On January 23rd, 1961, the United States almost nuked itself by accident. On that day, according to a recently unclassified document obtained by The Guardian, the US Air Force mistakenly dropped a pair of hydrogen bombs over Goldsboro, North Carolina…
If the bombs had gone off, the carnage would have reached into Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York city. “Yeah, it would have been bad news â€” in spades,” Parker F. Jones, then supervisor of nuclear weapons safety at the Sandia National Laboratories, writes in the formerly-secret document. “One simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe!”
Larry Alan Burns, a federal district judge in San Diego writes:
…if we can’t find a way to draw sensible lines with guns that balance individual rights and the public interest, we may as well call the American experiment in democracy a failure.
There is just no reason civilians need to own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Gun enthusiasts can still have their venison chili, shoot for sport and competition, and make a home invader flee for his life without pretending they are a part of the SEAL team that took out Osama bin Laden.
It speaks horribly of the public discourse in this country that talking about gun reform in the wake of a mass shooting is regarded as inappropriate or as politicizing the tragedy. But such a conversation is political only to those who are ideologically predisposed to see regulation of any kind as the creep of tyranny. And it is inappropriate only to those delusional enough to believe it would disrespect the victims of gun violence to do anything other than sit around and mourn their passing. Mourning is important, but so is decisive action.
Congress must reinstate and toughen the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
And I also encourage you to read Eugene Cho’s post that pointed me to Judge Burn’s article…
Recently, someone asked me what I would have conveyed to the parents and loved ones of those who had lost their children in these tragic shootings.
Well, there are things you just should not say. Rather not trying to over explain, over analyse, over theologize, over whatever, I think thereâ€™s a certain power in just being present in their pain. To mourn with those who mourn isnâ€™t to help them quickly escape their mourning with convenient theology but rather to join them in their mourning.
But at some point, Iâ€™d also like to convey:
â€œI canâ€™t bring back your child but I want to pray, work, and do whatever I can â€“ by Godâ€™s grace â€“ to ensure that something like this will never happen again.â€
If not now, then when? If not for our children, then for who?
Until the 1400s, guns were fired by holding a burning wick to a “touch hole” in the barrel igniting the powder inside. One hand held the gun, the other hand lit the wick. Often the gun was steadied on a prop of some sort.
In the 1400s, the matchlock gun appeared, which allowed the user to keep both hands on the gun at the moment of firing. I small fire was still needed, but it could be lit and held in place until the mechanical piece was moved via the trigger and thus lighting the gunpowder.
In 1509 the wheellock was invented, which generated sparks mechanically. However because of their cost, matchlock guns remained the common gun of choice for most.
The first settlers arrived in the U.S. at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607.
The flintlock mechanism was invented in France in the late 1600s, which created a spark in the flash-pan where the gunpowder was stored. The spark was created from a piece of flint striking the metal frizzen. Flintlock pistols and rifles became the gun of choice until the mid-1800s.
Despite their popularity, flintlock pistols were not very effective at long ranges. They were used primarily for self-defense or as a military arm. But with their widespread use, flintlock pistols became the weapon of choice for duels by the mid-1700s (replacing rapiers).
Our term “flash-in-the-pan” comes from the flintlock mechanism.
July 26, 1764, four Lenape American Indians entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania and shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and killed nine or ten children (reports vary).
July 4, 1776, the American colonies revolted from the British Empire. The American Revolution was fought with flintlock muzzle-loaded muskets and flintlock pistols carried by both British and American soldiers.
December 15, 1791, the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution is adopted which reads:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
On July 11, 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr fatally wounds former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel in New Jersey.
The percussion-detonating mechanism is patented in 1807. The mechanism and the percussion-cap enabled guns to be fired in all weather situations and allowed the creation of smaller handguns like the single-shot Derringer, which was used to later assassinate Abraham Lincoln.
Samuel Colt invents the Colt revolver in 1835. The gun was the first mass-produced, multi-shot, revolving firearm.
In 1840, guns begin to use pinfire ammunition. Compared to the flint or percussion mechanisms, the pinfire ammunition (or cartridge) was far more convenient in that they could contain percussion cap, powder and shot in a neat pre-loaded package. It was several times faster to fire and reload than previous technologies.
Shotguns began to become commonplace in the 1850s and were used primarily for hunting birds.
In 1860, the Christopher Spencer repeating carbine was patented. The lever-action rifle could fire 7 rounds in 15 seconds. Though the Civil War began at this time, the U.S. Army did not adopt the weapon immediately fearing that soldiers would fire more often, constantly need fresh ammunition, and overtax the supply system. It wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln test-fired the weapon in 1863 that mass production of the weapon began.
The Secret Service was created by President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865 in order to suppress counterfeit money in circulation. It was commissioned on July 5, 1865.
April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The legislation creating the Secret Service was lying on Lincoln’s desk the night he was assassinated.
In 1869, the centerfire cartridge is introduced. Similar to the pinfire mechanism, the centerfire ammunition contained everything in a neat pre-loaded package, but moved the pin from the side of the cartridge to the center rear of the cartridge.
In 1871, the first cartridge revolver was introduced. Two years later, in 1873 the Winchester rifle was introduced. The Winchester became known as the “the gun that won the West.”
In 1877, the first effective double-action revolver was introduced. The double-action revolver meant a cocking action separate from the trigger pull was unnecessary. Every trigger pull resulted in a complete cycle (the hammer is pulled back to the cocked position, the cylinder is cued to the next round and the hammer is released to strike the firing pin).
In 1879, James Paris Lee patented a box magazine, which held rounds stacked vertically.
July 2, 1881, President William Garfield was assassinated.
April 9, 1891, the first known mass shooting in the U.S., where students were shot by an American citizen occurred in Newburgh, New York. A man fired a shotgun at a group of students in the playground of St. Mary’s Parochial School, causing minor injuries to several of the students.
In 1892, the first semi-automatic handguns are introduced. The first semi-automatic pistol was created by Joseph Laumann in 1892. But the Borchardt pistol of 1893 was the first semi-automatic with a separate magazine in the grip, and this remains the defining feature of the breed.
September 6, 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated.
Congress requested the Secret Service to provide presidential protection in 1901 and in 1902, the Secret Service assumed full-time responsibility for presidential protection.
The Societ AK47 is introduced in 1947.
In 1962, the U.S. Air Force adopts the AR-15 automatic rifle. The rifle is later adopted by all U.S. Armed Forces and receives the designation as the M16. The AR-15 is currently the designation used by Colt for the commercial semi-automatic version of the weapon. The M16A4 adaptation remains in active service.
November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
On August 1, 1966, a shooter climbed atop the observation deck at the University of Texas in Austin and killed 16 people and wounded 31 during a 96-minute shooting rampage.
In 1985, the U.S. Armed forces adopt the Beretta 92, a semi-automatic handgun.
On April 20, 1999, two armed students walked into Columbine High School and killed 12 students and one teacher. Twenty-one other students were injured in the shooting spree.
April 16, 2007, a student at Virginia Tech kills 32 students and injures 17 others at the school. It remains the deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in U.S. history.
December 14, 2012, a young man walks into Sandy Hook Elementary School and gunned down 26 individuals, including 20 1st graders, aged six and seven.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. [â€¦] Is there no other way the world may live?
My college newspaper recently shared an opinion piece on Obama’s recent nuclear negotiations…
President Obama signed a nuclear arms control agreement with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday to reduce the stockpiles of nuclear weapons of both nations. The agreement, called the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, builds on a previous Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that expired in December. If passed, it will cut the number of both countries’ nuclear weapons by about a third.
With policies like the START agreement, the public health care bill and charging terrorists in American civilian courts, the Obama administration is weakening the United States’ power to influence other nations. We are stepping down from our destiny instead of rising to the potential of a world leader.