Archive for History

Would I let my daughter join the military given the sexual assault crisis?

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 8.56.29 PMThough Senator John McCain is now a politician, he was also a Navy Pilot during the Vietnam War, and endured over 5 horrifying years as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. I have the utmost respect for his service in the Navy and for the honorable and brave way he gave years of his life for this Nation. Given all of this, I was saddened to hear him state that he would not recommend a female join the U.S. Navy. I have been in the Navy for almost 23 years. I went to bootcamp just prior to the Tailhook sexual harassment scandal. I wish I could tell you how far the Navy, in particular, has come over the last quarter of a century. Would I let my 17 year old daughter join the Navy? (By the way, she is about to start her Senior year in High School, and, yes – she is considering the U.S. Navy among her options.) My answer is YES! I most definitely WOULD allow my daughter, my baby girl, the strong young woman I raised, to join the finest Navy in the world.

There is a problem, no doubt about that.  For those who have been assaulted, it quickly turns a career full of service and pride into a nightmare, one where it used to be unclear if there was a safe person to tell. The military depends on your brothers (or sisters) in arms, your shipmates, your friends who are more like family, having your back when the going gets tough. It only takes one person in a unit, class, ship, or squadron to undermine the morale.

“Just last night, a woman came to me and said her daughter wanted to join the military and could I give my unqualified support for her doing so. I could not.” ~ Senator John McCain

I can tell you, and I promise you I am telling you the truth, the military is a nicer place than it was when I first went to boot camp 23 years ago.  There is still room for improvement, but the culture has adapted, and to change something so large in only a couple decades is quite remarkable. I think the change will begin to occur faster, and this current moment in history will be a “darkest before the dawn” moment.

In the last 2-3 years every single Sailor, from the most junior Seaman to the Admirals, have had more sexual assault prevention training than any other type of training combined. One point covered over and over during these sessions is how to safely report a sexual assault, including anonymously, if desired.  I believe that the reports are up because they have made it so easy and “safe” to report the bad behavior, and removed some of the reasons that ladies kept quiet in the past. It is still not perfect in that sense, but it is a lot better. I believe there are very clear ways for a person who has been assaulted to report their attack without fear of reprisal, but there are still consequences, even if they are not against a person’s career, reporting still does impact their life – a decision to report or not must still be made. This moment in our nation’s military will further change the culture, and make the honorable job even safer for our young women. People who have swept sexual assault cases under the rug will begin to retire, or will be hurried toward retirement as required based on poor decisions they made. The training will be intense for a few more years, we will train our Sailors to keep an eye out for the danger signs, and they will police each other, take care of each other as they have always done.  It will never go away 100%, as the military is truly a cross-section of society.

Should my daughter actually decide the US Navy is for her, we will sit down and have a serious talk about sexual assault and how her own decisions can reduce the chance of it happening to her.  This is not saying that it is ever the fault of the victim that a predator chose them, but she does have choices about how much she drinks, about the type of people she goes on liberty with, and how she conducts herself. Walking down a dark street at night does not give anyone permission to rape me, but if I were not walking down a dark street at all, that would remove one opportunity. One of the best things we can teach our children is situational awareness, including awareness of those around you, how they treat others, and protecting their own safety based on intuition.

Col. Jeff Cooper’s situational color code would apply, and if a person allows themselves to become excessively inebriated, they would be in the “white area”: Unaware and unprepared. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy or ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty, your reaction will probably be “Oh my God! This can’t be happening to me.”

Again, this does not give anyone permission to assault you, but how can you protect yourself when you are not aware of what is happening around you?

The Navy has core values, values that we are reminded of from the first day of bootcamp and I frequently hear people talk about these values in their retirement speeches after 20-30 years of service.  They are part of everything we do.  It is time that we truly weed out those who do not demonstrate Honor, Courage, and Commitment.  Honor in how they live, both in uniform and out.  Courage to step up and call out wrong when they see it, and Commitment to a stronger, healthier Navy.

John McCain, an Arizona Republican, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing examining whether all serious sexual crimes should be removed from the chain of command.

Guest Post: That’s What Makes Me Free

Screen Shot 2012-12-23 at 11.33.07 AMThis post was originally a comment on another post from a reader of this Blog, Richard.  I wanted everyone to read his thoughts:

People that are “anti-gun” consider themselves either smarter better or have a false sense of entitlement in the area of either psychological superiority or outright dictatorship type of power. The fact that they are willing to voluntarily segregate themselves is all too evident. History has taught us over and over that they are wrong. With the television has came news instantly seemingly in your front yard. Per Capita, the mass homicides are on par as much as ever in history. There are just more people and news travels instantly.

Jack the ripper was never formally caught, but a gun in the first victims hands would have made it where there was never such a name. There will always be serial killers and murderers and those who want to contain this great country like a cattle farm after we are disarmed. China has no jury and if you speak out, or are found to be an otherwise undesirable person, they walk you to the showers in the police station where you are executed typically with a single bullet in the back of the head. They can do this because their population has been disarmed. What would happen if our congress was to do the same things here? What if they were to simply try to pass a nationwide curfew? Or force people to live in government housing? Or force people to work bad government jobs? Or to take away social security? Or to tell you which god to believe in? Or to force your silence? Or to take your life?

The only way to understand the Anti-gun group is to realize that most of them are outright scared of guns and have been taught either by schools or by fearful parents that guns are bad. I have changed the opinions of some but only by bringing them to a shoot, usually without telling them in advance. Once they understand the basics the natural instinct to learn takes over and that’s when their opinions tend to become educated and actually reverse. You would think that when a person accidentally shoots themselves they would adopt the anti gun stance, but that is almost unheard of.

I challenge any person that is anti gun to find a Jewish person and ask them of their history. It averages 20 years after gun laws get passed before genocide happens.  It has happened in the last 20 years right here on earth. Over and over; again and again people still forget the lessons learned. There is not one country that would not like to “own” this great land. We would not need a military if we were not at times in danger. Your opinion that you voice is only legal for one reason and that is because we have fought and will fight for equality. We have fought and will fight against tyranny. We have fought and will fight for the helpless.

This is the United States of America. There are plenty of countries any person that does not like our rights is free to move to. Many have gun bans but also have a history of genocide as well. They are right now murdering families in parts of the world simply because they are Christians and a law was passed to take away the same weapons that are used against them.

I choose not to carry a firearm but I appreciate having the choice. That’s what makes me free!

FN FAL: “The Right Arm of the Free World”

I have the most interesting friends. One fully embraces authentic older weapons. He has a very eclectic collection of rifles and pistols – every one with a story. I’ll talk about some of his guns from time to time, as they fascinate me. Recently, he has been building an authentic replica of a Fusil Automatique Léger (FAL) built by the Belgian armaments manufacturer, Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FN). Fusil Automatique Léger translates to “Light Automatic Rifle”. The short name for this rifle is “FN FAL”.

I had to write this article to educate myself, as I did not know anything about a FN FAL. According to the front page of the FAL Files, it was originally designed to fire a 7.92mm Kurz cartridge, developed by the Germans in WWII.  Following the war, it was adapted to use a 7.62mmx51 (.308 Winchester) cartridge (as the .308 became the NATO standard.)  This classic post-war battle rifle was sold to the militaries in over 90 countries.

7.92×33mm Kurz Vs. 7.62 x 51 NATO (.308)

Watch this video from Discovery to see the FN FAL in action.  It covers the specs of the rifle and gives a quick history.

I will get a chance to use this rifle, and I am excited to try. Because we are in California, it will have “bullet button” to release the magazine, he is having the upper manufactured in the USA, and it will be set up for semi-automatic fire.  After watching that video I would never want to fire the FN FAL in full auto – what a waste of good ammo!  This thing is a beast!

The upper will arrive in the next month, and after that – I will get the opportunity to send some serious lead down range.  When I do – you will be the first know.

Civil War Rifles and Revolvers on Display in Illinois

A rare collection of rifles and revolvers used by soldiers on both sides of the Civil War is currently on display at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield, Il.

Among the items on on display is an Allen & Wheelock revolver. Though it was one of the most advanced handguns of the 1860s, only 1,000 pistols were made because of a patent infringement case between the Allen & Wheelock and Smith & Wesson companies.

Also on display is a Colt revolving rifle. The U.S. government had bought hundreds of them before the war, but most were shipped to southern locations and ended up in the hands of Confederate soldiers. Watch the video below to learn more about the revolving rifle, very interesting!

Bonnie and Clyde Guns to be Auctioned

Bonnie and Clyde, the infamous pair who led the Barrow gang during the Great Depression era, are back in the news.  When their car was riddled with bullets and their crime spree ended by their death, a Colt .38 Revolver was found strapped to Bonnie’s thigh with medical tape.  Clyde had a Colt .45 pistol tucked into his waistband.  These guns are about to be auctioned at RR Auction in Amherst, N.H.

Out of all the hard-scrabble, two-bit criminals who choose crime as a profession, why did this pair rise to fame?  I think it comes down to one thing – there is something about a girl with a gun.

Bonnie Parker’s Colt .38 snub-nose detective special was found taped to her inside thigh with white medical tape after she was killed by law enforcement.

Without Bonnie, Clyde and his notorious band of criminals would have never entered the national consciousness.  They would have been dismissed as a group of robbers, who killed to get what they wanted.  Let’s face it – that is bad, evil, but there will always be a small percentage of folks that choose the dark side.  Once the nation saw sassy photos of Bonnie in playful poses with Clyde, the outlaw “romance” with the nation began.  Here we are, nearly 80 years after their death, and they are still interesting.  Countless “Bonnie and Clyde” movies and songs have become part of our pop-culture.

Clyde Barrow’s Colt .45 pistol, found tucked inside his waistband after his death.

Other items to be auctioned:

  • A gold pocket watch Clyde was wearing when he died
  • A brown leatherette cosmetics case Bonnie was using to carry lipstick, Coty face powder and a powder puff.
  • A letter that Clyde wrote to his brother, L.C. Barrow, on the back of a photo showing a house on a platform surrounded by water. He signed it “bud,” his code name when he was on the run.

It is interesting, there is very little to zero proof that Bonnie ever actually fired a shot against law enforcement, but without her we would not remember Clyde and his gang. Good or bad, never underestimate the power of a beautiful woman and a Colt .38 revolver.

 

Good or bad, there is something about a girl and a gun.

Guns Aboard as the Titanic Sunk 100 Years Ago

It has been 100 years tonight since the titanic tragically sank.  This story has been retold to every generation since.  The story continues to fascinate.  Is it the declarations that it was “Unsinkable”?  Is it the inside stories, the pressure to make record time, the Captain going down with the ship, the 3rd class passengers that were virtual prisoners?  The lack of life boats for everyone?  The countless stories of courages men and women standing steady and dying with courage?  Or the cowardly stories of men pretending to be women and hiding behind babies to save their own souls.

Tonight, I am sitting in my own back yard, by a fire on the patio – thousands of miles away from the freezing North Atlantic, and yet I feel chills as night falls.  I see flashes of ladies dancing, an orchestra playing, men smoking cigars, and lights sparkling on the chilly water.  I cannot imagine the terror that all, survivors and those who died alike, went through that night.  God rest their souls.

One interesting topic, related to this blog, and the Titanic is about the guns onboard. Check out this link to read a detailed account of some guns, flare guns, and gun related stories on this fateful night.  Very interesting!