New Book

A Unique and Revealing Look at America!---The Miracle and Magnificence of America. If you enjoy this site, please consider purchasing my recent book. Click here to get it at Amazon. See here for more information.

Book Banner

Book Facebook

HELP US GET THE WORD OUT: If you "Like" this page, please visit our new Facebook page for The Miracle and Magnificence of America and "Like" it. Thank you!!!

Latest News/Commentary

Latest News/Commentary:

News/Commentary Archives:

News/Commentary Archives:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Most Dangerous Place in America

Not long after the recent shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, Dr. Janis Orlowski, the chief operating officer of MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where three of the shooting victims of mass murderer Aaron Alexis were being treated, spoke with a rare bit of moral clarity on the situation. “There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate…There is something wrong, and the only thing that I can say is we have to work together to get rid of it. I would like you to put my trauma center out of business. I really would. I would like to not be an expert on gunshots.”

Saying that this is “a challenge to all of us,” Orlowski concluded, “This is not America.” Sadly, what Aaron Alexis perpetrated is becoming all too American, but not for the reasons many would think.

After this most recent shooting massacre, the left again parroted its predictable rants against guns while calling for more and better gun laws. Diane Feinstein asked, “When will enough be enough?” Her statement declared, “Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country.” Of course, in the mind of Feinstein and her ilk, the “responsibility” of Congress is to pass more laws against guns.

Liberal pundit Leonard Pitts wonders if we’re all crazy. In Pitts’ world Americans are “crazy” because the right to bear arms in the U.S., as declared in our 2nd Amendment, is an antiquated notion because it was “written in an era when muskets were state of the art and citizen militias guarded the frontier.”

Obama himself used the massacre to call for “basic actions” to toughen our nation’s gun laws. Never mind that, as Reason’s J.D. Tuccille points out, the strict gun control measures that liberals love were already in place at the Washington Navy Yard. Alexis passed a background check and legally purchased his shotgun.

Tragically ironic, as Tuccille also notes, Alexis was aided greatly by the fact that, for the most part, U.S. military institutions are gun-free zones. Only in a culture so corrupted by the liberal mindset would military institutions be vulnerable to a mass shooting by a civilian.

Some have speculated that the U.S. has suffered the violence committed by men like Alexis, Adam Lanza, and Seung-Hui Cho because of our coddling of the mentally ill. I believe that there is some truth to this.

However, as I noted earlier this year, (referring to prominent psychotherapist Gary Greenberg) there are many problems with modern psychiatry. Namely, in an attempt to gain medical relevance, modern psychiatry has eliminated the moral aspect behind many behaviors. As Greenberg himself points out, “This society is very wary of using the term ‘evil.’”

Being unwilling to recognize evil for what it is has plagued this nation for decades now. Such willful ignorance of what is truly evil is, among other things, why our culture is so plagued with violence. Dr. Mark Rutland, former president of Southeastern University and, most recently, Oral Roberts University, sheds some much needed light on this matter.

In a sermon I heard about a dozen years ago, Dr. Rutland recalled a news story that heralded the accomplishments of a single mother. She was so touted because she had raised five children on her own in a housing project in Chicago. Four of them went on to graduate from college. By almost every measure, she and her children were deemed successful.

What was particularly interesting to Dr. Rutland was the tag-line of the story, which concluded that the children were raised in “the most dangerous place in America.” Speaking of dangerous places in America, just three days after the D.C. Naval Yard shooting, in a scene that plays out all too often in certain U.S. cities, 13 people were shot in a drive-by shooting at a gang-infested park in Chicago.

Earlier this year, NeighborhoodScout.com released its report on the 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in America. The usual suspects were at the top of the list. Four of the top 10 are in the city of Detroit. Three of the top 20 are in Chicago, with neighborhoods in Atlanta, St. Louis, and Houston also appearing.

However, as Dr. Rutland observed, the most dangerous place in America is not the city with the most gangs. It’s not the neighborhood where most the most drugs are dealt or where the most bullets fly, though certainly these are dangerous enough. “The most dangerous place in America is the place where authority is not observed and where rebellion is inculcated into the lives of our young people.”

For decades, millions of American youths, 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 that has mocked the laws and the works of God. We are a nation full of disobedience. “The most dangerous place in America,” noted Dr. Rutland, “is the place that is filled with disrespect, irreverence, and the spirit of lawlessness—the spirit of disobedience.” Such rebellion is so dangerous because it moves us away from the protective covering of God.

Most every parent understands this well. How many of us have had our children pull themselves away from our protection and dash out into danger? What is our plea? “Stay here with me! Stay under my authority! Hold onto my hand! I can see things you can’t see. I can discern danger coming around the corner that you can’t. I can react faster. I have better judgment than you. If you pull away from me you’re in a dangerous place.”

And of course, so often we adults do the same thing with God. Is anyone really 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?”

Are we not a nation full of such rebellion? Good has become evil, and evil has become good. A man commits mass murder and so many of us look for answers 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.

Thus we are plagued not only with violence, but with greed, gluttony, slothfulness, selfishness, lust, 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.

A nation such as ours, founded on the ideas of liberty and freedom, must have the proper views on both God and man. Liberty cannot exist without a proper moral foundation. As Edmund Burke admonished us, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their appetites…Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free.”

Our Founders understood this. John Adams, writing in 1798, said that, should America assume “the language of justice and moderation while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

“There is a degree of depravity in mankind,” wrote James Madison in The Federalist Papers, “which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust.” In Federalist 51, Madison further captured such thought when he wrote, “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

We are certainly not angels, but neither are we without hope. However, until America understands what is truly wrong and evil in our society; until America decides to lay down the arms that we’ve taken up against God and submit to His authority and surrender to His love, we are in a dangerous place indeed.

Copyright 2013, 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

Monday, September 16, 2013

Putin's Right: There's Nothing Exceptional about Obama's America

After Comrade Putin’s New York Times Op-Ed where he lectures us on foreign policy and human rights, and then takes exception with the idea of “American exceptionalism,” politicians and pundits on both sides of the political spectrum thumped their chests and took turns explaining to Mr. Putin just how special America is. However, I think many, if not all of them, missed a significant point.

Note exactly what Putin said, and remember the current condition of America and the politics surrounding our present situation in Syria. Putin said, “I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is ‘what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.’ It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”

Putin has enthusiastically taken on Obama in debate over international politics and military interventionism. Why? Why would the leader of Russia so eagerly engage the U.S.—to the point that he would lecture us through our own (but sadly eager) press—in the highly volatile Syrian conflict? Because he doesn’t fear us, or better put, he doesn’t fear Barack Obama’s America.

With a seemingly clairvoyant sense of destiny, in late October of 2008, just prior to his first election as U.S. President, Obama declared, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America…” Vladimir Putin (along with many other world leaders eager for a U.S. demise) has been witness to this transformation and so far, likes what he sees.

The world is more chaotic and dangerous—especially the Middle East—than it was when Obama took office. Our foreign policy is mocked and in shambles. And as Putin well proves, our enemies are emboldened.

Of course, not only this, but our economy is still tedious at best. The labor force participation rate (63.2%) is the lowest it has been in 35 years. Looking more like a statistic from the nations that used to aspire to be like the U.S., more Americans depend on the government than ever before. A record number of Americans are on food stamps. In fact, for every job created during Obama’s presidency, two Americans enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.

Whether it’s the IRS, or Benghazi, or Fast and Furious, or the NSA surveillance program, Obama’s scandals pile up while he looks to distract. In a matter of weeks Obama looks to implement a widely unpopular massive federal healthcare program. (As we consider his handling of this, can anyone really be surprised by Syria?) And the Obama administration continues to push an energy policy that is largely rooted in the pseudo-science of man-made global warming (which Americans don’t even care enough about to oppose).

Saddest of all, what was once considered immoral in America is now celebrated. The plagues of abortion and same-sex marriage are preached from the White House. Democratic activists pray to god (presumably Molech), thanking him and asking for his blessing on abortion.

What’s more, liberals (the kind that vote for, and lead today’s Democrats) believe that Western “values” such as orgies, will liberate nations such as Iran and China. They boo the true and living God, and demand that American taxpayers pay for a convicted felon’s perversions.

When it comes to the true idea of American exceptionalism, such as that expressed by Rush Limbaugh and Carl Cannon, Comrade Putin could not be more wrong. However, Putin specifically took issue with Barack Obama’s idea of American exceptionalism. Sadly, Putin’s absolutely right. There is almost nothing in current U.S. policy, whether foreign or domestic, that is exceptional.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2013, 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, September 8, 2013

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

I know—the title is a cliché as old as liberalism itself, but evidently it can’t be said enough. Anyway, we should not be surprised. We have Obamacare and Obamaphones, so we may as well have Obamameals. Actually we’ve had Obamameals for awhile now, but you may just now be hearing of them. Yesterday, the AP reported that in Boston, school children carrying lunchboxes could become “a more unusual sight as parents learn about a federal program that is now providing all public school students in the city with free breakfast and lunch.”

The AP continues, “The nation's oldest school system has joined a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that has spread to 10 states and the District of Columbia that offers students two free meals every school day, whether or not their families can afford them.” Julia would be proud.

A column in USA Today last year noted, “Twelve million kids currently eat school breakfasts, but that number will soar. Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010, all schools with 40% low-income students will be allowed to offer free breakfasts and lunch to all students.” As the AP also notes, the HHFKA authorized $4.5 billion in new federal spending. The program will be available across the country next (2014-2015) school year.

According to the White House, the additional funding for the Child Nutrition Program is for 10 years. Do you think it will ever end? How long before we hear that it is the “right” of every (public) school child in America to be fully fed while they attend their government schools? After all, indoctrination goes down much easier on a full stomach.

The AP reported that Efrain Toledano, principal of the Maurice J. Tobin School in Boston, said that he expects the program will cut down on potential disruptions at the K-8 school by easing hunger pangs that could be linked to classroom misbehavior. “We know that calm stomachs means calm students who are ready to learn in classrooms.”

Well now, combine the effects of a “calm stomach” with those of Ritalin and Adderall, and our government schools will soon provide a great setting for the next season of The Walking Dead. (Gives new meaning to the movement to arm teachers, huh?)

What’s more, it seems that much of the motivation behind expanding the availability of “free” meals to kids in government schools is to remove the stigma that might come from receiving a handout. Just as when food stamps were replaced with EBT cards, liberals want all of us to feel better about receiving things from “Obama’s stash.”

“Besides easing hunger,” noted the AP, “school officials said, the program helps erase a stigma that plagued some students from poor families.” Yes, because it’s all about making everyone “feel” better, no matter the cost to the country, and in spite of the fact that “the USDA found that stigma had little to do with deterring kids from accepting free [meals].”

With the amount of welfare handed out by Big Government these days, is anyone surprised that there is little “stigma” attached to receiving a government handout! When all of us are standing there holding our hands out for the next Big Government benefit, there will be absolutely no stigma! And notice the lesson the children in government schools are getting: everybody’s got to be “equal,” and it’s the job of those in power to make sure this happens. It’s little wonder that minds bent in such a way grow up and vote for Democrats.

Of course this is just more rotten fruit born of the tree of liberalism that resides in the heart of Barack’s Candy Mountains. As I alluded to above, President Obama signed HHFKA into law in December of 2010. HHFKA easily passed the Democratic led House and Senate. So again, thanks to liberals and their party, we now have yet another Big Government program that not only will never die (until the collapse of the republic, that is), but almost certainly will grow.

Democrats will trumpet it as a success, and the moment anyone tries to whittle back the program, or dare-say kill it, they will howl that only a villain would take food away from a hungry child. The media will get their marching orders from the liberals in D.C. and provide the low-information voters with just the right amount of propaganda to ensure that the seemingly perpetual cycle of Big Government rolls on.

How ironic it was that a liberal proudly told us, “the era of Big Government is over.” Instead, we now have tens-of-millions of Americans who have come to believe not only that their lunch should be “free,” but also their health care, their transportation, their education, their phones, their housing, and so on. Also, more and more parents will be conditioned to the idea that it’s the government’s responsibility to feed their children.

We recently witnessed evidence of such conditioning with the fast-food worker walkouts. Millions of young Americans (who probably got their government school meals for “free”) have been duped into believing that it is the role of Big Government to ensure that they be paid a “living wage,” no matter the level of skill and effort that their job requires. As Rush pointed out, this is about control. “The smaller people's dreams, the easier time you're gonna have controlling them. The more simple their desires, the more simple and less complex, the easier it's gonna be to control them.”

Prior to the 2012 presidential election, after Obama presented us with his “entitlement darling,” Julia, I wrote that I hoped that there were not too many like her who vote. How naïve of me. Ben Franklin warned us, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” Must it come to this before enough eyes will be opened?

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2013, 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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A (not so) Brief History of the Gun

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.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2013, 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, September 1, 2013

On Parenting and Family, Bill O’Reilly Should Tell the Complete Story

With his latest column, Bill O’Reilly has weighed in on (as have so many, including me) the Miley Cyrus “demon-in-heat” (with her hair-horns and gyrations, isn’t that what she wanted us to think?) MTV dance debacle. Instead of completely focusing on the former Disney darling, Mr. O’Reilly takes parents to task—and, indirectly at least, accuses Miley’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus, of bad parenting.

“[There’s] an epidemic of bad parenting going on in America,” said O’Reilly. He’s right. With over 20 years of experience teaching in American high schools (public and private), the bad behavior—which is certainly no uncommon thing these days—of almost every troubled or struggling kid that I’ve encountered can be traced back to his or her home. As I’ve often noted, the breakdown of the family is deadly for America, or any nation.

Mr. O’Reilly also mentions the “collapse of the traditional family.” I wonder where he got his idea for the “traditional family?” Does Mr. O’Reilly believe that children should be raised by a loving mother and a father? Does he believe that both parents are necessary in the proper rearing of our nation’s children? It sure sounds like this is the case.

I wonder if O’Reilly considers the attempts (and successes) at redefining marriage in this nation as an attack on the “traditional family.” I mean, part of the whole premise of the position behind the pro-same-sex marriage crowd is that children don’t really need a mother and a father. This is how adoption laws got changed, and such a position also played a role in courts deciding that men can legally marry men, and women can legally marry women.

Where did Mr. O’Reilly get his notions on family and parenting? I would think that the Bible would have informed him, but surely that could not be the case. Remember, earlier this year, O’Reilly said, “If you’re going to stand up for heterosexual marriage, and exclude gay marriage if you’re going to do that, you’ve gotta do it outside the Bible. You can’t cite the Bible, because you’ll lose if you do.”

Seemingly unaware of his hypocrisy, Mr. O’Reilly bemoaned the fact that, “the powers that be are mostly afraid to mention the collapse of the traditional family, because secular-progressives attack any judgmental behavior on the part of a politician.” I suppose O’Reilly doesn’t consider that calling Christians who oppose same-sex marriage on biblical principles “Bible thumpers” is an attack on “judgmental behavior.”

I hate to pile on, but Mr. O’Reilly also noted that, “Sociologists well understand that chaos at home causes violent behavior, educational failure and social alienation among children.” I wonder (yes, O’Reilly causes one to “wonder” much with this piece) how his children are coping. It is now well known that Mr. O’Reilly and his former wife Maureen McPhilmy have gone through a very nasty divorce, with their two children caught right in the middle.

You see, the “truth is” that divorce has done a great deal more than same-sex marriage in wreaking devastation upon America’s children. Both are a plague on our culture, and are “gravely harming this nation.” I know very little of the circumstances of the O’Reilly-McPhilmy divorce. I am not claiming that, because of his divorce, Bill O’Reilly has no right to discuss family issues. However, as a very public figure with a large microphone, he would do well, as he encourages Billy Ray Cyrus, to note his own shortcomings and tell the complete story (even using some Scripture) when it comes to the breakdown of the family.

Copyright 2013, 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