Introducing Terror

4 years ago (to the day) I experienced terror: not for the first time.

4 years ago, after a grueling, long, and dangerous labor, my beautiful wife gave birth to our second son, completing our family. He was big.

Over 10 pounds big.

He was such a monstrous little thing that he got stuck in the birth canal. The labor caught the hospital by surprise, despite being a planned birth, and my poor wife delivered him mostly without an epidural (they got it in for the end)…. And then he got stuck. We spent almost an hour hearing “this push should do it!”

But it didn’t.

And when he came out, he was pale, like ash, and he wasn’t breathing.

The doctor and nurses did their best to hide this fact from us. They showed Julie her beautiful son, set him in her arms for less than a second, and then whisked him away to clean him up, and try to get his lungs to work.

I was watching the doctor’s eyes.

He was scared. He’d never lost a child in childbirth. His record was amazing (one of the reason we picked him.)

And he was scared.

So was I.

The doctor had more work to do, as there always is after a baby is born: there’s still more to come. I won’t detail this, for the blissfully ignorant and the faint of heart. Julie was in rough shape, to put it mildly, after a 10 lb baby with a late epidural, and she was exhausted.

The doctor told us what was happening as soon as he could: the baby wasn’t breathing well on his own, so they were going to put him into the critical care unit.

When Julie was well enough (an hour maybe? Time started playing games with me) we got to see him… But not hold him. He was in a lung plastic box.

We spent the better part of the next week taking turns being at his side. He got to move from the box into a head sized bubble after a day or two. We didn’t get to hold him until then.

But he was strong, not just big, and he was a fighter. (That hasn’t changed)

And he got well.

4 years ago, today, my second son was born. 4 years ago I felt terror that few can understand without experiencing it themselves.

4 years ago, today, God gave use a little terrorist. (I can say that, right?)

And I’m happy he did.

Happy birthday, Nathaniel. Please stop breaking things. 😅

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Living Liberty: We’re Doomed, What Do We Do Now?

Recent polls show that only about 12% of Americans believe that the Federal government does the right thing all or a majority of the time; compared to 81% who believe that the Federal government rarely or never does the right thing. Combined with over 50% of Americans who believe that the federal government has lost all legitimacy – we have to begin to ask, “what can we do about it?”

With such overwhelmingly depressing outcomes at the federal level, the American people are left in fear and despair about the direction of the American government: worse, we don’t know what to do about it. We don’t know what we can do about it.

So here we are, pretty much everyone agrees, we’re doomed! So what can we do? Elect an excellent president, of course! Someone who understands the constitution; honors the rule of law; will increase our allies’ trust in our country; who has unassailable moral character; and who can lead our country through these dark times with a clear vision of the future.

Wait…

Who are we choosing between?

Dang.

Well…

Excuse me for a moment.

<Weeps bitterly>

Well, I suppose we can retreat to our bunkers and live off of food storage while we wait out the coming apocalypse?

What?

The American people are in more personal debt than ever before, combined with generations of no increase in individual wealth? 

So…. There aren’t any bunkers? 

And nobody has food storage!?!?

Excuse me for a moment.

<Weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.>

<Wiping away the tears, choking back sobs> well… At least we have a congress that is trustworthy!

What? 9… 9% percent approval rating?

Oh. I see. 

Excuse me again.

<Runs out of tissues. Screams loudly>

What can we do? The federal government is so broken as to be an effective kakistocracy (good word, look that one up). And if this election is evidence of anything, it’s that the broken mess is so complete as to be above correction.

Or is it?

Personally, I think we are left with one of two options. I wish I was being a defeatist here, but I’m afraid that (short of someone presenting another option), I don’t see another solution. The first option is a bad one. No, like… literal blood in the street… Bad.

This option is the complete dissolution of the Union. I have variously found myself desiring this option: the nation would dissolve into an handful of smaller independent nations. The Liberty belt might include Texas up through Arizona, Utah, and Idaho: over to Oklahoma and Georgia. I’d be in Texas as fast as an heartbeat. The People’s Socialist Republik of California might include Washington and parts of Oregon. DC might be the seat of the new United Socialist States of America, including New York, Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maine. The Dakotas would be designated as factions fought over access to electrical power…. But before any such dissolution, there would be the requisite civil war: literal blood in the streets, and war-caused poverty for a generation (or more). The Liberty States might well become wealthy, at the cost of generational war from both sides as the bitter socialist-leaning states insist on stolen birthright, or something epic like that. In short: this would be bad. I do not support this action. I’ll go a step further, those who (actively) do, are dangerous. War, when there are better options, is a bad thing.

But what other choice do we have?

The founders expected and planned for a day when the federal government had stomped over the protections defined in the constitution. They anticipated a day when the federal government, obsessed with power, took no action to limit itself.

And they defined the ways that power could be restored back to the people: these methods are defined in article 5 of the United States Constitution. The particular section allows for what has become known as a convention of states:

On the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress.

This convention allows for the people and the states to restore power where it rightfully belongs: to the people, not to politicians and bureaucrats in DC. This convention has support in each of the fifty states, but hasn’t been proposed by each state’s legislature yet (as required… Well, in 2/3’s of them anyway). Over the course of this series, I hope to make the case for changes to the constitution that would restore both power to the people and the faith in Washington. I hope to alleviate the concerns claimed by opponents to the convention. And I hope, most importantly, to restore hope when it is currently so tenuous.

I don’t pretend to be any sort of expert. I am an opinion writer. I, of course, believe that I am right on this solution. However, I implore you to seek knowledge on the topic by those more articulate and better informed than I am: I recommend that you start by reading The Liberty Amendments by the great one himself, Mark Levin. We’ll be back to talk specifics later.

 

Knowing the Language in Politics

 

There seem to be 3 or 4 main languages in the United States. English is the most common language, and Spanish is common. But Washington DC speaks 2 different languages altogether: Legalese and Politics.

Legalese is a very precise language, though never concise. I have some skill in interpreting this language, having worked in law enforcement. We spend entire courses on understanding this language. Good Legalese is written in such a way as to be entirely specific: meaning that there can be no misunderstanding (given a knowledge of the Legalese language). Bad Legalese is deliberately vague, and when used, writes bad law.

But I want to talk about the other language used in DC: the language of politics.

This language sounds more like English than Legalese, but is much more pernicious. Why? Because it changes rapidly and meaningfully. This is the language which, if used incorrectly, can end careers and, at times, has ended life.

But there are some old and some new terms and words being thrown around in the world of politics, and an understanding of them will become important for you in the months leading up to the election. Please note that this list is not comprehensive. Also note that the political language, by design, rapidly changes when a term becomes viewed as negative: as such, some of these terms don’t mean the same thing they meant even last year, and some will change soon as well. I intend to editorialize.

 

Alt-Right – self described as an ‘alternative to the right,’ (hence, alt-right) or as an ‘alternative to conservatism.’ This group is neither conservative nor right wing. Many have an openly socialist ideology, or are at least sympathetic to socialism. They are, almost universally, nationalist in nature. They fundamentally oppose immigration (not just illegal immigration) as an invasion on the ‘American Culture,’ (note that they, generally, aren’t concerned about immigration from Western European countries… Their fear is that non-European originated, read “white,” people are not capable of integrating into American Culture.) Their beliefs are Statist in nature, favoring ever increasing federal power in an effort to protect their twisted view of Americanism. They base their views largely on the concepts of tribalism, which is, each race naturally forms tribes which are definitive to the race – black people, white people, Jews, orientals, etc should maintain separate counties based on their own tribes and should not try to intermingle. If you feel slimy reading this, that’s good: it’s pretty slimy stuff. For more detailed information about the Alt-Right, please refer back to my post The “Alt-Right,” Triangle Badges, and the Lie of Otherism.

Communism – differs from pure socialism because rather than being a purely economic system, it is a governmental system of forced equality. Communist governments have always, however, lead to a two class system: the extremely impoverished ruled class, and the wealthy ruling class. Communists, however, like Marxists, call for power to be gained by revolutionary means: they, like Marxists, want to violently overthrow the current government to install a new government.

Conservative – in the last century, this term has come to mean “classic liberal,” but recently has come to mean something entirely different. This term now holds a substantially negative connotation because it has come to mean “regressive.” It has come to represent a person who desires a return to the systematic racist and misogynist past. This change is, of course, patently ridiculous; however, the change is nearly complete. Before long, all those who identify as conservative will be actively dismissed by the mainstream. Those of you who have been conservatives, consider redefining yourself as what you really are: “classically liberal.”

Democratic socialism – a term actually coined by Stalin himself. Democratic socialism, like communism, is forced socialism. However, unlike Marxists or Communists, democratic socialists desire the governmental change by elective means. These are less violent… But still desire the force of government to enforce economic equality – this “equality” is, without exception, a low standard of living: everyone is equal in poverty.

Federalism – the belief that the Federal government should be restricted to constitutionally defined authority only, and that all other powers and authority shroud be decided at the state level. This term might also be, rightly, interchanged with ‘Constitutionalist.’ Most federalists are classic liberals, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive. One could, theoretically, be a federalist and a Statist, though I’ve never met that person.

Globalist/Globalism – this term is used strongly by the alt-right to describe anyone who opposes them. The real meaning is used to describe those who favor global governance rather than national control over law. Some people are rightly described as globalist, for example, President Obama, who continually issues Executive Actions or pushes for laws and treaties that transfer power and infrastructure to the UN, power that overrides American Laws; or that consistently appeals to so called ‘international law,’ rather than deference to American law. While there are those who rightly are globalists, generally speaking, if you hear this term, the person speaking it is probably part of the dangerous, nationalist Alt-Right.

Liberal/Liberalism – classically, liberal has meant one who believes in and supports individual liberty. The founding fathers could easily be classified as classic liberals. The term was adopted by the progressive movement in the early 20th century. Since then, “liberal” has come to mean “progressive.” Today, however, the term is beginning to find its way back to its roots. There are many social liberals who are struggling to identify with the extreme authoritarian progressive left, and thus are beginning to identify more with classical liberalism despite being socially left. Those identified as liberal need to be further questioned to really know where they stand, as the term has become, intentionally or not, a completely muddled term.

Libertarianism – the idea that the government should be as small as possible and thus have as little influence and power over the individual as possible. The idea is usually tied closely to classical liberalism, but one could theoretically be a libertarian socialist…. But again, I’ve never met that person.

Marxist/Marxism – Marx detailed the economic socialism as defined here, and called for the “working class” people to violently rise up, to create a government that forced equality, for a time, before fading gradually away to the “pure” form of socialism. Understand: a Marxist is necessarily a radical. Marxism literally calls for violent overthrow of democratic government. Marxism, like pure socialism, is a theory that has never happened. Every Marxist revolution has lead to true communism, and never lead to pure socialism. Why? Because once a government has absolute power, it doesn’t surrender it without being compelled to do so.

Nationalist/Nationalism – the belief that one’s country is inherently superior. A nationalist, usually part of the alt-right, believes that peoples’ origin define their ability to integrate into a society. Nationalism is not patriotism. It is the blind belief that anything your country does is good because it is your country. The Nazi’s were literally the Nationalist Socialist party. Nationalists usually support racial division of classes/races/ethnicities because, as I’ve already said, they believe that a person’s origin defines their ability to integrate into a society. They believe that culture and race are usually integral. They believe that some cultures (and thus some races) are inherently superior to others.

Patriot/Patriotism – pride in the success and righteousness of a person’s country. The patriot is proud when their country does right, but opposes wrong action on the part of their country because it shames the country and its citizens. Nationalists often deliberately identify as patriots in order to identify all patriots as nationalists in order to increase the supposed support of their radical agenda. Globalists deliberately conflate the two terms in order to classify patriots with the extreme Nationalists.

Journalist Sydney Harris differentiated the terms like this:

The Difference Between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does , and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility while the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to a war .

Populism – the idea that the majority (50% plus 1 person) of the people should hold absolute authority. A populist believes that if the will of the majority of the people is behind a decision, that decision must be inherently right.

Progressive – the American progressive movement of the 20th century were those who, while accepting fully the ideology of Marx, desired to avoids the radical revolution of the communists of the day. Instead, they desired to implement the communistic form of government a little at a time, or progressively. The term fell out of favor with the rise of Hitler, who had been in active contact with America’s progressives (like Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who desired to rid the nation of “blacks and other undesirables,” through eugenics, i.e. birth control and abortion. Today, Planned Parenthood’s practices, would make her proud) – at that time, the term “liberal” was deliberately hijacked by the progressives, who began calling liberals of the time (classic liberals) the derogatory “conservative” in an effort to show how “regressive” their ideas were. (That meaning, as I’ve said, is coming back around and being accepted: conservative = regressive, even though it is applied to the classical liberal… And liberal means progressive who are really regressive and anti-liberal…. Confused yet? It’s intentional.) The term was restored to popularity with Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid. Closet progressives who have been calling themselves liberals for half a century are now calling themselves progressives again, but the meaning has not changed.

Socialist – one who adopts the economic view of complete economic equality, forbidding individually owned property, insisting that all property belongs to the community. While this has been tried many times throughout history, it has never worked. Why? True Socialism requires every individual to buy in. If even one person isn’t fully converted (a religious term, because the level of buy in required is bordering on fanatical or religious), the whole system either fails or reverts to forced socialism. Forced socialism (communism), however, is no longer an economic system, but a governmental system. Every attempt at pure socialism in history has resulted in government involvement or the failure of the system, without exception.

But it’s important to understand what socialism is. Most people who call for socialism are speaking solely of the economic system. They really don’t think that government is needed (unless they are Marxists, democratic socialists, or communists). This system is a theory of economy only. It cannot and has never existed. Remember that.

Statist a person who pushes for social change by force of the state. The solution of the Statist is always increased legislation. In the United States, a Statist usually desires an increase in authority of the federal government, rather than state governments. It is theoretically possible for a person to be both a federalist and a Statist: desiring increased power of state government, but decreased power of the federal government.

 Why do these terms matter? Because language matters! And the language shifts so quickly. Many of these terms have had their meanings shifted, at least once, over the last 100 years. And each will be used to either describe opposition, or to self describe individuals. You have to understand the language to be able to effectively use it. Thus, political language bleeds over to English.

 

Argument Ad Naseum; What’s the Point?

This is a type of meta post, and it may present me in a negative light. Understand, I am making a point about arguing…. And it this may come across as…argumentative…

The other day I found myself embroiled in a proverbial civil war on Facebook. A good friend (while I find I agree with him less and less, he remains a good man, strong in character, and kind above most) had posted an (unintentionally) inflammatory socio-political blog post. My brother countered the argument our friend was making with another, and I replied to my brother’s comment with a short, sarcastic comment. I meant little by it, but to show support for my brother’s counter argument….

What ensued, however, was the longest comment thread I’ve participated in (nearly 350 comments). Over the course of the next 48 hours, sides entrenched, and arguments were made. My brother and I found ourselves nearly alone against a barrage of opposing arguers. Our other brother joined the battle occasionally, when he could, on our side. And near the end another joined us still.  The opposing side had a nearly revolving door, except our friend who made the original article: he had the decency to stay through the battle, rather than swoop in and hurl proverbial air support insults at the opposition before retreating to the safety of internet oblivion.

Side note: God blessed my family with great intelligence, even if He didn’t provide us with wisdom…. And even if we haven’t learned humility…. 

I have to say that my brothers and I were equal to the task. We stayed consistent to to our principled stance, and provided substantial logical and factual information to the fight. Of course, I don’t believe the same to be true of the opposition.
I could hear the wives of everyone participating singing with exasperation “still arguing?!?” I can feel their eye rolls as they wonder about the stubbornness of their husbands who argue with friends and strangers alike for 2 days on the same conversation. And I feel their frustration as they point out that their husbands have failed to convince anyone on the other side to their own point of view.  I know that my sister-in law and my wife joined in those frustrations… And I’m sure that the wives of the others involved felt the same. And they aren’t wrong.

My friend wasn’t convinced of his wrongness. My brothers and I weren’t convinced of our cold heartedness. And I’m sure than none of the fly-by pilots chose to settle their planes on my brother’s battlements after surveying the field of battle.

So, like our wives, you might ask: what’s the point? Why argue when everyone is entrenched, and no one will change their minds? I believe I can speak for all involved when I answer those questions. (Maybe not, in which case, I speak just for me).

Why argue when no one will change their mind?

1. Arguing challenges me: how will I know that I am right if I am never challenged? One of the damning principles of modern education is the lie of “consensus.” If we only surround ourselves with those with whom we agree, we start to believe that everyone agrees with us: this builds up unhealthy narcissism. If we are never challenged, and preferably aggressively challenged, we never develope our own thoughts to the point of value to society. Without opposition, our own views become one sided, weak, and arrogant.

2. Sometimes I am wrong. My wife says that I always believe that I’m right. I fail, even after years of marriage, to see this as a bad thing. If I argued principles and points that I believed to be wrong, wouldn’t that make me a liar? Of course I think I’m right… But I am sometimes wrong. Arguing presents information that challenges mine. On occasion, that information, those arguments, convince me that I am wrong.

I remember one such conversation clearly: while on the phone for work, I had a customer delve into the forbidden territory of politics; and I silenced myself to avoid getting in trouble. She asked if my state had universal sales tax, that is, sales tax on every purchase including food. I answered in the affirmative. I believed that any other such tax, or a tax not applied universally, would open the door to corruption and beurocratic nightmare. (I didn’t say this, of course, lest I get in trouble for misrepresenting the company for whom I worked). In one single sentence, this woman, a self avowed socialist, changed my view: “do you think it is okay that you have to be taxed for food; that you need your governmental overlord’s permission to eat?” I found myself legitimately flummoxed (something that I have to admit, doesn’t happen often). In one question, she convinced me of the immorality of taxing food. I was sold; governments  should not tax food. The principle developed further, as I studied it further, but this is to illustrate that I am willing to have my mind changed given convincing evidence and superior arguments.

3. The third point belongs to my brother, and is his answer to his wife when she asked “why are you still arguing? You won’t change their minds.” His response was simple “because they’re wrong.”  He continued (paraphrased) “just because they are entrenched, and because we are entrenched, doesn’t mean that everyone is entrenched. There will be people who read this argument and are swayed one way or the other. There will be people who haven’t formed an opinion, who haven’t taken a side: and of no opposition is offered to the wrong viewpoint, they will be convinced that the wrong viewpoint is correct.”

This answer, my brother’s, is perhaps the most moral reason why arguments must be made. Even the Savior (while I emdeavor to emulate Him, please don’t understand that I am comparing myself to him), even the Savior argued with the leaders of the day. He always won those arguments…. Because He’s perfect… But he argued nonetheless. Especially when the topic is not trivial, it is critical that opposition to the wrong side be presented. Because, though it may seem like it by the commentating class (myself included), by the overtly opinionated (myself included), by the openly argumentative (myself included), not everyone has picked a side. There are those who will be convinced one way or the other. If the right never stand up to the wrong, which side will the unconvinced choose?

4. Speaking just for myself: it’s fun. Mankind’s history has always been met with combat and competition. When society has changed, the forms of competition have too: including competition of status (winning in the workforce, to be able to “humbly” show your fellow man how much better you are by driving a nicer car, or wearing an Armani suit or otherwise “winning”). Man’s bloodlust hasn’t satiated over time, it has just changed. I am not convinced that this competitive drive is wholly unrighteousness, so long as it is curbed and controlled; not allowed to consume and define the man. I’d love to admit that I am free of that competitive desire: but I am not. I like winning. Being physically broken, intellectual debate provides the last area where I can be the competitive equal of my opposition. Intellectual argument is the last proverbial arena were my manly desire for combat can be satiated with the (again proverbial) blood of my foes.

So what happened? Who who the argument?

Some may want to know the end result of our bitter ideological entanglement: I will oblige. Understand, that a participant in a debate is never a fair judge of it, and so my view is far from unbiased.

If ours were a moderated debate, werin the rules of civilized debate were adhered to and counted for or against the arguer: my brothers and I won the debate. We worked hard to avoid personal attack and logical fallacy. The opposition, contrarily, bounced from one fallacy to then next (I joked that they had read a list of the logical fallacies and were trying to incorporate each into a single argument…. but the joke wasn’t without cause). One of the opposition insisted, no less than 5 times, that I was ignorant without once providing reason for the insult nor countering my points to show my ignorance.

Ifs the were a bloody arena combat, I have to say that the battle again favored my brothers and me. Our arguments were consistent and principled, as opposed to the our opposition who abandoned theirs as frequently as we defeated the arguments , rather than defend them with new information or reason). This method is called the shotgun approach: get as much lead downrange as you can, and see if you hit something.

If the object was to convince the bystanders, I cannot speak definitively. I hope that my side, working hard to keep from personalizing our attacks, maintaining the higher ground; combined with consistent argument and unrefuted information: I hope that ours was the more convincing argument.

If the objective was to convince the other side, we all lost. I am sure that no one who participated, was convinced.

As for friendship; I feel that some friendships were damaged. My friend was first my brother’s friend. Growing up, I looked to them (more him than my brother) as the definition of charismatically cool. In adulthood, my limited exposure to him has lead me to define him as my friend, irrespective of my brother. Their bond is unassailable, despite frequent socio-political grievances. However, during the course of the debate, our friend made a conclusion based in the assumption that I disliked him. This error, I must wholly own. My opposition to his politics (of which, like me, he is very verbal) has lead him to the incorrect beleif that I dislike him. In short, I have failed to communicate love and admiration during heated debate. In this cause, I have lost. And it is a loss that I mourn.

So why do we continue to maker arguments when everyone has already picked a side? Because not everyone has picked a side. And just like battles of old, friendships are often the casualty of the war. I regret these casualties most of all. 

The “Alt-Right,” Triangle Badges, and the Lie of Otherism

The symbol of the yellow double triangle, the Star of David, with the word “Jude” inscribed still strikes horror into those who see it… and for good reason. 

One of the first academic projects that I created on the subject inspired the change to the requirements of a certain holocaust memorial scholarship: previously the scholarship had been only available to essay writers, but the foundation found my protect to be so influential that they changed the submission format to include other creative types (sadly, my video submission didn’t count, because they could only change it for subsequent years…. Though they told me that they would have awarded me with the scholarship had the requirements allowed them to). I digress, but for a purpose: when I made that project – pictures applied to music with only dates for words – the Holocaust had ended nearly 6 decades before. But still my project called “Images of War,” left my peers (who had spent the previous semester becoming emotionally detached from the horrors of Hitler’s Genocide) in tears. Why?

Because even now this image rips into our souls. 

Even now, feeling people have their eyes burn and they question, “who could do that?”

If you feel like I just insulted you for being unmoved by the victims of the holocaust, you’re right. I just called you unfeeling. I have other words for you too, but there are children nearby.

But why do I bring this up? Why do I take the time to insult a portion of my readers? I promise to circle back to that answer.

The “alt-right”

For those who don’t follow politics like my brother follows the basketball season… With their goalposts and… Cheerleaders?…. And…. Goalies? Okay, it’s a bad analogy because I literally know nothing of the sport (sorry, Ben, I tried to be masculine and tough….): if you are beginning to pay attention to the political season because of the presidential elections coming up, you’ll also start hearing the term “alt-right.” You may not know this term. Most people are ignorant to it. It’s a pretty new term, but the media are trying to make the term synonymous with the term “conservative.” The Clinton campaign are pushing for the same thing (some would say I’m being redundant by dividing the two… And you aren’t wrong….)

So what is the “alt-right?” The term is only recently leaving the backward forums of the dark web. Even those of us that follow politics like a sport are finding ourselves sideswiped by this group that is quickly gaining notoriety and power…. Not that we weren’t expecting some group to do this, we just didn’t know which group.

The alt-right, as the name implies, voice themselves as an alternative to the right; an alternative to conservatism. They do not view themselves as conservatives, and they ridicule the conservative movement with lovely and polite terms like “cuckservative,” (shortened to “cuck”) – I’ll let you research the meaning and origin of that insult. Just be prepared to delete your browser history when you’re done. This group is representative of many who once fashioned themselves as conservatives, but have since come into the light as their true selves: Anne Coulter, who said that a certain candidate could murder babies in the White House, for all she cares, because of his immigration stance. This same former bastion of the extreme right just released a book mocking our nation’s motto, titled “In Trump We Trust.” 

What does this group believe? The key defining factors of the alt-right are that they believe themselves to be the guardians of western culture; which, in their view, rests on 3 pillars: Christianity, the European Nations, and the rule of law. Notice that non-Christians, in the view of the alt-right cannot be part of western society; neither can those not descended from the European nations (read ‘no -whites) and neither can the criminal element of society. All of these “non” groups not only cannot be a part of western society, but are inherently enemies to it. In short: the alt-right are white supremacists, white nationalists, and populist racists. The KKK, the neo-nazis, the Nazi Party, and all of these hateful extremists fall into the peelers of this ideology.

What do they have right; what they are not.

The alt-right has a handful of things right. Namely, that western society and culture is superior to other societies and cultures. “Oh, that’s so racist!” No, no it’s not. Racism requires race. Is it bigoted to believe that some societies and cultures are better than others? You decide. One non-western culture throws homosexuals off of rooftops, practices female circumcision, and is committing genocide against Christians: western society does not. Is one better than the other? Of course. What makes western society better than others? The ideology of liberty and freedom. Societies that embrace these principles become superior to their former status’s.

But the alt-right believe that western society is inherited by race. They believe that non-whites and Jews cannot assimilate into the society and are enemies to the white race and culture. What the alt-right believe is racist, because it is founded in the idea of race, not ideology.

In Alt-Right ideology, you will not find deference to constitutional governance, limited government, or individual liberty. This group, therefore, cannot be rightly identified as conservative. Indeed, as stated earlier, they do not identify themselves that way. This group believes in growing government to whatever size necessary to protect white culture from the invading forces of non-whites, non-Christians, and the “innately” criminal.

The alt-right is inherently Nationalist: they believe that our nation is superior because we are a “white-Christian nation” (in their view). They reject what the founders embraced; constitutional conservative principles based in individual liberty and economic freedom; that despite being almost wholly Christian, and being largely opposed to “Mohommediesm,” the founders still ensured the right of each person in our country to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience. Further, many of the alt-right identify strongly with socialist economic beliefs.

Coming back around

The very astute have identified the connection between the first and second segments of this article: the alt-right, being Statist Nationalists who more readily identify as socialists than free-trade capitalists,  have much more in common with the National Socialist party of the German early 20th century than they do with today’s constitutional conservatives.

Donald Trump, in my estimation, is not a racist… But he sure seems to play one on TV. The reason the alt-right has come into national attention is that they have almost wholly adopted Trump as their champion. “In Trump We Trust.” And apart from decrying this despicable group, he has consistently played to them. Breitbart.com, which was founded by the champion of conservatism, Matthew Breitbart, has (since Matthew’s death, and contrary to his vision) become the self-described home of the alt-right. It has also become the unabashed propaganda arm of the Donald Trump campaign. The head of that website is now the head of the Trump Campaign.

Finally connecting the dots

The alt-right has gone from the absurd element of the fringe to controlling the Republican Party. They define themselves by segregating groups by nationality and religion: declaring the “others” as enemies. The world has been down this road many items before. How long before they start sowing badges on our shirts? Anecdotally, I’ve had a digital “badge” attached to my name on a once conservative forum which identified me as an ideological enemy to the alt-right forum moderator. 

If you aren’t conservative, you need to know that the alt-right does not (emphatically does not) represent the ideology of constitutional conservatism. They don’t claim to. The alt-right recently published an article denouncing conservative “worship” of the constitution because we wouldn’t get behind their chosen leader of Donald Trump. Despite the recent and upcoming incessant attempts by the media to conflate the two ideologies, the alt-right does not represent conservatives.

If you are a conservative, you need to know that the alt-right does not represent the ideology of constitutional conservatism. One of the weaknesses of the constitutional right is the susceptibility to jingoism and nationalism. The United States is not exceptional because we are the United States; we are exceptional because of our adherence to the Godly principles of individual liberty, free market capitalism, and rule of law. Do not let these disgusting human beings lure you in by the promise of a return to national greatness; they don’t have your values in mind. Their greatness is not the same as yours. They want to use you as a useful idiot to reach their end goals of hate and inhuman division. Don’t let them.

Again, I don’t believe that the Trump fits into the category of the Alt-right, but he sure attracts them. I won’t pretend that the decision not to vote for the trump is an easy one: he opposes Clinton, and that is the best argument for voting for him. But those who pretend that the decision to vote for him is easy because of his values and principles are probably close adherents to the ideology of the alt-right. And I can’t sit with those kids on the bus either.

To make an analogy – the country is being asked to pick the method of our execution: gas chamber of firing squad. When we cry “I don’t want either! I want my country to live!” We’re told, “quit being so divisive.” We are told, “the choice is binary.” That failing to choose the gas chamber is choosing the firing line. “Why do you support the firing line?” They angrily ask us. “I don’t want my country to die!” We desperately repeat as we are being lead away.

Nations have followed the racist nationalist ideology before. We cannot let that ideology identify us. We must not be tainted with that stain. Our immortal souls depend on rejecting this evil.
This was fun, Jared, can we have some more?

Sure! Because this was such a light hearted and fun post, let’s play a game! It’s called “which Nazi consecration camp badge would you wear?” I can see this one storming Facebook, can’t you?

Mine looks like this:


My wife’s looks like this:

What does yours look like? Take the quiz and comment below!

Or… I haven’t actually made the quiz…. But do some reading, and comment below!

Or…. This is pretty dark, isn’t it? These disgusting things still turn the stomach don’t they? Just in case we think that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen any more, remember this one, called the mark of the Nazarene, or the mark of shame:


Like us on Facebook. Share the post if you found it enlightening. I’m honored that you’ve read through with me. I know this is heavy stuff, but those who don’t know the past are doomed to repeat it. God protect us, we are repeating it.

I Was Completely Wrong, And I Didn’t Even Know It

Over the last several months, I’ve written and re-written an article defining what I believe is the key difference between American Liberalism and American Conservatism; between Socialism and Capitalism; between the political Left and the political Right. That difference is the polar opposites of Collectivism and Individualsim. It is this difference, I contend, that irreparably divides the political factions. Is is this difference that separates the political and moral foundations that define us.

And I maintain that I am correct in this assessment. The political left, the socialists, the progressives, and the American liberals all have one key tying them together: that the will of the individual is or should be subservient to the will and benefit of the whole; that the good of the many outweighs the good of the one; that individuals are made to better the society. In short, the fundemental core is collectivism.

This ideology and fundamental understanding directly contradicts the basis of the political right, the conservatives, libertarians, and the capitalists who believe that the will of the many cannot override the will of the individual (as long as that individual is not directly harming other individuals, taking their things, or taking their individual rights); that the individual benefits the society by acting in their own self interest while protecting the self interest of their neighbor; that society is made to protect the liberty of the individual. Theirs is the fundemental core of individualism.

I maintain that am I correct in these summaries, that they are accurate representations of the fundamental beliefs of these parties. I maintain that these positions are irreconcilable. 
However, I have always held that convincing arguments; convincing evidence; or a convincing combination of the two should and will change my mind when presented to me. Yesterday, one such argument was made, and it has caused me to change my view.

The institution of marriage is the foundational bedrock of western civilization. Marriage is the idea that you and your beloved are now a new family, and that family is a bulwark against the vicissitudes of fate and the vicissitudes of reality. You are a team and your goal is to both survive and flourish as a team; and you’re not going to do it separately. You’re going to better together, (to grab a phrase from Hillary Clinton’s idiotic campaign: she wants to do it better together as a government).
Family exists in opposition to the forces of nature. It exists in opposition to the forces of government. It exists in opposition to communitarianism. And it exists in direct opposition to the idea that the individual, on his own, is enough. The individual on his own isn’t enough. You need a wife or you need a husband because that person makes you a better person, completes you, and is the only person in the world who has the same agenda that you do in your life. Everybody needs both a cheerleader and a person for whom to cheerlead. That’s what marriage provides. 
Aside from that, without marriage the world ceases to function; the human world ceases to function because your creation of new life is, in both spiritual and physical form, the significant unification of humanity. Every time you have a child, you’re recreating humanity anew. And you’re expressing faith in God, faith in the future, and a belief that things will get better.

~Ben Shapiro

To borrow from this great thinker: “[the family] exists in direct opposition to the idea that the individual, on his own, is enough. The individualism on his own isn’t enough.”

And in a blink of an eye (he’s a fast talker), my mind has been changed. I no longer believe that society’s purpose is to benefit the individual. I no longer believe that the will of the individual trumps the will of society. I no longer believe that society is made to protect the liberty of the individual. I have been convinced by a great thinker, and fast talker, that the society’s purpose is to benefit the family. I believe that the will of the family trumps the will of society. I believe that society is made to protect the liberty of the family.

I believe that government should be only large enough to protect the family and its individuals from the dangers of those who would do them harm. When government grows to try to fill the God given role of the family, society dies a slow, angry, and bitter death. Our society is dying. We have rejected the family as the central unit of society. The political right have selfishly claimed that the most important unit in society is the individual. The political left have claimed that the individual must be trampled by the will of the whole in the damnable lie of “progress.” Both have ignored the family, to our ruin.
Go home today, or call, or whatever. Tell your spouse that you love them. Swallow your pride, and admit your faults. Open your soul to your beloved. Place her (or him) first. It is time that we replace the family in our society as the most important unit. Our society is dying: the only cure is the restoration of Godly principles starting with the family.

Broken Covenants; Unrepentant Sin; and Atonement

The gospel of Jesus Christ is full of individual responsibility, personal covenants, distinctive action, and one on one choice to follow the will of God. This holds the basis of Salvation: that each soul must choose for themselves whom they will serve. As Joshua so eloquently challenged: “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Inharently in Joshua’s command is the individual choice to serve God. 

However, a handful of nations have gone above and beyond this command of individual worship and covenant. 

Israel had made the covenant with their foundation. Having rejected it, they spent years in chastising bondage. Before returning to their home, Joshua warned them that he covenant not be taken lightly, and they made it again:

Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.” 

Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” 

But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”

Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.” 

“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied. 

“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 

And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.” On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. 

On this continent, following a similar apostasy of the covenent people (who were a lost branch of the Israelites), the faithful leader Moroni called for a similar renewal of Godly covenent:

 Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.

And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God; or, in other words, if they should transgress the commandments of God, or fall into transgression, and be ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ, the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments.
Now this was the covenant which they made, and they cast their garments at the feet of Moroni, saying: We covenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall fall into transgression; yea, he may cast us at the feet of our enemies, even as we have cast our garments at thy feet to be trodden under foot, if we shall fall into transgression.

Here, a similar covenent was made after years of hardship, termoil, and oppression:

On May 15, 1776, shortly after the Continental Army’s initial arrival at New York, months before the British invasion, Washington prepared his men. Not only did he prepare them physically, but spiritually. He called them to the covenant. In a General Order, he declared:

“Instant to be observed [on Friday the 17th] as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God, that it would please him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions, and to prosper the Arms of the United Colonies, and finally establish the peace and freedom of America, upon a solid and lasting foundation.”
Then again on July 2, Washington in another General Order would remind his men that “the fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army…Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is.” Two days later, in Philadelphia, these same sentiments would be immortalized by the Continental Congress in the Declaration of Independence, which concludes, “And for support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Washington was so convinced of his utter dependence upon this covenant relationship with God that he would continue to extend reminders and calls to repentance. On July 9, Washington issued another General Order in which he called for chaplains in each regiment to ensure that the soldiers “attend carefully upon religious exercises.” The order concluded with the following: “The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger-the General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavor so to live, and act, as becomes a good Christian soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.

In each of these cases, and many others, the sincere covenent with God has lead to victory of His covenent people: militarily, economically, in peace, in happiness, and in liberty.

But in each of these cases, we can also see the consequence when the people in question have defied or broken their covenant with God:

The Israelites, turning from God, were chastened with millennia of torment at the hands of the Canaanites, Persians, and the Arabs. After the final rejection and crucifixion of their God, they were dispersed entirely spending nearly 2000 years in exile for their failure to uphold their covenant.

The Nephites spent the better part of the next 1000 years being reminded of their covenent by falling and returning to God; accepting defeat and victory according to their faith. Ultimately they were completely destroyed in a genocidal war because of their failure to return to the God who protected them.

The Americans failure to keep their promise to God, and provide liberty to their fellow men, became embroiled in a civil war that nearly cost the nation, and remains to be the single most deadly war in their history. The following generation saw a turn from God, until they wer chastened by two generations of war, and returned them to the faith of God. However, the current trend is the most blatant rejection of God in American history: no longer do we openly enslave people by race, but we have committed an evil sacrament to Satan which has resulted in the murder of over 50 million innocent children: and we have called that sacrament good. We have turned away from our covenant and called it evil. We have selected leaders to guide us that we know are evil and unrighteousness actors, and called it inevitable.

America, like Israel and the Land of Nephi before them (and others) is ripe for just destruction. We have openly defied the God whom we promised to serve. Ours is a nation that has fallen into the worship of Baal and the grove, just as completely as our predecessors. And the Godly covenant gives us our promised consequence: obliteration.

But there is hope now, as there always has been. Israel is restored: they have turned back to the God who made them, and they have defied all external enemies (see the 7 day war…. And every other Israelie conflict in modern history….) the United States need only return to her Father for the promise of redemption.

Atonement must be made. Christ has made it, but we must accept that atonement, or we will make it ourselves again. That road leads to destruction.

As Joshua, I call on my readers to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” The salvation of your individual soul depends upon your choice.

But as the Israelites, the Nephites, and the Americans before us, the return to God as a people; the restoration of our covenant; predicates our national security, our collective peace, our economic stability, and our cultural longevity. For the sake of our children, we must choose worthy leaders to lead and guide us. Like our spiritual ancestors, we must declare firmly that “We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.” 

Being Lost; Finding My Compass

I love to write. I have loved it my whole life. I have been writing my thoughts down as long as I can remember. I tend to think that I’m pretty good at it. I like to tell stories. I think I’m pretty good at that too. I like to tell the uplifting and funny stories about myself and my life. I feel like those stories cheer people and help them to overcome the challenges that they face.

I also like to teach. Teaching has been a passion of mine since I was 15 years old, and started teaching the Indian Lore and Leatherworking merit badges at summer camp. I tend to think that I’m pretty good at that too. I have a way with adjusting my lessons to fit the needs of my class and making the material fit them personally. I’ve had students approach me years later and express how I’ve personally impacted their lives. Those moments have changed me. I wouldn’t surrender them for anything.

I’ve endevored to express my love of teaching in my writing. I don’t know how successful that has been. The damnable thing about the Internet is the complete inability to read one’s audience. I have picked topics that are both broad and specific; both personal and public; that I am passionate about and that I am mostly indifferent to (less of those). 

I haven’t published anything in a couple of months. I’ve written! I have saved in my draft file dozens of articles in various stages of completion: some induce writer’s block after the title, but are subjects that are important to me; others have the first draft complete; and some are ready for publishing, but the time isn’t right.

The truth is, I’m lost. I like to write about impactful things, funny things, insightful things, and uplifting things. But the last several months have been hard. Life is always hard for me: that’s part of being broken! But the last moths have been especially hard. My body has shut down more completely than normal. My back has been in a gradual downslope since I hurt it in 2011, and that hasn’t changed. But my fibromyalgia comes and goes; waxes and wanes. These phases are called ‘flares’ which is an infuriating term to me. Flare implies a flash. It implies quickly coming and quickly going. Some flares are like that: my over activity causes a day or two long flare that makes life hard. Others last a week or others, months… But my most recent flare started in… October? November? And it shows no sign of letting up. These are the worst kinds of flares. They make life nearly unbearable by themselves. Combined with the rest of my health, I’ve been a train wreck. Ironically, one can have a smaller flare on top of a long term flare…. I get those too.

I’m lost because, in the past, despite my health, I’ve been able to focus on other important topics: I’ve spent a lot of time writing about political things. I’m passionate about politics, though I don’t love them like I do writing and teaching. But the world of politics has gone from ‘powerfully important’ to ‘damned, no  matter what you do.’ I haven’t had any desire to write about it lately.

So I’m lost. I want to tell the the uplifting or funny stories about my life to help others…. But I haven’t had a share of those for a while. So I want to teach about the impactful things that make a difference….. But the ability to affect change seems stripped from the good right now. I want to approach the overlying principles of faith and liberty…. But I haven’t found a medium that effectively conveys my messages (these are the competed articles that have sat in my draft folder for months: they’re boring: and I’m the one who wrote them!)

I’m lost because I don’t want my articles to be gripe fest after gripe fest about how tough things are: you get it, I know! Life is tough for everyone. But because I’m finding myself lost, I’m also finding myself without a creative outlet. I’m finding myself in deep, depressed anxiety. I’m feeling entirely unconnected with the world. I’m feeling trapped in an uncooperative body. And most defeating to my psyche, is the feeling that I have nothing left to contribute. I still have my children, and that’s no small thing: but I am left wanting to impact others besides my sons… And feeling like I never will again.

So I’m lost, and looking for a compass. 

I titled this article “being lost; finding my compass,” for two reasons. If you haven’t gathered the first yet, that I’m feeling lost…. I don’t know what to tell you 😊. But secondly, ‘finding my compass,’ rather than ‘looking for my compass,’ because I am always seeking optimism (not to be confused with always being an optimist….) finding is more hopeful than looking. (In the same vane, my dad always took us ‘catching’ rather than ‘fishing.’)

It is true that I’m looking for some grounding compass, but I have hope to be finding it soon. I don’t like being lost.

My Two Sons, and Their 3 Dads

We just celebrated Father’s Day. As is the standard on the holiday, social media was full of the praises of… Mothers? Yes, but also of fathers. 

It got me thinking: what kind of father am I? An imperfect one, with no doubt. But I wonder if one were to aka my sons, what would thier answer be? Split, I think.

So let’s talk about that.

Dad 1: the loving dad. This is the man who was there at their respective births. The loving father who beams with pride at the successes of his learning sons. This is the man who has shared his love of books and reading. The man who’s strangeness has rubbed off on boys who would rather read Percy Jackson than green eggs and ham. This is the fun dad. I’d love to think that this is the dad my sons will remember and emulate when I’m gone.

Dad 2: the broken dad. This is the dad that my toddler runs to “help” stand up when he falls. This is the dad whom my sons have learned to ignore his grunts and whimpers of pain. This is the dad that my sons are eager to serve, to help, to support… But that feels exhausting shame that any of those things are needed from mere children. This is the dad that has to constantly renig on planned fun because his body has given out long before his desire to play with his children. This is the dad that my boys will remember.

Dad 3. the emotional dad. Years of medications have removed all but 1 or 2 of the dad’s emotions. The remaining emotions include anger and loud. My boys don’t like this dad…. And neither do I. He’s a jerk. He yells altogether too much. He can be cold, and unbending. He is the disciplinarian dad. He’s the one to whom my children give a wide birth. He’s the one I resent the most. I wish he’d go away and never come back (read that in Smeagol’s voice).

And here I sit, the broken dad wishing I could always be the the loving dad. Wishing that I could kill the emotional dad. I am my son’s 3 fathers (lest anyone assume the worst of my wife). I have realized that my sons have to deal with the 3 distinctive personalities of mine (these are not like… Split personalities… Or anything…. No coats are needed for me, thank you very much. No pills to make “the voices” stop, or anything. This is a proverbial conversation, not a literal one).

There we go. Kind of a lame conversation ending. Hopefully the whole of the conversation didn’t fit into that category.

Happy Father’s Day to my fellow imperfect dads. You perfect dads should write a how to book: it’d sell well.

Oh, and a bonus “we’re actually sleeping,” selfie from my sons:

Let’s Talk Firearms: Gun Basics

In the light of any firearm related murder, the news returns to a handful of disgusting tropes. The first is the assumption that the murderer is a bigoted white man, followed by the accusation of right wing extremism, and always, always, always, followed up by a call to do something about those easily accessible scary assault weapons (a made up term to instill fear). One self purported ‘gun owning’ “journalist” called for a ban on all “AR-14’s.” He meant AR-15, as the Ar-14 is an a score model not known to… Anyone….But while gun owners roll our eyes at the ignorance spewed from the media, and even from the White House (the president recently said that the Orlando shooter had a “Glock, which had lots of clips in it…”How did this anomaly work at all?!?), as we grind our teeth at the absurd calls for the ineffective and unconstitutional bans on certain firearm types, we are left to shout at our TV’s whenever the talking heads imply that the second amendment has anything to do with hunting. The anti-gun crowd insistently repeat their drivel as if they have any concept of what they are talking about. But in the middle we have those who don’t know firearms, who didn’t know to laugh mercilessly at Tom Brokaw’s ignorant AR-14 comment, who might think that the ‘common sense gun control’ measures sound reasonable, and that couldn’t tell the difference for between a shotgun or a rifle: this post is for those people.

If we are to have a real conversation about guns, we should at least all have some idea what we’re talking about.  I don’t have any resentment to you if you are ignorant: not knowing something has no shame…. Until you try to use your ignorance as a weapon, then I have a problem.

To the knowledgeable:

So we are going talk about the basics of guns for a few minutes. There are literally tens of thousands of firearm types, models, caliber, etc. Even the most knowledgeable experts can find themselves ignorant in certain areas. So I’ll be speaking in generalities. There are always exceptions to these generalities (with tens of thousands of gun types, of course there are), but let those go, mister internet warrior 🙂 – I’m giving a rundown of firearm basics to those who don’t know.

To the unknowledgeable:

If this feels overwhelming, keep with it. I’ll try to talk in basic terms as much as possible, but even for those of us in ‘the know,’ the substantial quantity of information can be overwhelming. Be patient, reread, and even ask questions!

My qualifications:

I like to joke that I was born with a rifle in my hands. I don’t think that I was actually, but I don’t remember for sure. We’ll have to wait on my mom to weigh in on the topic. I became a NRA Certified instructor for basic courses in 2007, and have maintained those certifications since. I’ve been the range master for literally millions of rounds fired: and never had an accident on one of my ranges. I’ve studied independently most of my adult life, being fascinated by the topic. I was a police officer, and qualified top of my academy class with the tactical shot gun, and in the top 3 with a handgun. While I am not an handgun instructor, I am a gifted shot. Despite these things, I still feel like a 3 year old in an advanced physics course when my father-in-law and I talk: he’s been doing this a lot longer than me, and with much more gusto… And even he finds areas of ignorance on this topic: it’s a massive amount of information!

Types and classes:

Let’s define some terms: these may or may not be commonly used terms, but for the sake of our conversation, these are the baseline.

A firearm type, in our conversation, will refer to the basics of the gun’s function and defining characteristics.  A firearm  class, in our conversation, will refer to the basics of the rate of fire. Both are important.

Firearm classes:

The first class of firearms are called ‘Single shot‘ firearms. These guns need to be reloaded after each shot. These are popular types of guns for some hunters and for learning how to shoot. On my ranges, I use single shot guns almost exclusively as it keeps a person from firing rapidly and learning sloppy habits.

The second class of firearms are called “semi-automatic” firearms. Almost without exception, when you hear someone in public office or in media talking about ‘automatic’ guns, they are referring to semi-automatic guns (but ‘semi’ makes it sound less scary). The “automatic” part means that the gun re-loads itself after each shot, assuming that it has ammunition to use. The ‘semi’ part means that, like the single shot, the trigger must be pulled once for every shot fired. You cannot just hold down the trigger and ‘spray bullets,’ as is commonly claimed. This type of firearm is by far the preferred firearm for most applications: including hunting, personal defense, target shooting, and shooting sports.

The final class of firearms are called “automatic,” or sometimes “fully-automatic,” firearms. Like the semi-automatic guns, these guns automatically reload after each shot, but unlike semi-automatic, one can hold down the trigger and continuously fire. Most fully automatic guns have a switch to choose between semi-automatic fire, 3 round burst (or 5 on some guns) and continuous fire: the semi-automatic option means that the trigger must be pulled once for every shot. The burst fire means that one pull of the trigger will fire 3 (or 5) rounds, and continuous fire means that each pull of the trigger will fire non-stop until either the ammunition runs out, or the shooter stops pulling the trigger.

The terms “machine gun” and “assault rifle” are exclusive to the fully-automatic class of firearm: these are legal terms and cannot rightly be applied to any other class

These guns are primarily used by military and para-military forces. Some hobby shooters have them as well, but these guns were made effectively illegal during prohibition. It takes tens of thousands of dollars to become licensed to own an automatic weapon. Whenever you hear someone say that a shooter used a “machine gun” or “assault rifle” to commit a crime, you can be sure that these terms are used incorrectly. If you hear a talking head say that anyone can obtain a “deadly assault rifle” without a background check or through some sort of loophole, you can be sure that that talking head is talking out of their backside. These guns are, if for cost reasons alone, so prohibitive as to be nearly impossible for even the most avid collector to obtain. Golly, I’d love a fully automatic gun… But I can’t afford the roughly $25,000 in licensing and about the same amount in purchasing the gun itself… (Sigh)… Maybe when I’m rich… (A guy can dream, right?)

Firearm types and those common uses:
There are 3 key types of firearms – the handgun, the rifle and the shotgun.

The handgun:

Handguns are great fun for the target shooter, but less than ideal for the hunter. Many hunters carry a backup handgun in the event that they are charged by an aggressive or wounded animal and need to defend themselves in shorter range. However, the primary use of handguns has always been as defensive weapons. With some exceptions, handguns are generally considered short range weapons. accuracy begins to drop substantially outside of about 20 yards for all but the best shooters. The handgun is subdivided into three common categories:

  1. The revolver: This firearm has a spinning cylinder which holds (usually) between 5 and 7 rounds of ammunition. While it is technically classed as a ‘Single Shot’ gun, an argument could be made to classify this gun as semi-automatic. This is the traditional “old west” type of gun. It is typically slow to reload, heavy (being all metal construction) and bulky. Different models vary in how to shoot: the old western movies show the shooter pulling down the ‘hammer’ on the back – some require this action, others don’t. This is a popular style of gun, but it is less effective in defensive uses than the next category, and had thus been phased out of use in law enforcement and military use.
  2. The pistol:This firearm has a magazine holding the ammunition in the handle. This semi automatic firearm uses the force of each round to expel the brass of the used ammunition and load the next round from the handle’s magazine, making this an efficient type of gun. Like the revolver, some pistols have a hammer that must be pulled before the first shot, but unlike those revolvers, not for the next shots. More common, however, is the pistol that doesn’t need to have a cocked hammer. Having either a metal frame of a plastic polymer frame, pistols can be lighter than revolvers, and are usually less bulky. These are easily reloaded, provided one has new magazines ready to use. Because of the effectiveness, speed, weight, and bulk of this gun, it has replaced the revolver in popularity among police and military, as well as among most defensive users, and many target shooters.
  3. The derringer This firearm usually only holds 1 or 2 rounds of ammunition, requires the hammer to be pulled in order to fire, and lacks accuracy and comfort.  While this style is old and common (John Wilkes Booth used a derringer to assassinate Abraham Lincoln), they are not the preferred gun of many. The primary advantages of this gun are that they are lightweight and small, making them easier to carry in a concealed setting…. but they are impractical in almost every other way.

The Shotgun:

Shotguns great for many uses. They are my preferred target gun. Generally, shotguns are the best guns for hunting small game including rabbit, squirrel, pheasant, and all other types of birds. By simply changing the ammunition type in a shotgun, they can also be used effectively against some large game such as deer. Shotguns provide excellent defensive use for short to mid range distances. Depending on the ammunition type, shotguns lose effectiveness between 50 and 100 yards.

Unlike handguns, shotguns are considered a ‘long gun.’ as the name suggests, they are longer than handguns. Generally a shotgun is brought to the shoulder and uses both hands to fire. There are both single shot and semi-automatic shotguns available to the public (fully-automatic exist as well, but are functionally illegal in the US, as previously discussed). These can have several different looks:

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From the Traditional looking ‘over-under’ double barrel shotgun;
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to the more modern looking semi-automatic sporting shotgun:
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To the impressive looking semi-automatic tactical shotgun

Each of the above guns is functionally similar. The top is a single shot gun, while both of the bottom two are semi-automatic shotguns. They are cosmetically different, having different intended uses, but (the bottom two particularly) are functionally the same.

 

The shotgun, unlike both the handgun and the rifle, generally has a smooth bore, which is the inside of the gun’s barrel. This decreases the effective range, but increases the variability of ammunition from a single gun. A single shotgun can shoot dozens of small BBs, called shot, in one round (bird-shot is the smallest, and holds the greatest amount), or can shoot eight or nine 9mm ball bearings (called buck-shot, used often for deer hunting, as a defensive ammunition, and is a favorite of law enforcement), or can shoot a single lead slug which can be almost 18mm in diameter (used for big-game hunting and defensive use: slugs have the greatest range of all shotgun ammunition) – all without any modifications to the gun itself, but simply by changing out the ammunition! This versatility makes the shotgun a favorite for many.

The Rifle:

Rifles are great for all uses. They are a lot of fun for target shooters. For hunting large game, including deer, elk, bear, and large cats, the rifle is the ideal gun. For defensive purposes, this type of gun is the best all around weapon. These can also be used for offensive purposes. The number of rifle types is substantial, and they can be modified to fit the specific needs of their particular shooter. Rifle’s have the longest effective range of the three gun types. I can think of one particular sniper shot, in Afghanistan, which was over a mile! Even excellent shooters, however, typically lose effectiveness outside of a couple hundred yards, depending on the gun.

Like the shotgun, the rifle is a long gun. And like the handgun, the rifle has a twisted bore, called ‘rifling,’ which is were it gets its name. This twisting spins the bullet as it leaves the gun, giving increased accuracy and range vs smooth bored guns. The advent of rifling changed history, and the Kentucky Long Rifle, known for its accuracy and range, helped to win the revolutionary war.

Rifles, like handguns, (but unlike shotguns) shoot bullets, rather than shot (varied sizes of BBs) or slugs.

Like shotguns and handguns, rifles can have many different appearances. And, like shotguns and handguns, can vary in classification from single shot to fully automatic. Here are several examples of the variation between rifle appearances:

To the untrained eye, one might see in the top picture a military weapon, designed for the use in war. The second might be seen as a target shooting gun, or for use in shooting cans. The third, to the untrained eye, may look just like a standard hunting rifle.

But the truth is that the 3 guns above are all functionally identical. The top image has hundreds (or thousands) of dollars worth of extra ‘stuff’ on it to customize it for the owner, the second image is what one might call the “stock options” and the third has replaced the grips and stock with wood finished parts for a pleasant look (I prefer the wood look myself), but all 3 are semi-automatic, AR-15 rifles.

So we see that what a gun LOOKS like is far less important that what the media tells us. If we listened to the talking heads, the gun on top would be the most dangerous by far! But that, again, shows either the ignorance or the dishonesty of the agenda-driven media and the politicians pushing for “common-sense control measures.”

 

Next time I do an article like this, I’ll focus on ammunition types. Like guns, there are tens of thousands of ammunition types, but there are a handful of basic rules