports league is the WNBA. Yet it was 14 seasons before a single WNBA team actually made money. It’s nearly impossible to find the hard figures—almost certainly because there is virtually no one in the mainstream sports media who wishes to acknowledge the truth—but the best I can tell, in nearly 20 years of operation, the WNBA as a whole has yet to turn a profit. (It’s only lasted as long as it has because it’s been financially propped up by the NBA.) Tellingly, as of 2014, over 50 NBA players made more money than every WNBA player combined.

There will never be “gender equality” when it comes to athletics, because human genders are not—and will never be—equal. Men are bigger, faster, and stronger than women. And “bigger, faster, and stronger” makes for more exciting and interesting sports. What’s more, as most anyone not devoted to a liberal worldview who’s observed human beings for at least 15 minutes was already aware, men are naturally more physically aggressive than are women. As Psychology Today points out:

The fact that males are more aggressive and more violent is reflected by their anatomy itself; in many animals species they are heavier, more muscular, better armed with means of attack and defense. In humans, for example, the arms of men are, on average, 75 percent more muscular than those of women; and the top of a male body is 90 percent stronger that the top of a female body [Bohannon, 1997; Abe et al., 2003, apud Goetz, 2010, p. 16]. Also, men are taller, they have denser and heavier bones, their jaw is more massive, their reaction time is shorter, their visual acuity is better, their muscle/fat ratio is greater, their heart is bulkier, their percentage of hemoglobin is higher, their skin is thicker, their lungs bigger, their resistance to dehydration is higher etc. In other words, from all points of view, men are more suited for battle than women, and these skills are native.

And as Ann Coulter noted over a decade ago, “Competitive sports are ritualized forms of fighting, and boys like to fight.” In other words, sports—especially those involving heavy contact—is a form of battle, and in spite of what the Obama administration would have us believe, men are much more suited for battle than are women. No amount of legislation or other forms of legal wrangling is going to change these facts.

But as we all know, liberalism has never let facts get in the way of their agenda, and with new efforts derived from an even more perverse interpretation of Title IX, liberals may have finally found a way to make women’s sports more interesting: let men compete as women.

Given the moral depths to which our culture has sunk on sex and sexuality, it’s very easy these days to find “transgender” advocates touting Title IX as giving students wide-ranging “rights” to live a lie. Among many other crazy things, on “transgender and gender non-conforming students,” The National Center for Transgender Equality declares:

  • You have the right to equal educational opportunities regardless of your gender, including your gender identity or expression, or your race, nationality, or disability. This includes not being punished or excluded from school activities or events [read: sports] because you are transgender or gender non-conforming.
  • You have the right to use restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that are consistent with your gender identity, and can’t be forced to use separate facilities.

As early as five years ago the NCAA “Office of Inclusion” produced a document that, among many other crazy things, recommended allowing humans who were born male to compete as females. They piously and ignorantly declared that assumptions commonly made about humans born male who wish to pretend they are female “are not well founded.”

Ignoring sound science and common sense, the June 2016 edition of the “science” magazine Cosmos concludes that, “It’s only a matter of time before trans female athletes compete in the Olympics,” and “they will not have an edge over the rest of the field.”

The state of Alaska is already allowing boys to compete against girls. Just days ago, KTUU in Anchorage reported that Nattaphon Wangyot—who was born male but identifies as a female—was allowed to represent Haines High School in the women’s 3A 200-meter race at the state track meet. I wonder what poor girl was kept out of the meet as the result of such blatant discrimination. Wangyot also played volleyball and basketball, presumably on the girl’s teams. I wonder what poor girls lost playing time as the result of having a boy participate on their team.

Given that we now live in a culture that has legally redefined the oldest institution in the history of humanity, whether we’re talking about locker rooms or restrooms, it should come as little surprise that we are now debating what is a male and what is a female. However, no one seems to be pointing out that this type of perverse thinking ONLY hurts (real) female athletes. If mental illness and hormone therapy were really all that’s necessary to level the playing field, why are no “transgender males” (females pretending to be men) beating (real) men, at any type of elite level, in any sport? In the combined 276-year history of MLB, the NFL, and the NBA, no human being born a female has ever been a regular member of any of those leagues.

Real women better rise up and notice what is happening. If this is the path the homosexual agenda (which includes the transgender apologists) now wants to take, Title IX (ironically) is now being used to render women athletics a farce.

(See this column at American Thinker and The Patriot Post.)

UPDATE: Some interesting recent articles (on the state of professional women's athletics) courtesy of some folks at the Free Republic (thanks DWW!):

U.S. women’s hockey team scrimmaging against high school boys with mixed results

What happened to girl power? Australia's national women's soccer team the Matildas lose 7-0 to an under FIFTEENS boys' side

UPDATE 2: It seems that the guy competing against girls at the high school state track meet in Alaska got 3rd place in the 200-meter race! So this is where radical feminism has taken us: guys taking medals from girls! I guess there's no end to the absurdity that liberalism will yield.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Reminder: Fiscal Conservatism Works

A new report by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University again reminds us of the value of good common-sense conservatism when it comes to government spending and taxes. The report “Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition” reveals that states run by conservatives are in much better financial shape than states dominated by liberal politicians.

This handy chart by Investor’s Business Daily reveals the top 10 and bottom 10 according to the report:

This map by the Mercatus Center reveals the rankings of all 50 states and Puerto Rico:

The states are ranked according to five separate metrics:

  • Cash solvency. Does a state have enough cash on hand to cover its short-term bills?
  • Budget solvency. Can a state cover its fiscal year spending with current revenues, or does it have a budget shortfall?
  • Long-run solvency. Can a state meet its long-term spending commitments? Will there be enough money to cushion it from economic shocks or other long-term fiscal risks?
  • Service-level solvency. How much “fiscal slack” does a state have to increase spending if citizens demand more services?
  • Trust fund solvency. How much debt does a state have? How large are its unfunded pen-sion and healthcare liabilities?

According to the report, the worst states are plagued by two common characteristics: massive debt, and unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities. Of course, it’s this type of accounting that Obama has brought to the White House.

As liberal-led states flirt with bankruptcy, they also continue to wage war on free speech and moral absolutes. As recent headlines reveal, California wants to prosecute those who openly deny liberal dogma on climate change, and Massachusetts wants to legalize gender perversion.

Remember, as I’ve noted before, the states are “laboratories for democracy.” As we’ve seen (and continue to see) with the homosexual agenda (same-sex “marriage,” et al), what liberals are attempting at the state level they will bring to the federal level. That’s something worth remembering come November.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016

To Save Child, Gorilla is Killed

Cincinnati Zoo officials had to shoot and kill a 17 year-old gorilla after the gorilla grabbed and dragged a four year-old boy who had fallen into the gorilla's environment. The boy was with the gorilla for about 10 minutes before zoo officials put the gorilla down. Video showing the boy in the presence of the gorilla is below.

I suppose the only question now is how long before we have to endure the PETA protests? After all, under their perverse worldview, what difference is there between a gorilla and a boy?

Trevor Thomas

Friday, May 27, 2016

Katie Couric Reminds Us: NEVER Trust the Liberal Media

In case you didn't already know: Liberals like Katie Couric don't like guns or gun owners. (I wonder if she likes the history of guns?) Several media outlets (see: here, here, and here) are reporting on how Couric and certain members of her staff at Yahoo News deceptively edited their "Under the Gun" video. The editing attempts to make pro-gun Americans looked foolishly stumped over a simple question about background checks, felons, and terrorists.

I keep having to say this about liberals in politics and the media, but I'll say it again: NO ONE should be surprised by this. When one operates outside the bounds of moral absolutes, virtually any action that furthers a liberal's worldview is fair game. However, the gun-owners of the Virginia Citizens Defense League were smart and offer us a great lesson.

In ANY situation involving the liberal media, protect yourself. Record your sessions (as did the members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League) and have witnesses to any exchanges. If any deception is attempted, hit back with the truth quickly, forcefully, and as voluminously as possible.

Trevor Thomas

Monday, May 23, 2016

A (not so) Brief History of the Gun (Redux)

Given California’s recent unprecedented attempts at gun-control, given a U.S. Supreme Court that’s a justice short and now evenly divided when it comes to a modern liberal’s scary ideas on gun-control, and given the NRA’s recent endorsement of Donald Trump for U.S. President, I thought it time to revisit one of my favorite topics: guns.

I love guns. I grew up with them. My father (an avid and excellent hunter) owned (and still owns) many. One of my most memorable gifts as a young man was a single-shot 410 shotgun. Before I was old enough to own a real gun, my friends and I were quite skilled in using all sorts of scrap wood, duct tape, nails, and so on to manufacture the most magnificent replicas. Back then, if I was not playing with some sort of ball, I was in some sort of battle.

As debates about guns and gun rights in America rage, truly to understand the gun, one needs to look at its history. The story of the gun is a fascinating and riveting look not only at history, but science, business, politics, justice, and morality as well. Throw in a great deal of ingenuity, a good deal of heroism, and a small dose of romance, and the story of the gun is the world’s greatest tale of human invention.

The gun’s story begins with the invention (or discovery) of gunpowder. Gunpowder most likely was invented just prior to 1000 A.D. It became rather prominent around the turn of the twelfth century. Theories abound about who actually invented gunpowder, but no one really knows.

According to noted historian Ian Hogg, “The first positive statement relating to gunpowder appears in a document written in 1242 by Roger Bacon entitled On the Miraculous Power of Art and Nature.” Hogg also notes that, since, during that period, “fiery compositions” were considered to be an element of the “Black Arts,” Bacon, a Franciscan friar, concealed his formula in an anagram (which remained unsolved for over 600 years).

Early guns were really cannons. The first illustration of a cannon appears in a 1326 work entitled On the Duties of Kings prepared for King Edward III of England. These early cannons fired large stone balls—sometimes weighing up to 200 pounds. However, such stones were still lighter than iron shot of a similar diameter, and due to the relative weakness of early gunpowder, were safer to use.

Such cannons were massive and thus, difficult to move. Smaller calibers that were more mobile were much desired. This led to the development of the “hand-gonne.” These were simply miniature iron or bronze cannon barrels attached to the end of a lengthy wooden staff. (A 1475 German manuscript depicts such a device.)

By the 15th century, “arms of fire” with a lock, stock, and a barrel—the same basic look we have today—became somewhat common. The first weapon that could be carried, loaded, and discharged by a single man became known as the matchlock. This was a muzzle-loading gun that was discharged when a hand-lit match was lowered into the flash pan.

The term “lock” most likely originated from the fact that the gun-lock operated in a similar fashion to the locking mechanisms of the day. American Pilgrims were very familiar with this gun.

However, these guns were not very accurate or reliable. They could be quite dangerous to use (as the burning wick necessary to ignite the powder in the flash pan was often in close proximity to the stores of powder on the user), and were virtually useless in wet weather. The matchlock also was not very useful for hunting, as the burning wick alerted most every type of game.

A new lock design for igniting the powder was needed. Thus, around 1500 A.D. the world was introduced to the wheel lock. The wheel lock made use of a centuries-old process for lighting fires: striking stone against steel and catching the sparks. No longer was a cumbersome and dangerous burning cord necessary for discharging a gun.

For the first time, a firearm could now be carried loaded, primed, and ready to fire. Again, the actual inventor is unknown, but Leonardo da Vinci had one of the earliest drawings of a wheel lock design.

The wheel lock also led to another advancement in firearms: the pistol. For the first time, a weapon could now be carried concealed. It was at this point that many of the first laws against carrying firearms came into being.

Like the matchlock, the wheel lock had its short-comings. If the wrench necessary to wind the wheel was lost, the weapon was rendered useless. Also, with over 50 individual parts, the wheel lock was of a complicated and intricate design. This made the gun very expensive to own and difficult and expensive to maintain.

Efforts toward a simpler, less expensive, and more reliable gun led to the next significant step in firearms: the flintlock. The first flintlock design was by the Frenchman Marin le Bourgeoys around 1615. The flintlock was a more simple design and most of the moving parts were inside the gun. This made it much more weather-proof than its predecessors.

For over 200 years, the flintlock was the standard firearm of European armies. It was used in the greatest battles of the 18th century and helped determine many of the rulers of Europe, and helped set the borders of many European nations. The flintlock brought to an end the armor-wearing knight and also saw the end of the Napoleonic wars.

The flintlock was also the customary firearm of the young United States and was instrumental in our battle for independence. In fact, to battle lawlessness, Indians, and to put food on the table, the gun was the most essential and prized tool in early America. As soon as they were old enough properly to hold and fire a flintlock, many young American boys were expected to help feed their families. Thus, generations of boys growing up and using guns from a young age played no small part in America winning her Independence. “The Americans [are] the best marksmen in the world,” lamented a minister of the Church of England in 1775.

The first original American contribution to firearms was the Kentucky rifle (which was made in Pennsylvania). This gun was superior to most every European contemporary. It was longer, lighter, and used a smaller caliber than other muzzle-loading guns at the time. Most importantly, as the name indicates, the Kentucky gun was “rifled.” This process, which involves cutting helical grooves inside the gun barrel, greatly increased accuracy.

A bullet fired from a rifled gun spins and thus helps stabilize any bullet imperfections (which were usually significant in the 18th century) that otherwise would distort flight (think bow-and-arrow vs. slingshot).

In spite of all this, most American Revolutionaries still carried smooth-bore muskets. Kentucky rifles did take longer to load than smooth-bore muskets, and often the volume of fire was/is more important than accuracy. General George Washington did make significant use of American marksmen armed with the Kentucky rifle. These riflemen played major roles (as in picking off British officers) in such conflicts as the Battle of Saratoga (see Morgan’s Riflemen).

The birth of a new nation meant the need for a national armory. In 1777, General Washington settled on a strategic location in Springfield Massachusetts as the setting for the armory. In addition to being important for our national defense, the Springfield Armory led the world in technological advancements that would change manufacturing forever.

The manufacture of firearms at Springfield helped usher in the age of mass production. An ingenious inventor named Thomas Blanchard, who worked for the Springfield Armory for five years, created a special lathe for the production of wooden gun stocks.

Such a lathe allowed for the easy manufacture of objects of irregular shape. This led, for example, to the easy mass production of shoes. Many other technical industries—such as the typewriter, sewing machine, and the bicycle—were also born out of the gun industry. Factories that produced such products were often located near firearm manufacturers, as the firearms industry possessed the most skilled craftsman necessary for creating the complicated parts for such machines.

The Springfield Armory also introduced contemporary business practices to manufacturing. Concepts such as hourly wages, and cost accounting practices became customary at Springfield and were important steps in modernizing manufacturing.

The next step in firearms development came from a minister. Due to his severe frustration with the delay between trigger pull and gunfire (which too often allowed for the escape of his prized target: wild ducks) from his flintlock, the Reverend Alexander Forsyth invented the percussion cap.

Inside the cap is a small amount of impact sensitive explosive (like fulminate of mercury). Thus, muzzle-loading guns now did not have to rely on exposed priming powder to fire, were quicker to fire, and were almost completely weather-proof. However, gun users were still plagued by a centuries old problem: they were limited to a single shot before reloading. Enter Samuel Colt.

Making use of the percussion cap, in 1836 Colt (with the aid of a mechanic, John Pearson) perfected and patented a revolving handgun. Although little of Colt’s design was original, he ingeniously brought together existing features of previous guns and fashioned them into a mechanically elegant and reliable revolver.

Along with being an inventor, Colt was a shrewd and capable businessman. His genius was not only in his gun design, but in the techniques used to manufacture it. His guns were made using interchangeable parts (made by machine and assembled by hand).

In 1847, with an order of 1,000 pistols from the U.S. Army, and no factory to build them, Colt looked to noted gun-maker Eli Whitney (often called “the father of mass production”) to help fill the order. It was the production of guns, and men such as Whitney and Colt, that led the way in the pioneering and perfection of the assembly line.

When Colt’s American patent expired in 1857 there were many who stood ready to take the next step in firearms. None more so than a pair of men who had spent much of their time perfecting ammunition: Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson. In 1856, just in time to take advantage of Colt’s expiring patent, their partnership produced the world’s first revolver that fired a fully self-contained cartridge. This cartridge was a “rimfire” variety that Smith and Wesson patented in 1854.

As handguns were progressing, long arms were beginning to catch up. This is where another American icon enters our history: a wealthy shirt maker named Oliver Winchester. Winchester took over a fledgling arms company in 1855 and in 1857 hired a gunsmith named Tyler Henry to turn it around.

By 1860, Henry had created a breech-loading lever-action repeating rifle (firing 16 rounds). The Henry Repeating Rifle was a tremendously popular, useful, and reliable gun. It was this weapon that began to make the single-shot muzzle-loading rifle obsolete.

In 1866, Winchester improved on the Henry rifle and produced a model named after himself. The Winchester model 1866 fired 18 rounds, had a wooden forearm to make it less hot to handle, and contained the familiar side-loading port.

It was in 1873 that the two most legendary guns of the Old West were produced—the Winchester model 1873 (which was a larger caliber than the 1866 model) and the Colt model 1873, otherwise known as “The Peacemaker.” Carrying on with the savvy business sense of its founder, the Colt Company built this model to hold the exact same ammunition as the Winchester model 1873.

Integral in the success of Winchester Arms was the greatest gunsmith in the history of America (and maybe the world): John Browning. Over a 19 year relationship Winchester manufactured 44 firearms designed and built by Browning. A devout Mormon, Browning held 128 gun patents and sold designs not only to Winchester, but also Colt, Remington, Savage, and Fabrique Nationale.

Browning had his hand in almost every type of firearm design. Everything from single-shots and lever-actions to rifles and shotguns bears the influence of John Browning. Browning’s guns, along with those by Colt, Winchester, et al put more fire-power in the hands of an individual than ever before. However, they paled in comparison to what was next. With virtually every step in gun advancement, there were many attempts toward the same goal. This was no different for the “machine gun.”

Certainly the most famous of the early versions of the machine gun was the Gatling Gun. Mounted on a central axis with six rotating barrels, the Gatling Gun was fired by hand turning a rotating crank mounted on the side. Although not a true automatic, the Gatling could achieve several hundred rounds per minute.

The most successful and famous of the early fully automatic guns was the Maxim gun. Invented by an American-born Brit, Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, this gun was introduced in 1884. The maxim was completely automatic in the sense that it was “self-powered.”

In other words, using the tremendous amount of energy that was released when the gun was fired, it was now unnecessary for a discharged cartridge to be manually ejected and the next cartridge to be manually loaded. With the Maxim gun, this action continues with a single trigger pull. Maxim’s gun could fire 10 rounds per second.

Maxim spent several years studying how to put the recoil energy of a gun to good use. He patented virtually every possible way of automatically operating a gun. So much so that, as Ian Hogg put it, “he could have probably quoted [only] one of his many patents and stifled machine gun development for the next 21 years, since almost every successful machine gun design can be foreseen in a Maxim patent.”

Men like Browning, Baron Von Odkolek, John Thompson, Mikhail Kalashnikov, and several others built off of Maxim’s success, and machine guns became smaller and lighter. Browning is perhaps most famous for his automatic designs. By the 1890’s Browning had designs that were vastly superior to the Gatling guns used by the U.S. military at the time.

This brings us into the 20th century where fully automatic weapons that could be carried and operated by a single man were common place and necessary for any successful army. When the U.S. entered WWI our soldiers were armed with rifles that were significantly inferior to those of our enemies and allies. In 1918 Browning equipped the U.S. military with his .30 caliber Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR).

Though it was highly successful, the BAR did not become standard issue for the U.S. military until 1938. Towards the end of WWI, with the introduction of the tank, to serve as an anti-tank weapon, Browning upgraded his .30 caliber design to a .50 caliber. This machine gun was officially designated as the Browning M2, but was affectionately referred to as “Ma Deuce.”

Though improving tank armor made it ineffective as an anti-tank weapon, the M2 became standard equipment for many U.S. vehicles, including planes and ships. Still in use today, and with nearly 100 years of service, the M2 is the longest serving fully automatic weapon in the U.S. arsenal.

From before the founding of this great nation, firearms have been essential to the preservation of life, the enforcement of law and justice, and the establishment and protection of liberty. Our Founding Fathers understood well how important the gun was to the founding and maintaining of liberty in the U.S.

Thus, they gave us: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…” And just what is the “militia?” No less than the co-author of the 2nd Amendment, George Mason, tells us: “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people ... To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” Even Jesus Christ Himself understood the significance of an armed man. In Luke He states, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.”

What’s more, the technology that drove the progression of firearms and the improved manufacturing and business practices adopted at gun factories propelled the U.S. into the Industrial Age. America owes much to the gun. Americans, whether they are gun owners or not, whether they love them or despise them, would be wise to remember all that the gun has meant to this nation and hope and pray that guns remain in the hands of its citizens.

Update: Most of this piece is contained in a chapter in my soon to be released book: The Miracle and Magnificence of America. (Click link for a preview.)

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World