The Originator of Inalienable Rights

The men that drafted the United States Constitution acknowledged that human government eventually degenerates into tyranny apart from three related sources of law. The concept of natural law stems from the recognition that everything in the universe, including mankind, reveals something of the character of its Creator.

The concept of natural law is foreign to many of our modern scientists, educators, lawyers and even theologians due to the fact that much of the modern belief system is founded on the premise that everything happens randomly and that reason itself has nothing to do with the processes that we observe in our environment. Thus, according to many modern law professors, law is whatever the courts deem it to be.

A second source of law for the Founders was the law of Scripture. For years, it has been conventional wisdom to declare that the men that drafted the U.S. Constitution were deists; i.e., they believed that that a divine intelligence created the universe and then set it to operate like a clock without any intervention on the part of the Creator. The facts show that most of the Founders believed that the God of the Bible wants to be known by mankind and rewards those that diligently seek Him.

The Founders believed that the Scripture reveals things that God wants us to know about Him and about how to relate to God and each other. People that declare that we “should not mix religion with politics” don’t understand the Bible or history or the Constitution.

The Founders prayed during their deliberations, quoted the Scripture and made reference to “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” in the Declaration of Independence. Such phrases have a distinguished pedigree and were very familiar to men like Thomas Jefferson who had studied the common law of England via Blackstone, Coke and Bracton.

Bracton has been called the “Father of the Common Law” who wrote a treatise in the thirteenth-century dealing with the third source of law referenced by the Founders; i.e., English common law. Most of the thinkers that developed common law principles were, like Bracton, learned in church law and Roman law. In the time of King James I, Coke confronted the King’s lawyers in an ongoing controversy as to whether the law was whatever the king says it is or whether the English people possessed inalienable rights that were revealed in nature, the Scripture and English common law.

The debate reached a focal point when Parliament raised an army to do battle with King Charles I during the English Civil War (1642-48). By 1776, men like John Locke and Sir William Blackstone had firmly placed English legal thinking within a system that squarely opposed the classical Greek and Roman traditions that dominated most of European thinking by that time. See the Ninth Circuit’s Nordyke case decided April 20, 2009.

Although God’s laws have been recognized from the earliest times in the history of Catholic and Protestant thought, the tendency to subvert Judeo-Christianity by reinventions of Aristotle and Plato constantly threatened to subvert freedom. Even the bargain that Europe and America struck with the slave traders was posited upon Neo-Platonic thought. Puritan bred New Englanders and their counterparts among evangelical English Christians made up the ranks of Abolitionists that fought the slave trade because it marred the image of God to deprive a fellow man of freedom.

Blackstone also acknowledged what he called municipal or civil law in areas where God has allowed freedom to adopt rules that deal with areas that do not have an intrinsic relationship to God’s character. For example, the prohibition against murder stems from who God is; i.e., the value that God places on human life. The prohibitions in the Law of Moses against theft are a recognition of property rights; i.e., that the Lord has placed some of his dominion (or lordship; i.e., qualities of sovereignty) in each individual.

A law governing the export of wool to a foreign country, on the other hand, cannot be said to violate a moral law. A law that would require the taking of an innocent life is a quite different matter than, for example, an excise tax on imported petroleum or tea.

But this brings us to a question to which lawyers and philosophers and politicians have devoted many volumes. From where do we derive rights? The concept of inalienable rights was as little understood in ancient times as it is by most of us today. The pagan Greeks and Romans owned slaves and could dispose of their slaves as they wished because of the belief that a man’s superiority allowed him to sell, sodomize or even kill his slave.

Human worth was relative to one’s position in government and the thinking of men like Plato and the other classical philosophers reflected an elitist view of society. Thus, within the classical/pagan world view, all men were inherently unequal. Therefore, the prevailing assertion that the Founders drafted a document that represents a stream of Enlightenment thought and/or Greco-Roman jurisprudence should be rejected.

From the time of the Gregorian Reform in 1075, scholars conducted a systematic inventory in order to correlate and unify every area of knowledge so that government and law and theology and science reflected the truth of God’s Word. It was during that time that the concept of property as a right became firmly recognized.

A right (ius) or dominium was also recognized as a meritum (legal claim). Over the years leading up to 1789, various orders within the Catholic Church (e.g., Dominicans) and Protestant theologians like John Calvin continued to recognize rights as rooted in God’s command to mankind to take dominion over the environment. Thus, man has a duty to establish good government, to respect other men and women’s property and to protect life.

To forfeit one’s own life by not defending against physical attack is not permitted except in unusual circumstances where the duty to obey a higher calling demands that we lay down our duty to defend our God-given life, dignity, property and freedom.

From the foregoing basic discussion of the origin of rights, it may seem like such controversies belong to theoretical study of ancient philosophy. The fact is that the same controversy goes on to today. Current events announced in newspaper headlines reflect an underlying discussion as to the character of American government and whether it should be more like European government. The role of government in the economy has been a big issue, especially since the 1930s. For example, there are controversies over whether it is appropriate to encourage citizens to defend their families with armed force while so much senseless gun violence is committed every day. The recent shootings in Binghamton, NY are a case in point.

Beyond all the statistics and arguments, we can say with certainty that, even though we live pursuant to a “social contract” where compromise is inevitable, certain rights are inalienable. We cannot enter a contract to give up (or alienate) our right to defend our families and should disband a government that violates human dignity by wantonly killing the innocent, including religious or ethnic minorities.

If this seems too abstract, then take note of the fact that the twentieth-century witnessed socialism spread across much of the globe. Whether totalitarian socialism manifests as tribal warfare in Rwanda, the Khmer Rouge killing fields in Cambodia, National Socialism and corporate statism in the midst of the Germany Holocaust or Fascism, Bolshevism or something else- statist ideology is one of the most salient features of the 1900s- i.e., genocide.

Natural law was often referred to as “the law of nations” and international law is still premised upon precepts and principles that have consciously been developed from common law principles.

Hugo Grotius was a Dutch lawyer who laid the groundwork for a systematic understanding of international law as a unified field of knowledge. He started with the recognition that inalienable rights are an inherent characteristic of man’s dignity which derives from God having created mankind in His own image. Nevertheless, Grotius compromised with the spirit of his age (and the humanistic philosophies of Plato and Aristotle that informed the Enlightenment). By doing so, he opened up the Calvinistic commercialism of the Netherlands to the evil of slave trading.

The idea that the Second Amendment means something different than what the Founding Fathers wrote when they drafted the Constitution is another aspect of the same controversy. The idea that the Constitution means whatever the courts say it means coexists with theologians that declare that the Bible means whatever individuals interpret it to mean; the Scripture, however, declares about itself that Scripture is not for private or personal interpretation- each of us has the responsibility to submit our understanding to each other, to previous generations and to what God himself proclaims about his Word within the context of all the Scripture. By the same token, when we interprete the Constitution we should look to what the drafters meant to say; i.e., their intent.

Underlying the “spirituality” of many mainstream theologians is a pagan escape from reason that says man must create a sense of order on his own in a universe that has no order higher than a mystic pantheism that cannot be explained but must rather be sensed by a “leap of faith”. Some call this Christian existentialism; others prefer to call it mysticism. To anyone that cares about freedom, the jargon of such modern philosophers and theologians are the semantics of incipient statism.

David Kopel has written an article, “To Your Tents, O Israel,” in which he examines the Scriptural roots of the Second Amendment and then looks at the Biblical roots of the men and women that made America. By removing much of this history from our schools, educators have set us up for tyranny. Just as the Books of the Law were removed from Israel until rediscovered by Josiah, we Americans need to rediscover the Scriptural roots of our U.S. Constitution. Read and then weep in repentance for what we have been so busy forfeiting.

To Your Tents, America

They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel? My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.

Judges 5:6-9

The Song of Deborah memorializes a great battle in which volunteer militias delivered ancient Israel from oppression. The Old Testament pattern was very familiar to the drafters of the U.S. Constitution. The tendency of a people to slide into carelessness and the need to remain vigilant framed the writings of men like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. David Kopel has written an article, “To Your Tents, O Israel,” in which he examines the Scriptural roots of the Second Amendment and America’s Biblical roots.

Lack of vigilance leads to over-reliance on government; attitudes developed via easy living breed unpreparedness and invite disaster and political oppression:

Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof….

Judges 3:1 -4

The following is an excerpt from Judge Gould’s concurring opinion in Nordyke v. King, a new Second Amendment case. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that armed self-defense is an inalienable right enforceable against cities and states:

The right to bear arms is a bulwark against external invasion. We should not be overconfident that oceans on our east and west coasts alone can preserve security. We recently saw in the case of the terrorist attack on Mumbai that terrorists may enter a country covertly by ocean routes, landing in small craft and then assembling to wreak havoc. That we have a lawfully armed populace adds a measure of security for all of us and makes it less likely that a band of terrorists could make headway in an attack on any community before more professional forces arrived.1 Second, the right to bear arms is a protection against the possibility that even our own government could degenerate into tyranny, and though this may seem unlikely, this possibility should be guarded against with individual diligence.

The Ninth Circuit’s opinion sets forth the history of the American Revolution and the militia and Minutemen’s efforts to stop British statists from confiscating and/or destroying powder and ammunition stored in communities around Boston- the match that set the colonies on fire

“Indeed, the attempt by British soldiers to destroy a cache of American ammunition at Concord, Massachusetts, sparked the battles at Lexington and Concord, which began the Revolutionary War. For the colonists, the importance of the right to bear arms “was not merely speculative theory. It was the lived experience of the age,” states the Nordyke court.

I just returned from an Appleseed weekend during which almost 2,000 folks of all ages and backgrounds learned how to become riflemen (and women) with vivid accounts of Revolutionary era heritage. Along with boot-camp style rifle drills on ranges all over the USA (exactly 234 years after the shots heard around the world- i.e., April 18th, 1775), we learned that American leadership tried to avoid confronting British troops, the militaristic superpower of the day. But with aimed fire that reached out and killed Redcoats at 250 yards, the American patriots, after great provocation, eventually volunteered to demonstrate their discipline under fire.

Our times are like Joshua’s time because we have held back from driving out the enemies that seek to destroy our way of life. But a new generation must learn to make war. We are preparing even as our U.S. leadership invites war into the gates of the city. By reverting to the pre-911 mentality, the Obama administration is ensuring that a terrorist attack is more likely to occur in the near future than at any time since September 11, 2001.

See Appleseed Project: Fred’s Plan to Save America.

The NRA: American Success

In 1871, a former Union officer, Col. William C. Church, wrote a series of articles in a United States Army and Navy magazine. He was acting as a watchman sounding a clear call for training in marksmanship. Col. Church quoted another veteran officer who complained, “The general ignorance concerning marksmanship which I found among our soldiers during the Civil War appalled me.”

Col. Church went on to propose that an association be formed “to promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis….”

On November 17, 1871, the organization known today as the National Rifle Association of America was formed in order to answer that need. With notable exceptions, the Southern soldiers were much more adept at sharpshooting during the War Between the States and this had become a matter of great concern. The reason for the disparity in shooting skills seems to have been because the Northerners were urban dwellers and Southerners tended to be farmers and mountain people that lived in rural areas so the Southerners were more familiar with the handling of firearms and many more Southerners than Northerners supplemented their diets by hunting for wild game.

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed into law the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice, thus beginning a legislative agenda that eventually led to creation of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship. The purpose of these legislative initiatives was, “That every facility should be offered citizens outside of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and organized militia [National Guard] to become proficient in rifle shooting, and that this purpose can best be accomplished by means of rifle clubs.”

Pres. Roosevelt, an avid shooter, thought that it was necessary for the nation’s defense to provide rifles and facilities for civilians to develop good shooting skills via competition and other programs. This philosophy continued up until fairly modern times. Then the concepts of mutual assured destruction and other modern military theories combined to convince leaders in the United States government and the Armed Forces that small arms have very little relevancy to modern warfare.

MAD, the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction, became the underlying premise in many areas of official United States policy. The international structure for limiting nuclear arms by means of treaties (SALT Treaty, etc.) with the Soviets was super-power parity in which the parties agreed that each side in the super-power struggle would forfeit the right of deploying Antiballistic Missiles (ABMs).

In other words, the US leadership under Nixon and Kissinger agreed not to use missiles to protect the US population from our enemy’s missiles in order to hold each other’s populations hostage to a nuclear strike; i.e., we abdicated defense of the civilian populations by forfeiting our defensive posture against nuclear attack while theoretically ensuring our ability to destroy the Soviet populace by a retaliatory strike. Most of us never understood this because of the complicated bureaucratese that grew up around the professional apparatus surrounding such a diabolical arrangement.


Does it make any difference to our national security whether or not civilians learn how to shoot before enlisting in the United States Armed Forces?[pagebreak]

Special-Interests: How many times have you heard it declared that the NRA is a special-interest group? In a sense, of course, all the organizations that make their voices heard as part of the political process are interest groups. The NAACP, for example, is no less credible nor is it more venal because it represents the interest of people who want to ensure their civil rights. This is the kind of transactional politics that modern “liberals” worship.

But when an honest-to-God individual right like the right to keep and bear arms wins out in a conflict with collective statism militating towards collective rights, the beauty of transactional “quid pro quo” politics apparently loses its appeal- at least for those that lobby in favor of bestowing the state with a monopoly over deadly force.

The NRA is different than associations like the NAACP or AARP, however, because the gun lobby is supposedly financed by manufacturers of firearms (or so the argument goes). The conclusion, implied or stated, is that because guns are weapons and weapons are used to kill, therefore the “gun lobby” is even more insidious than other venal “special-interest” groups such as an association of automobile manufacturers or the American Bar Association, for that matter.

Incidentally, the NRA was open to Blacks from its very inception. In 1871, no other association existed in the U.S. in which integration was the rule. Quite possibly this was because General Ambrose Burnside, one of the NRA’s founding members, was a leader of Black Union troops during the Civil War; even during the Korean War (1950-1953) most white officers were reluctant to lead Black troops because of the perception that this would adversely affect an officer’s prospects for promotion.

The NRA has always been in the forefront of organizing competitions in which civilian, military and law enforcement personnel compete along side each other regardless of race.

United States military history is replete with countless examples of the interplay between civilian and military innovations in training and equipment. One good example of such cross-pollination is in the stories of how the U.S. met the challenge of Viet Cong sniper activities during the 1960s.

For some time, our men in Vietnam were almost helpless before enemy snipers who struck with almost total impunity at any time and place. Until men like Carlos Hathcock appeared on the scene.

Even after being trained in the skills of reconnaissance, stalking and long range shooting, a big problem remained for Hathcock and other snipers that were about to start saving American soldiers’ lives in Vietnam. There was a lack of appropriate weapons available.

The United States had been unable to develop a true sniper rifle because of a number of factors, including the prevailing tactical and strategic doctrines relating to the idea that small arms were mainly just for laying down as much suppressant fire power as possible and that teaching soldiers to shoot accurately might actually limit the troops’ ability to stop waves of Communist infantry.

Ironically, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln ordered that repeating rifles be acquired for the troops and his orders were circumvented because of a perception by the officer responsible for weapons contracts that replacing single shot rifles with lever action rifles would just cause troops to waste ammunition. Conversely, by the time of the Vietnam conflict, thousands of rounds of automatic rifle ammunition were fired that never hit anything!

In Vietnam the problem of enemy snipers dealing death from a distance was dealt with by individual soldiers acquiring Winchester 70 and Remington 700s in 30.06 and .308 calibers. Before long many of our shooters, almost all of whom learned shooting prior to joining the military (many in NRA programs,) were making shots that killed the enemy at 1500, 2000 and even 2500 yards!

Today, one of the preeminent military sniper weapons is basically a bolt action Remington 700 with a match grade barrel, competition trigger and customized stock, the M40-A1. Our guys in Vietnam were using deer rifles which were bought via catalogues from places like Sears.

Eventually the military started buying more of the sporting arms along with Sierra Match bullets, mostly in .30.06 and .308 calibers; one shot, one kill became the rule. Anyone out there that has some personal experience in these matters or a different perspective let me know.

It is indisputable, by any reckoning, that the NRA has fostered a culture that has contributed greatly to our Armed Forces and the effectiveness of the training given to law enforcement and other personnel all over the world.

Compare this to a country like China, for instance, where the government has dealt with its citizens by arbitrary brutality and violence. Mao Zedong was so effective in eliminating all private ownership of small arms that, according to Jung Chang in “Mao the Unknown Story”, there was a period after Chairman Mao came to power that wild animals were devastating livestock because the disarmed farmers and herders were unable to eliminate predators. Mao would complain if he heard even the sound of a gunshot. Mao would complain that gunshots broke his concentration.

Mao ordered house to house searches and guns and other contraband (like food) were confiscated in order to provide the Communist Chinese government with capital to purchase military equipment from the Soviets. The searches were so efficient that not only weapons but anything of value was plundered with harsh consequences for anyone hiding “contraband”.

People that are convinced that an armed civilian population presents insignificant force against professional armies should ask why every dictator is so bent on removing weaponry from the hands of those he would tyrannize. And the fact that tyrants hate private ownership of weapons raises the issue of why the media, academic and political elite always want to impose more “common sense” when it comes to gun ownership (until it comes to election time- then the candidates fawn all over the NRA). Many organizations exist that represent the interest of gun owners. There is no group that more effectively brings together the interests of gun owners, manufacturers and the national interest than the NRA.

The National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio have been held for one hundred years as a competition that joins military, law enforcement and civilian competitors from all over the world. This event is conducted by a number of organizations, not the least of which is the NRA.

Such joint cooperation between the firearms industry, civilian competitors, military and police shooters through the NRA and similar organizations occurs every day at countless ranges all over the country.

Every shooting event in which I have participated brings me into contact with men (and women) from every walk of life with shooting skills similar to men such as Carlos Hathcock. Some are active or retired military, some are police officers while others compete in order to hone skills acquired in civilian life. It is easy to take for granted, but it does not take a great deal of thoughtful research to discover that many of the shooting ranges, competitions and systematic knowledge that exists about the critical skills and technology of shooting could never exist without the enduring legacy and recognition deposited in this “special interest” group and the communities the NRA fosters.

Do you think that American citizens could presently own firearms and keep them in our homes were it not for all the lobbying, educating, mass mailing, exhortation and other political activities carried on by the NRA? Yes, it’s a partisan, special interest group and the NRA is a one-issue special-interest group, at that.

That one issue that the NRA stands for is guarding the Second Amendment and motivating the rest of us to exercise our right to keep and bear arms in ways that are productive, honest and honorable. Many ordinary U.S. citizens believe that the U.S. Constitution is well worth funding. We choose to do so as intelligent, informed citizens, participating as informed members of an organization that is built from the grassroots up. Members are professionals, vast numbers of union members, many of whom are dyed-in-the-wool Democrats.

Gov. Mike Huckabee, also a presidential candidate, recently told talk show host and CNN personality Glen Beck that as a holder of a concealed weapon permit that if the government comes to his door and demands his weapons during a time of emergency, his answer will be no, you are messing with my Constitutional rights!

New Orleans: Weapon confiscation is exactly what happened to armed citizens in New Orleans. At the time they most needed their weapons to defend themselves from imminent danger, while some police officers were looting ATM machines and just not showing up for work and armed gangs were roaming the streets, the authorities were taking guns away from citizens that were already devastated by a natural disaster. The citizens of new Orleans and the surrounding area were threatened by social chaos and helpless but for the ability of families and neighborhoods to protect each other. The government bureaucrats that had all but abandoned the citizens.

The elected leaders and nameless officals in the bureaucracies were trying to disarm the people during the time when the people had the greatest need to provide for their own defense. Many people that did not break any laws, who stayed at home and protected their families, are still trying to get back their legal weapons from the authorities in New Orleans, notwithstanding court orders that order the weapons be returned.

The NRA is litigating to make sure this never happens again. And the NRA is lobbying for legislation to ensure that such a travesty of justice never occurs again. Does anybody know whether such legislation is being proposed in the State of Washington?

It took many months just to get the City of New Orleans to admit that guns were confiscated. Then the City dragged its feet and made excuses in order to circumvent an injunction requiring the return of the weapons. New Orleans told the court it had to do background checks first in order to make sure the owners were not persons barred from owning weapons and the computer networks were still down, etc.

There is no other industry where the end-users and the manufacturers share such a closely shared set of interests than the firearms industry. That is why the media wants to portray gun owners as ignorant, backwards and misguided.

In fact, the statistics indicate that many of the ordinary people you meet on the street not only keep weapons in their home but they also may be legally carrying a concealed pistol in states that issue concealed carry licenses (only a few states- e.g., Illinois and Wisconsin- do not provide for concealed carry). This should make you feel more secure rather than overly concerned. Those weapons save lives in public places and homes and businesses every day all over the U.S. The media just never tells you about it because you can’t be trusted to possess that kind of knowledge. The truth about these matters undermines the myth that personal firearms are usually harmful to your health and statistically unlikely to make you safer from crime.

The media and the rest of the American corporate elite are not sure what you will do with the knowledge that guns in the right hands often deter violence rather than cause it. The Founding Fathers had some ideas on this subject. More and more lawyers are finally getting over the outmoded belief that the Constitution contains undiscovered rights that have been “developing” in the primordial social ooze. Laurence Tribe, for example, a preeminent professor of Constitutional law often associated with Democratic social activism, is one of the “Progressive” legal experts that has concluded that the Founders meant what they said and that the Second Amendment has real meaning for modern society.

The Last Men Standing


On January 22, 1879, Britain’s standing army suffered one of its greatest calamities. A few days later 150 ordinary men withstood 4,500 Zulu warriors to provide an example of “pluck” in the face of extraordinary odds. What is to be learned from history about the character of those men that can guide our attitudes toward leadership and how to endure in the face of impossible circumstances?

Lt. Col. Mike Snook is a serving officer of The Royal Regiment of Wales. His regiment is apparently the same regiment that plays an important role in his books about the British Empire’s confrontation with the Zulus in South Africa. The first book, HOW CAN MEN DIE BETTER, deals with the massacre at Isandlwana.

Messengers dispatched from the carnage at Isandlwana (less than eight miles away on the Buffalo River) brought the news that Zulu were headed for Rorke’s Drift, an old mission station that overlooked a river crossing. As soon as the news reached the men, the officers deployed men to move 200-lb mealie-bags and cases of meat out of the storehouse so that the building could be used to defend the unfortified outpost. The mission buildings stood about thirty-five yards apart and there was also a hospital with at least eleven rooms.

Since the mission was unprotected from attack there were only a few hours in which to stack the mealie-bags in order to create a defensive wall. In some areas a low rock wall already provided some defense but the men worked frantically to plug the gaps between the buildings.

Many of the hospital patients who were not completely helpless and fighting men were sealed into the barricaded hospital wards with sufficient ammunition to defend the hospital from loopholes improvised in the walls.

Knowing that the enemy could appear at any moment, every man worked stacking bags and using ox-wagons to reinforce the walls. It was too late to remove the dense brush and a stone wall twenty-five yards from the hospital that could provide cover for 300-400 Zulus.

A secondary perimeter of bags was created within the perimeter of the outer ring of mealie-bags to which the defenders could fall back. When time ran out, there significant gaps existed in the mealie-bag wall and a wood plank was put in place at the last minute.

The Zulu was a “courageous, crafty and dexterous light infantryman, who skirmished from cover to cover with consummate skill.” His assegais and other traditional weapons were supplemented by the one in four warriors armed with some kind of firearm, often smooth bore black-powder muskets, according to Lt. Col. Snook in LIKE WOLVES ON THE FOLD; THE DEFENCE OF RORKE’S DRIFT.

There is even evidence that some of the attackers at Rorke’s Drift may have been armed with Martini-Henrys. Snook concludes that there could not have been enough ammunition available even if the attackers had picked up a few of the rifles. Therefore shots that sounded like Martini-Henrys must have been carbines that used a .450-inch cartridge case with a slightly loader load.

The Undi Corps, four regiments of the Zulu reserve, contained some of the most elite warriors in Zululand. They had just missed the glory of washing their spears in British blood at Isandlwana but their idunas now launched “the horns of the buffalo” to encircle the defenders at Rorke’s Drift. The native horsemen deserted the British along with many of the European levies. This brought down the number of men that would hold the mission from 650 to 154, of which more than twenty were in the hospital and out of combat.

Lieutenant Bromhead VC

Thus, the men were forced to reconfigure the mealie-bag walls in order to defend the mission with fewer men. Less than an hour and a half from when preparations began, lookouts spotted Zulu stalking below rock ledges as thousands of other warriors formed on a rise. The first assault broke from cover at about 700 yards with the right horn heading for the wagon and mealie-bag barricade. The left horn went around the hospital to another shorter wall.

Lieutenant Chard VC

The British riflemen did not fire in synchronized volleys-the situation demanded independent fire. Although firing commenced at 600 yards, British firepower began demanding its due at 400 yards. As the attackers continued to surge forward with the protection of some cover, thirty British riflemen commanding the short western wall were each loading and firing Martini-Henry rifles every eight or nine seconds.

Even all this firepower that included Private William Dunbar (reputed to have shot eight or nine Zulus with eight or nine shots) could not drive the enemy to the ground. When the attackers closed to 200 yards, however, punishing fire commenced from the loopholes in the hospital and several other positions. A salvo at fifty yards crashed into twenty or thirty black-shielded iNdluyengwe and the shattered Zulu right flung themselves headfirst to the ground.

The survivors from the right now joined up with the Zulu left. The British were unable to bring their deadly firepower to bear due to a lack of loopholes and a rocky terrace that provided the Zulus cover close to the barricade in front of the hospital. About twenty-five men within the hospital compound now took the full brunt of a Zulu assault launched from a little over twenty yards in many places.

Stepping back from assegais thrusts even as they got off their first shots, the defenders prepared for close quarter combat at the barricade. Martini-Henrys are over four feet long and the ‘lunger’ bayonet adds twenty-two inches. It took one second to drop the lever and eject a spent casing without ever dropping the bayonet point from the ‘on guard’ position. If two or three seconds were available, a man could reach for a cartridge with his right hand and thumb it into the opened breach. Snapping the lever up closed the breach and cocked the weapon that was braced in the left hand.

The Zulus clambering over the wall depended on their shields to take the thrust of the bayonets. The Zulu cowhide shield could deflect bayonets but provided no protection from the British heavy caliber bullets, especially with three British officers, expert shots with Martinis standing behind the line of enlisted men. Other expert marksmen at the officers’ side also provided a second line of defense. The Zulus fell back and fresh warriors took their place and again the British extracted a heavy toll.

Dalton and Bromhead, two officers that organized the defense, set an example in the thick of battle that imparted ferocity to their men commensurate with that of the highly motivated Zulus who tried to grab rifles from the hands of the furiously lunging red-coated defenders. One Zulu wave after another crashed into British defenses with ubiquitous cries of ‘uSuthu!” Dehydration was intense as the hot sun lowered in the sky; the British purchased their lives by working bayonets without respite.

In between each Zulu assault, the impi wore down the defenders with constant close range musket fire that matched British firepower in quantity of lead thrown at the barricades, albeit less accurate firepower than the British brought to bear. The Zulus augmented these close quarter firefights with poorly aimed “sniper” fire from 350 yards out. Although few Zulu marksmen accurately understood how to sight their weapons, the Shiyane marksmen’s threat was serious within the confined area between the two buildings.

At this point retreating to the inner perimeter would have resulted in abandoning the hospital compound. When the compound was finally abandoned, groups of Zulu riflemen were able to enter the gaps in the wall. The men were forced again and again to charge from their position of cover to clear the compound, shooting, stabbing and full of adrenaline, with Bromhead leading from the front.

Chard ordered a retreat in order to contract the overextended perimeter, leaving the hospital “a British island in a Zulu sea.” At 6:00 PM, a line of British riflemen walked slowly backwards, peeling back the defenders on the barricades as they retreated to the new perimeter. Heavy suppressive fire prevented the Zulus from interfering. One hour remained before sundown as thirty British defenders within the hospital were thus stranded outside the new perimeter. Although there was a supply of ammunition within the new perimeter, Chard had inadvertently left the water cart near the hospital.

The defenders within the hospital were calling for ammunition, however, and Dr. James Henry Reynolds grabbed some cartridge packets, ran out of a gap in the biscuit box wall and through a gamut of gunfire to the hospital and then ran back again to the astonishment of Chard and his band of brothers manning the barricade. Enemy firepower was increasing as the Zulus began to occupy better positions within the former perimeter. Several men entered the area and engaged the enemy gunmen in an intense firefight that claimed the lives of British soldiers and not a few Zulu. Bouts of hand-to-hand combat continued to rage in a test of British nerve and endurance. Acts of heroism and courage redounded on both sides of the walls as bullets flew and brain matter and bayonets exploded through the air.

The hospital had to be abandoned after fighting stormed from one room to the next and the attackers lit the roof on fire. One of the defenders, Private John Waters, hidden in the hospital utility room in order to defend the disabled patients (others had left them behind) shot a number of Zulus in the back with his Martini-Henry.

From the time the fighting commenced at about 4:30 PM, the Martini-Henry breechloaders began to heat up. One peculiarity of the Martini rifle is that the wood on the stocks quickly becomes almost as hot as the barrels. Soldiers wrapped the stocks in cloth. Nevertherless, by evening, hands were burned. Continuous firing took its toll on the men’s shoulders, too. The recoil increased as the rifling in the barrels became fouled. Casings also became stuck in the breech due to fouling and failed to eject. Every shot could require prying the casing out with a pocket knife!

The Zulus attempted to light fire to the storehouse in order to force a conclusion to the intense battle before daylight. At 9:00 PM the British ceded another wall and concentrated their deadly firepower within their last bastion of defense. Despite further assault waves, the Zulus began to lose some of their motivation for the fight.

Nevertheless, the British prepared for a renewed onslaught in the morning. The impi chanted as the idunas exhorted the men to press forward into the darkness. The close-range flash of British muzzles awaited each new rush from the Zulu ranks. The British had been fighting for five exhausting hours and sensed that at dawn they would go down fighting in a massive attack. All of the British forces in Natal would be forted up, making hope for reinforcements nil.

Beginning with 34 boxes of .450-inch Boxer cartridges, the British were down to six boxes. With the rounds in their pouches, the soldiers had 100 rounds per man or 12,000 total. In five hours the men had used 25,000 rounds or 42 rounds an hour per man- excellent fire control! Another way of looking at it- the men had about two and one-half hours remaining before British fire came to an end at Rorke’s Drift. During the lull during the midnight hours, Bromhead organized a successful sortie to regain the water cart. The last shots were fired just before dawn.

Less than eight miles away on the Buffalo River, amid the carnage of Isandlwana, Lord Chelmsford’s despondent troops were preparing to slog through the stench of rotting corpses and feelings of overwhelming grief and shame to relieve the men at Rorke’s Drift. Men, mules, horses, oxen and dogs had been stabbed and were decomposing. Mutilated remains of animals and redcoats and dead Zulu, ripped open sacks of rice, flour and meal and piles of spent casings demonstrated the resolve of the redcoats to gamely fight until the last man fell.

At Rorke’s Drift, Chard and Bromhead’s men found the Zulus absent from the battlefield and immediately began preparing for fresh waves of Zulu by clearing fields of fire and improving their barricades in the dawn’s first light. Piles of Zulu bodies, especially around the hospital, made clear that the Martini-Henrys had earned their grim pay. Dr. Reynolds examined the wounded men and administered comfort to the dying. Fifteen men were dead and two more died that day of their wounds. At least one hundred firearms dropped by dying Zulus (as many as 4,500 casualties, according to some estimates), provided evidence of how the Zulus were armed.

The defenders spotted a large group of Zulu moving into position on a hill and waited to see what would happen next. Even as the men at Rorke’s Drift waited, a British column was making its way from Isandlwana between Zulu regiments as the remaining Zulus moved away from the mission station.

GOC Chelmsford debriefed Chard and Bromhead. Arriving companies surveyed the mission station in amazement. Needless to say, the survivors of Rorke’s Drift rarely needed to purchase their own drinks anywhere within the British Empire for the rest of their lives.

Eventually the blame for Isandlwana had to be assessed. General Officer Commanding Chelmsford, tried to shift the blame to Colonel Durnford but eventually became the focus of blame himself. Historians have created vast tapestries depicting blame games that play out following debacles like Isandlwana but, for purposes herein, we will hold to our purpose of pulling out the inner moral truth displayed by the 150 men at Rorke’s Drift.

The Boers had long ago developed a method of dealing with Zulus that was standard doctrine for all British forces; i.e., to form up into a box, with wagons circled and a 360 degree line of fire.

Complacency brought on by over-confident leadership and a failure to understand innovations in Zulu warfare lulled the Redcoats at Isandlwana into the spreading out the British companies; the companies became separated from each other.

Compare the 858 dead out of a British force comprising a total of 1,200 men to the minimal numbers of men that lost their lives at Rorke’s Drift. Attacked by at least 12,000 Zulus (24,000 may have been in the vicinity of Isandlwana) only 60 Europeans survived the massacre that unfolded in the shadow of Isandlwana Hill.

In conclusion, the qualities of resolve and keeping one’s head in the face of doom are exemplified by Lieutenant Bromhead, Bourne (the most senior man in the company after Bromhead), Chard and the stolid Welshmen that made up approximately 40 percent of the 2nd Battalion. Every man at Rorke’s Drift was a hero because the B company of the 2nd/24th fought together as a unit and endured by continuing to stand.

Can Airsoft People Survive in a .50 Caliber World?


On January 28, 2009, in a Federal Way Mirror article about the 1994 assault weapons ban, we reviewed some important issues raised when the men that drafted the U.S. Constitution disagreed about the question of whether to authorize “standing” armies. There were those on one side that felt national security might be neglected without a Constitutional provision mandating a full time, professional army. On the other side were men like Thomas Jefferson that saw the potential for the proposed federal government and full-time standing armies (like we have today) to become a new form of tyranny.


The Founders included the right to keep and arms in the Bill of Rights largely in order to satisfy proponents on both sides of this question. The modern objection that usually follows is that any invading military force that gets through the US Armed Forces will not be deterred by an armed citizen standing on his or her porch with a handgun. Nor is he going to prevent domestic armed forces from suppressing the populace should domestic tyranny arise.

Thus, the Second Amendment is an anachronism. Or is it? The American “rabble” defeated Britain’s unrivaled superpower forces that dominated much of the world’s land mass and all of the high seas. One advantage held by the colonial “minutemen” were long-barreled Kentucky rifles, with state of the art grooves that sent balls of lead spiraling into British columns with accuracy at distances that British smooth-bore weapons could not touch. Such rifle technology was available because colonial farmers and backwoodsmen were constantly handling and improving variants of evolving European designs.

Britain was across the Atlantic and lacked modern transport to bring the wily colonials to submission. The Soviet Union faced no such limitations when it invaded neighboring Finland- twice! Finnish citizen-soldiers halted Soviet troops in the 1939 Winter War and again in 1941!

Accurate shooting combined with the Finnish ability to travel across frozen lakes and forests on skis, provided numerous opportunities to obtain Russian arms and ammunition compatible with Finnish weapons.

Chinese Communist peasants and workers fought the well-armed Chinese Nationalists (supposedly at the same time that they were holding off invading Japanese forces). The Long March (actually more than one retreat from the Kuomintang over thousands of miles) seems to have been proof to Mao and his admirers that allowing citizens to own guns in China is unimaginable folly. In fact, no dictator has ever permitted such a situation to exist for very long.

We aren’t talking about standing on your front porch with a pistol or even a deer rifle! The Second Amendment is about handling and working with weapons that are militarily useful.

Ron Barrett’s .50 caliber rifle (outlawed in California) represents a heritage that puts Barrett along with American innovators like Samuel Colt, John Browning, and John Garand.

Such designers working in private sector shops and garages developed efficient guns used by civilians and military. Military and civilian shooters and designers in the U.S. always came from the same cultural fabric. The Founders knew that freedom to handle militarily useful firearms prepares each generation to pass on that heritage in a world that is hostile to freedom.

See video of Winter War.

Roundheads, Firearms, and the American Rifleman

There are dozens of shooting ranges and clubs in Western Washington and all over the United States. As early as 1466, shooting clubs were formed in Switzerland and, by the 15th Century, Schutzenfahnlein companies in Germany and the Swiss cantons boasted flags depicting crossbows and target rifles. Before long, many armies were combining pikemen with units of smoothbore musketeers that were almost accurate at 200 hundred yards to break up squares of massed troops. By the 1600s, weapons with grooved rifling began to show up on European battlefields.

Since that time, a rifleman culture, developed in many countries at once, culminating in the United States where civilian and military shooters have participated in competition together and shared knowledge and technology for many generations. The difference between a rifle and the earlier smooth bores is that the lead ball grips the rifling, resulting in spin that produces accuracy at ranges three times the distance of the smooth bore muskets.

During the Thirty Years War (1618-35), King Gustavus Adolphus II of Sweden was wounded by a Polish sharpshooter. The Dutch Republic soon began to export firearms, touching off an arms race that never really stopped.

See also Seige of Leyden.

The advantage of rifles over muskets at long range soon became evident, but the necessity of forcing a large ball against tightly fouled grooves made early rifles difficult to load quickly. The English Civil War (1642-48) was one of the first wars in which firearms were to predominate. Matchlock rifles began to appear but the most significant impact of the English Civil War on firearms technology may have been the influence of those times on a generation that was born a hundred years later in England‘s American colonies.

Men like Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Adams were raised on concepts of law, government and liberty that were set in motion by Parliament’s Roundhead militias that opposed Royalist claims to the “divine right” of kings.

American woodsmen came into contact with German and Swiss mercenaries armed with rifled firearms during the Seven Years War. By the time of the Revolutionary War, Americans demonstrated that a smaller ball fired from a long rifle was deadly at distances of 400 yards.

But see Ferguson Rifle.

The new American rifleman wasn’t a sporting man like the early Swiss and German shooters and he wasn’t a religious fanatic like some of Cromwell’s Roundheads. The new breed had learned to reject elitism under the lash of British officers during the French & Indian War and had studied tactics fighting alongside and against native American warriors.

Firearms technology and history conspired in early America to favor carrying, shooting and working with rifles and other shooting equipment. In Europe innovation shifted to huge enterprises like Krupp Arms, forever associated with progressive Germany’s 20th Century concepts of national socialism. In the United States, on the other hand, individual men like John Browning, proved that individual freedom trumps big government and every weekend there are Washingtonians in competitions all over the state perfecting long range shots that are still heard around the world.

Ferguson Rifle
1776 English

Major Patrick Ferguson patented this breech loading flintlock rifle in England, 1776. Only about 200 were made. The number ‘2’ stamped on the trigger guard distinguishes this one from the others.

Walnut, iron, brass. L 124.5 cm, L (barrel) 86.4 cm
Morristown National Historical Park, MORR 2375

See more on the design of the Ferguson Rifle.

Jews Present Armed Resistance

As modern day Israel prepared to celebrate Purim, a Palestinian gunman was preparing to slaughter Israeli people in the same way that Haman attempted to do in the time of Esther. Purim is the annual celebration of the great deliverance of the Jewish people in the days of Queen Hadassah (Esther):

These holy days are observed to honour the defeat of the enemies of GOD’S people. Purim commemorates the downfall of Haman (means: tumult), the enemy of the Jewish people in the Persian Empire. As such, Haman is a type of Satan, the “accuser” – the one who has throughout history, sought to eliminate the Hebrew race. Haman had the king’s servants cast lots (purim) to determine the date on which the Jews would be destroyed, but his wicked plan was thwarted because of GOD’S great mercy and the obedience of Hadassah (Queen Esther).

“Purim” (casting of lots) is explained like this: Haman, having been warned that all enemies of the Jews had in the past met with frustration, being superstitious, decided to cast lots to determine the most favourable day for the slaughter.

But it turned out that Haman was hanged on the same gallows which he had previously prepared for Mordecai, and all the Jews escaped a terrible massacre. The next day, the 14th of Adar, the victory was joyously celebrated.

After the Persian royal advisor, Haman’s genocidal plot to rid the world of the Jewish people was foiled, “V’nahafoch Hu!” (roughly interpreted: “and the tables were turned!”) became the rallying cry of the Jewish people during the month of Adar. Today the Talmudic sages advise [Tractate Ta’anit 29a] Jews throughout history to seek to schedule critical events, in which Divine assistance is desired, during the month of Adar:

On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, the king’s decree was supposed to be executed. The enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower the Jews that day, but the plot was overturned, and the Jews overpowered their enemies.

Throughout King Achashvairosh’s provinces the Jews gathered in their cities to defend themselves against those who tried to hurt them. No one could withstand them, because everyone was afraid of them.

Even the provincial ministers, the satraps, the governors, and the king’s pages, supported the Jews, because they were afraid of Mordechai.

You see, Mordechai had become very influential in the king’s household, and his reputation was known throughout the empire; as a result, Mordechai was becoming more and more powerful.

The Jews struck at all their opponents with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they defeated all their enemies.

In Shushan Capital the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men.

They also killed Parshandasa, Dalfon,Aspasa, Porasa, Adalya, Aridasa, Parmashta, Arisei, Aridei and Vayizoso, the ten sons of Haman, the son of Hamdoso, persecutor of the Jews. But they did not pillage their property.

They notified the king of the death toll in Shushan Capital the same day it occurred.

The king said to Queen Esther, “In Shushan Capital the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men, as well as the ten sons of Haman. Who knows what they did in the more distant provinces of the empire? Whatever you want, you will be given; whatever your request, it will be done.”

Esther replied, “If it pleases the king, may the Jews of Shushan have tomorrow also, with the same rules as today? And also, could the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows?”

The king ordered these things to be done. The decree was announced in Shushan, and also the ten sons of Haman were hanged on the gallows.

So the Jews of Shushan gathered again on the fourteenth day of Adar, and they killed another three hundred men in Shushan, but they did not pillage their property.

The Jews in the rest of the empire also gathered to defend themselves and get peace from their enemies, and they killed a total of seventy-five thousand, but they did not pillage their property.

They fought their battle on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and they rested on the fourteenth. So they made the fourteenth day of Adar a day of feasting and celebration.

The Scriptural explanations above are from a Messianic and Jewish teachers. Surprisingly, the Persian Emperor, deceived by Haman’s manipulation, issued an edict for the massacre of the Jewish people. Esther informed the Emperor-King of the deception and the only way that he could legally undo his own decree was to issue a new edict permitting the Jews to defend themselves. The decree had the same effect as the modern day Second Amendment. Although it was a temporary decree, genocidal killing was stopped as the Jews turned the table on those who would have killed and plundered them. The death toll was great but the Persians that were foolish enough to seek Jewish blood died instead.

The following is a recent example of how Israel’s modern history contains many events that convey to an open minded observer that supernatural military events are still occurring. The modern Purim story of the Mercaz Harav seminary is also an example of what military strategists call swarming tactics where as soon as the enemy attacks or presents a target of opportunity, opposition coalesces spontaneously as a result of units that are prepared to react to random situations that are impossible to anticipate by means of conventional response planning:

From BBC News

Eight people have been killed and nine wounded by a Palestinian gunman who infiltrated a Jewish seminary in West Jerusalem, Israeli officials say. The gunman entered the school’s dining room and opened fire with an AK-47.

Witnesses said the gunman went into the library at the Mercaz Harav seminary in the city’s Kiryat Moshe quarter and opened fire.

The assailant, who Israeli police said was a resident of East Jerusalem, was shot dead by an Israeli army officer.

The attack is the worst of its kind in Israel for a number of years.

The White House has led international condemnation but the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas called the attack “heroic” while not claiming responsibility.

When we got in… we saw young, 15-, 16-year-old guys lying on the floor with their Bibles in their hands – all dead on the floor.

However, the 15-strong UN Security Council failed to agree on a resolution condemning the attack because of reservations from temporary member Libya, which sought to link it to Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip.

A previously unknown group called the “Jalil Freedom Battalions – the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh and Gaza” claims to have carried it out, according to Lebanese Hezbollah media.

The fact that the school is at the heart of the settler movement in the occupied West Bank may have been the reason why it was targeted, BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen reports.

Many of its students are on special courses that combine religious study with service in combat units in the Israeli army, he notes.

There will be an Israeli response to this attack, our Middle East editor adds – the question is how severe it will be.


The gunman entered the library at the Mercaz Harav seminary on Thursday evening, where about 80 students were gathered, and fired an AK-47 rifle for several minutes, witnesses say.

One of the students, Yitzhak Dadon, reportedly shot the gunman twice before he was finally killed by an off-duty Israeli army officer, who had gone to the school after hearing gunfire.

“I shot him twice in the head,” he told the Reuters news agency.

“We heard shooting and knew that something had happened,” recounted Yitzhak Dadon, 40, who studies at the yeshiva. Dadon said he cocked his handgun and went up to the roof of the yeshiva, where he saw the terrorist spraying gunfire indiscriminately at the crowd inside. Dadon said he fired two bullets at the terrorist, who began to stumble.

“He started to sway and then someone else with a rifle fired at him, and he died.”

Another man told the BBC that there had been “terrible scenes” inside the building afterwards.

“When we got in… we saw young, 15-, 16-year-old guys lying on the floor with their Bibles in their hands – all dead…” he said.

Jerusalem police commander Aharon Franco confirmed there had been only one gunman and said he had hidden his weapon in a cardboard box.

Celebratory gunfire reverberated throughout Gaza City, as groups of Hamas militants marched through the streets waving green flags and calling out over loudspeakers: “Allah gave us this victorious day, because we deserve our freedom.”

John Lott, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, provides the following analysis for comparison with the above referenced scenes in Jerusalem and the Middle East:

As Northern Illinois University restarts classes this week, one thing is clear: Six minutes proved too long.

It took six minutes before the police were able to enter the classroom that horrible Thursday, and in that short time five people were murdered, 16 wounded.

Six minutes is actually record-breaking speed for the police arriving at such an attack, but it was simply not fast enough. Still, the police were much faster than at the Virginia Tech attack last year.

12,000 people, including relatives of the Northern Illinois University students killed Feb. 14, attend a memorial Sunday in DeKalb, Ill. The previous Thursday, five people were killed in the city council chambers in Kirkwood, Mo. There was even a police officer already there when the attack occurred.

But, as happens time after time in these attacks when uniformed police are there, the killers either wait for the police to leave the area or they are the first people killed. In Kirkwood, the police officer was killed immediately when the attack started.

People cowered or were reduced to futilely throwing chairs at the killer. In attacks last year at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Neb., the Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City and the recent attack at the Tinley Park Mall in Illinois, or all the public school attacks, they had one thing in common: They took place in “gun-free zones,” where private citizens were not allowed to carry their guns with them.

The malls in Omaha and Salt Lake City were in states that let people carry concealed handguns, but private property owners are allowed to post signs that ban guns; those malls were among the few places in their states that chose such a ban.

In the Trolley Square attack, an off-duty police officer fortunately violated the ban and stopped the attack. The attack at Virginia Tech or the other public school attacks occur in some of the few areas within their states that people are not allowed to
carry concealed handguns.

It is not just recent killings that are occurring in these gun-free zones. The Columbine High School shooting left 13 murdered in 1999; Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, had 23 who were fatally shot by a deranged man in 1991; and a McDonald’s in Southern California had 21 people shot dead in 1984.

Nor are these horrible incidents limited to just gun-free zones in the U.S. In 1996, Martin Bryant killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Australia. In the last half-dozen years, European countries — including France, Germany and Switzerland — have experienced multiple-victim shootings. The worst in Germany resulted in seventeen deaths; in Switzerland, one attack claimed the lives of 14 regional legislators.

At some point you would think the media would notice that something is going on here, that these murderers aren’t just picking their targets at random. And this pattern isn’t really too surprising. Most people understand that guns deter criminals.

If a killer were stalking your family, would you feel safer putting a sign out front announcing, “This home is a gun-free zone”? But that is what all these places did.

Even when attacks occur, having civilians with permitted concealed handguns limits the damage. A major factor in determining how many people are harmed by these killers is the time that elapses between when the attack starts and someone is able to arrive on the scene with a gun.

In cases from the Colorado Springs church shooting last December, in which a parishioner who was given permission by the minister to carry her concealed gun into the church quickly stopped the murder, to an attack last year in Memphis to the Appalachian Law School to high schools in such places as Pearl, Miss., concealed handgun permit holders have stopped attacks well before uniformed police could possibly have arrived. Just a few weeks ago, Israeli teachers stopped a terrorist attack at a school in their country.

Indeed, despite the fears being discussed about the risks of concealed handgun permit holders, I haven’t found one of these multiple-victim public shootings where a permit holder has accidentally shot a bystander.

With about 5 million Americans currently with concealed handgun permits in the U.S., and with states starting to have right-to- carry laws for as long as 80 years, we have a lot of experience with these laws and one thing is very clear: Concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding. Those who lose their permits for any gun-related violation are measured in the hundredths of a percentage point.

We also have a lot of experience with permitted concealed handguns in schools. Prior to the 1995 Safe School Zone Act, states with right-to-carry laws let teachers or others carry concealed handguns at school. There is not a single instance that I or others have found where this produced a single problem.

Though in a minority, a number of universities — from large public schools such as Colorado State and the University of Utah to small private schools such as Hamline in Minnesota — let students carry concealed handguns on school property. Many more schools, from Dartmouth College to Boise State University, let professors carry concealed handguns. Again, with no
evidence of problems.

Few know that Dylan Klebold, one of the two Columbine killers, was closely following Colorado legislation that would have let citizens carry a concealed handgun. Klebold strongly opposed the legislation
and openly talked about it.

No wonder, as the bill being debated would have allowed permitted guns to be carried on school property. He attacked Columbine High School the very day the legislature was scheduled to vote on the bill. With all the media coverage of the types of guns used & how the criminal obtained the gun, at some point the news media might begin to mention the one common feature of these attacks: They keep occurring in gun-free zones.

Gun-free zones are a magnet for these attacks.

Crucible of War

I got interested in the French and Indian War from viewing one episode of a PBS documentary series called “The Making of America”. “Crucible of War” is available in a relatively shorter format under the same title as the documentary, “The Making of America”. The title of the PBS series and the abridged version of this amazing narrative tells a great deal about the importance of the years before, during and after the Seven Years War (officially spanning the years from 1754-1763).

The Seven Years War, fought between Britain and her allies and France and the forces aligned behind the French power, splayed out across continents and oceans. There were at least three other such wars that set the stage for conflict between Britain and France in the theater of North America- King William’s War (1689–1697), Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713) and King George’s War in the 1740s.

The first way that warfare between two European super powers in the wilderness of America “made America” is in that warfare with the French and Indians trained future American leaders and operated as a crucible of character to men like George Washington. The Jumonville Glen skirmish in 1754 was George Washington’s first taste of action.

Washington led an ambush against a band of French; initially ten French soldiers were killed and then, to young George’s horror, he lost control of his Indian allies and the Indians suddenly massacred the French who had already surrendered and been disarmed. The French commander Jumonville claimed he had been sent to extend an offer of peace with the British.

The Battle of the Great Meadows (or Battle of Fort Necessity), was a disaster for Washington and his men. Due to Washington’s inexperience, the enemy was able to fire upon Washington’s men from concealment within the tree line. Washington’s men were pinned down in trenches and were taking fire from within a log palisade that provided poor cover. It started to rain. To make matters worse, the British were out of ammunition. Washington asked for terms and surrendered to the French.

The focus of this book review is on character and the author does a good job of drawing out the characters of all the major players, from King George to George Washington to Pontiac, who led a final bloody war to try to bring back his French allies who had been ousted from Montreal in 1760. By that time Britain controlled most of the interior of North America at least to the banks of the Mississippi and beyond.

Britain’s naval power was crucial to winning North America. Without the fighting abilities of the colonial backwoodsmen, however, the outcome might have been in doubt. The French had much better relationships with their Indian allies than the British and understood how to effectively fight guerrilla warfare.

The Brits, on the other hand, marched into battles in regimental ranks with only their quintessential pluck. They were often cut down mercilessly by fighters concealed in the woods.

Beyond the obvious difference in tactics and the benefit that men like Washington attained by emulating the British officers with whom they came into contact, there was a more subtle process going on. The colonial militias were mustered from small communities and each unit contained men that knew each other as brothers, relatives and neighbors.

The British regular army officers, drawn from the upper classes of Britain, treated the colonials in ways that began to breed resentment and often contempt. The militia volunteers saw British rule in a less favorable light after seeing their brothers and friends flogged and even hung for infractions against strict British discipline. The fact that elitist British officers disdained the frontier “rabble” and refused to understand that a new breed of man was emerging from the colonial wilderness, created a belief that American colonials were lazy and only interested in what they could take out of the British mercantile system and for themselves.

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (aka “the Great Commoner”), took over the direction of the war and, as Secretary of State, managed the war personally.

Perhaps his greatest success in North America was recruiting cooperation from the colonial politicians and encouraging enlistment by recalcitrant colonial British subjects, aka the Americans. He did this in a way that is very familiar to Americans today, with huge injections of borrowed cash pumping up the colonial economy and pay incentives for the volunteers.

In 1763, the warring parties in Europe signed the Treaty of Paris, thus ending the conflict. The colonial economy went into a tail spin along with the rest of the British economy, a result of deficit spending and Britain’s attempts to restructure colonial trading policies in such a way as to justify the expense of maintaining a military presence within the colonies.

Consequently trade within the British Empire languished for several years. When the Stamp Act was introduced (a small fee on legal documents and other official papers), the colonials exploded. Some of the worst elements in the cities took to the streets and began looting the homes of British officials.

Along with other elite members of the British power structure, the British leadership was forced to hide from throngs of sailors, tradesman and other “Sons of Liberty” hell bent on burning the ruling class members in effigy, accosting them, stealing their household goods (which were sumptuous) and literally burning them out.

This conduct arose from a number of economic and political factors that seemed to be caused by different situations in each region. But the eruptions occurred all over the Eastern Seaboard and took Parliament totally by surprise.

So what is the character of the New Man that emerged from out of this maelstrom? To most British, the Americans were ungrateful and treacherous malcontents, fighting to free themselves from French and Indian terrorism only after benefitting from ungodly infusions of cash. Now that the war was over, the Americans did not want to pay any taxes levied by Parliament, unreasonably insisting that such taxes violated their rights under England’s common law and the natural law (inalienable God-given rights of English citizens). From an objective perspective, any legal basis for denying that England could impose relatively small taxes or even large taxes on her subjects is highly dubious.

But something had happened at a deeper level. The study of warfare inexorably demonstrates that protracted conflict shapes men’s consciousness in ways that are impossible to predict. The very concept of being an American was developing as young British colonists interacted with members of the most powerful military in the world, closely observing strengths and weaknesses, the foibles, follies and valor of the mightiest army and economic machine in Europe. The young backwoodsman would have grown up with romantic notions about British culture, coming to military service enthusiastically embracing the mores and military culture of the cherished homeland.

But many mustered out with the sense that Americans were different than their English cousins. We fought differently, thought differently and our very consciousness was, well… American!

Think about struggling up a clear-cut hillside with only a few stumps for cover toward an abattoir (literally slaughterhouse) of trees felled to halt your progress in an open kill zone. The British officers are goading you on at the point of a sword to proceed into a hail of grapeshot, musket balls and canister explosions (pieces of metal exploding out of projectiles fired from cannons). Cannonballs are bouncing off the ground and ripping the limbs off your brothers, neighbors and fellow militia troops- mostly colonial British-American volunteers (i.e., Americans) fresh off the farm. The officers have made it clear that they consider you and your neighbors to be lazy, ignorant and backwards. At best a disorganized mob of rabble.

It may help to think about our professional volunteers in Iraq trying to train the Iraqis to fight. The difference, however, is the American could probably shoot better than the British and had experience fighting Indians that totally eluded the professionals, trained as they were to stand and deliver musket shot in close drill formation.

British Army (First Model) Long Land Pattern Brown Bess Flintlock Musket

The main criticism I have for the author, Fred Anderson, is that he spent too much time on the details of colonial and Parliamentary politics. I never was able to learn when and how the colonials were using their smooth bore or rifled firearms (probably all smooth bore at that time?). The book discusses little or nothing related to weaponry or comparisons between the respective technologies of firepower on each side.

I am assuming that the colonial militiamen were expected to provide their own weapons but the long rifle may have just started getting a foothold in America at this time. I suspect the British may have had the Brown Bess and some rifled weapons- although available, muskets, not rifles were the mainstay for the British. The doctrine in most European armies of the time was that aimed fire was a distraction from the regimented cadences of firing on command, loading and waiting for the next command to fire, all the while standing squarely before cascades of musket ball ripping through the ranks of your fellow soldiers standing at attention. Hopefully some of our weapons experts will weigh in on such questions.

The author states that he was trying to:

1. “…give a sense of movement through time”; …and “concentrate on critical transitions from the past toward the present.”…to integrate “latent events”–demographic trends, migration patterns, and other fundamental conditions that contemporary witnesses did not fully grasp, but which have become evident in retrospect–with “manifest events” such as wars and commercial depressions, on which contemporaries commented;

2. …because these new narrators had to connect the latent and the manifest in history, they would need to address the “critical transitions” they described not narrowly or in isolation, but as part of world-historical processes. Finally, the writers of these narratives would have to integrate the history of culture and consciousness into the history of external events;

3. …include static, “motionless” portrayals of situations, circumstances, and points of view of the past, but they will be essentially dynamic; they will concentrate on change, transition, and the passage of time; and they will show how major aspects of the present world were shaped–acquired their character–in the process of their emergence.

The author argues that “the Seven Years’ War was a theater of cultural interaction. Insofar as each group had leaders, their actions, decisions, and understandings had to play a central role in creating the tapestry of stories that would make up the narrative as a whole. Because the war was also a world-girdling conflict, I tried to frame these largely North American interactions with the strategic, political, and diplomatic narrative of the war as a whole. Finally, because I intended to examine both the war and its effects, I extended the coverage of the narrative beyond the typical endpoints of 1760 (the conquest of Canada) or 1763 (the Peace of Paris) into the postwar era, in order to explain such events as the Stamp Act crisis not as harbingers of Revolution, but as results of changes in imperial relationships.”

Whenever I read such a book, I try to relate the historical facts to how we live and make individual decisions today, decisions that have foreseeable and unforeseeable effects on our personal character, the characters of future generations of our individual offspring and the cultural characteristics of life in the United States. But most of all what I am asking myself is about that abstract sense of what it means to be an American. Or how does it feel to be an American?

For some people it evidently causes feelings of shame to be identified with a war in Iraq that is “colonial” and immoral. See book review about the Philippine-American War:

The War in the Philippines (officially lasting from 1898-1902), like most wars, actually continued for many years afterwards. The war with the Moros in the southern regions of the Philippine archipelago is being waged to this day with the U.S. presently engaging Islamicists in a rarely reported theater of warfare.

The Philippine conflict was a protracted war that, without a doubt, caused more loss of life on both sides and collateral damage to civilians by intentional brutality and disease than the war in Iraq. The Iraq expedition has been the most precisely waged and politically correct exploit in the history of warfare. The war in the Philippines had no geopolitical strategy, was almost purely accidental and only came about as a result of McKinley’s total inability to decisively rein in Theodore Roosevelt and others like him that made today’s Neo-Conservatives seem like Sunday School teachers. Yes, Virginia, the attempts to put down the Philippine “insurrection” had far less legitimacy than the incursion in Iraq (no one even voted for it right before they voted against it).

Roosevelt, without any authority whatsoever (he wasn’t the president or even the appropriate cabinet official), took it upon himself to send the Navy to Manila. There wasn’t an important commodity like oil at stake, or allegations of WMDs stockpiled in secret warehouses and laboratories for nerve gas, biological weapons, etc. There was not even a Hans Blix to oversee inspections and provide an imprimatur of propriety and moral outrage and, oh, the anti-imperialists howled. Today, most Filipinos love America, economic imperialism notwithstanding, and even though the foreign aid has been diminishing for years. We are quietly spending a great deal of money to fight Islamic terrorists in Southern Mindanao, however, but I digress.

Every day we have more men and women returning from Iraq. What have they seen there, how do they feel as they listen to the cacophony of dissension at home? What are they learning about the Middle East and that cultural tapestry in which they are required to interact, obtain intelligence and win hearts? What are they seeing in the American people?

I don’t know, but I do know that one tenet of Neo-Conservative philosophy is that war builds character. War changes character but I dare to suggest that war in and of itself cannot improve character. The wars in China over hundreds of years culminated in the reign of Chairman Mao, the ultimate warlord. The wars in Europe revealed Hitler and Stalin and a century (the Twentieth Century) of worldwide genocide and brutality that has no parallel in the past.

All this, and more, while unparalleled human and industrial progress exploded in exponential leaps of quantum and technological energy.

And what is happening to the younger generation that stayed at home? According to the media, morale has been destroyed and faith in the social contract has never been lower. Supposedly the torch is about to pass, either from a regressive baby-boomer President to a “progressive” baby boomer like Hillary or to someone like Barak Obama that claims to represent a break with the stagnating controversies of the Sixties that still bedevil the body politic. But there are other indications that the people of Iraq are experiencing a surge of freedom, relative peace and burgeoning prosperity. In whom do we place our trust?

To me such questions and issues of character constitute the fascination of history and the salient theme of the book on the “war that made America”. We don’t know what we are becoming as a people. It may be that we are headed for a dark fascist future as women like Naomi Wolf tell us, along with a choir of assorted Chomskyites and diverse Chicken-Littles chanting in the wings.

The soothsayers sing-songs that are starting to sound like a dirge for the fall of Constantinople. But, on the other hand, we could be at a divide within the history of the Republic where our decisions actually lead to doom for our way of life.

If doom is our future it will likely be due to something more subtle than terrorist teams invading our public spaces with riacin, dirty bombs and horrible death. On the other hand, such attacks have the potential to further divide and confuse a public that is struggling with what it means to be an American.

Everyone agrees that there is something wrong with the way the news is reported and many of us feel manipulated by a corporate media complex that is driven by elitism. The elitist combinations are much harder to identify than King George’s moneyed interests that funded his war in Europe and the New World. Some people think the UN is the source of the subversive undertow beneath the U.S. governing powers. Or George Soros and currency speculation combined with covert political operations?

Others on the left and right point to the New World Order’s tax exempt foundations as engines driving social change and the influence of invisible government operating covertly in the financial, academic, media and intelligence worlds. A man like Ron Paul calls for abolishing the Federal Reserve, CIA and FBI (according to the news reports I have heard) and there was and (still seekms to be) an apparent groundswell of popular support. If there is reason for hope, what is the greatest evidence that hope exists?

As for me, all I can give is my one opinion that we seem to have a majority of strict-Constitutionalists on the U.S. Supreme Court at a time in history when the Second Amendment is finally coming before the Court. If it is as bad as the left and the right say, then our hope is first of all in God (that is always the case) and, second of all, in the Second Amendment and that thin red line of original intent. You will not get very far with your First Amendment or any other rights without your guns- if the Fascists are really at the door.

Here’s a footnote with some great links from Martin Morehouse: The French Royal forces would have used some variation on the 1717 or 1728 French infantry muskets. The French supplied a cheaper version, known as a ‘trade gun’, to their Indian allies. The British troops would have used the Long Land Pattern (1st model) Brown Bess from 1742, or in the later stages of the war, may have used the 1756 Brown Bess. Militia would have used what they could get.

In 1755, the Governor of North Carolina imported 1000 Dutch muskets and associated equipment for the use of the militia, since, “There is not half the Militia armed”.

Thank you to Martin Morehouse