Beards in the Military Historically: Fear the Beard

It’s no secret that members of the Armed Forces have to follow a strict set of guidelines about how they present themselves. This includes facial hair, although the rules have changed over time, and they differ around the world. The ability to grow a beard is often considered a sign of masculinity and strength, which are terms often associated with members of the military, but how does this fit in to the military way of life?

During the 18th and 19th Centuries, beards were commonplace in militaries around the world. Find any picture of an American Civil War General, and chances are he’s sporting some rather impressive whiskers. The existence of facial hair even went as far as having shaving above the top lip banned for British soldiers after the Crimean War, which effectively made mustaches compulsory.

It wasn’t until the First World War that beards in the military became much less common, and for good reason. With the advances in chemical warfare, facial hair presented a very real risk to lives, as it could have caused gaps in the seals on gas masks. It was at this point that beards were prohibited.

This ban still applies for many forces around the world. It was briefly abolished in 1970 for acting U.S. Navy personnel by Elmo Zumwalt, who was Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) at the time. According to Zumwalt, ‘we must learn to adapt to changing fashions. I will not countenance the rights or privileges of any officers who enlisted men being abrogated in any way because they choose to grow sideburns or neatly trimmed beards or moustaches or because preferences in neat clothing styles are at variance with the taste of their seniors’. As accommodating as this was, it seems a little liberal and at odds with the strict guidelines in place today which promote discipline, uniformity and camaraderie. Incidentally, the ban on Naval beards was reinstated fourteen years later by James D. Watkins, who had taken over the CNO position.

Despite beards not being permitted in many countries’ militaries, the rules have been relaxed in certain situations. Troops from many countries, including the United States, Britain and Denmark, have been allowed to grow facial hair while on operations in Afghanistan. This is a tactical move in order to grow relations between the Armies and the local Afghan people, where beards are seen as a sign of power and masculinity.

Furthermore, several groups within the U.S. military have been permitted to grow beards while on home soil, as well. This includes men who need to grow beards for medical or religious reasons, although it is not a blanket rule; each person needs to apply individually and it is reviewed on a case by case basis. If a man has a skin condition which is aggravated by shaving then he may be granted leniency, as would Sikhs, Muslims, Rabbis, and members of other religions who grow facial hair. In the case of Sikhs, they have also been permitted to leave their hair ‘unshorn’, as long as it is covered by turbans; other religions can request to wear other items of clothing in the same way, if it is for religious reasons.

These guidelines vary around the world. In some countries such as India and Spain, beards and moustaches are permitted, but in others (including the United States and England), members of the Armed Forces are required to be clean shaven. Within the military, the beard has had a colorful history, from the flamboyant sideburns and handlebar moustaches from centuries gone by, to the neatly trimmed beards which are only occasionally allowed today. There’s no question that being clean shaven makes our troops look smart and like a cohesive team, but it would be a shame to see originality in the form of facial hair disappear from military history altogether.

 

Let’s Stop Pretending that Gun Laws Will Stop Criminals from Getting Guns

Gun Laws Don't Stop Criminals from Getting Guns

Let’s Stop Pretending that Gun Laws Will Stop Criminals from Getting Guns

I don’t know about you, but if I hear one more person spouting off about how more gun laws will stop criminals from getting guns, I think my head will literally explode or my body will burst into flames spontaneously. Or what about that lame mainstream media mantra, that “good guys with guns don’t stop bad guys with guns.”  It is utterly ridiculous to think that a criminal will follow the law. Yes, I fully understand that there are grief-stricken parents out there who have had to endure the horrific loss of a child or a loved one because some lunatic gunned their loved one down. I get it. I feel terrible for them and cannot for one second imagine their pain. If I had to live with the reality of never seeing one of my children or loved ones ever again, it would cripple me emotionally.

That being said, let’s stop pretending.  Let’s take a moment and clear the fuzz from our brains after we start to move past the shock of these shootings. Let’s stop fantasizing that gun laws protect law abiding citizens. They don’t. They simply serve to oppress law-abiding gun owners and kowtow to bleeding heart politicians pandering for votes to keep themselves in office. My opinion is that the Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein types of the world could literally not care less about the people they are supposed to be serving. These left wing progressives care about one thing and one thing only. They want to stay in office. (That is not to say that right wing politicians don’t want the same. They do.) If promoting gun laws gets those votes, well then they are all over it. They don’t want to lose their cushy jobs and perks. They are corrupt, plain and simple. They have forgotten who they serve or simply don’t care to remember.

The Mainstream Media and Biased Gun Law Coverage

Mainstream Media or Lamestream Media?Forget about the “mainstream media.” You’ll never see a lead story about how a law abiding gun owner stopped another public massacre. There have been numerous documented crime scenes where a legally registered concealed carry holder has stopped a crazed shooter in their tracks. In fact, there is evidence that this has happened numerous times over the years. Cases in point are the following active shooter scenes where a civilian or off-duty police officer has engaged a shooter prior to the police showing up on the scene. Keep in mind, the average first responder time on scene is roughly three minutes or 180 seconds.  I’ll talk more about response times later in this article.

Oct. 1, 1997

Luke Woodham fatally stabbed and bludgeoned his mother and went on to kill two students and injure seven others at his high school. He was stopped in his tracks by Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, a U.S. Army Reserve commander. Myrick detained the suspect, Woodham by using a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol he kept in his truck until authorities could show up.

Myrick stopped Woodham from going across the street to the middle school and massacring young children at the school. (Lubbock Online, 10/12/97)

April 24, 1998

Andrew Wurst showed up to his middle school dance with a .25-caliber pistol. He fired it, killing a teacher, wounding a second one, and injuring two students. The 14-year-old’s shoot-out lasted about 20 minutes. Police were still not on the scene when the shooting was ended by James Strand, the owner of the banquet hall at which the dance was being held. He confronted Wurst with his personal shotgun, ordering Wurst to drop his weapon. The teenager complied, and he held Wurst in place for 11 minutes before finally getting him to drop the weapon and lie on the ground, and then searched him for other weapons. The police arrived about a half hour into the incident. That is thirty minutes or 1800 seconds. Try staring at the wall for 1800 seconds and see how long you can do it. (CNN, 4/25/98)

Dec. 9, 2007

A former law enforcement officer from Minnesota named Jeanne Assam was at church when a 24-year-old gunman began firing at parishioners in the parking lot. Matthew Murray had claimed two victims before Assam opened fire on him with her personally owned concealed weapon. After receiving multiple hits from Assam, Murray then shot himself. This happened at a church. My wife once asked me why I carry a gun to church. This is why. (LA Times, 12/11/2007)

May 27, 2010

Abraham Dickan, a 79-year-old man, decided to shoot up an AT&T store in New York Mills, New York. Dickan was in the store when off-duty police officer Donald J. Moore saw him brandishing a .357 magnum and a hit list of employees he planned to kill in his pocket. Moore heard Dickan’s gun go off, drew his own personal weapon, and killed Dickan on scene. There was no chance that waiting for the police to show up would have prevented a potential massacre. A legal concealed carry permit holder did the job. (WKTV News, 7/28/14)

Dec. 11, 2012

Clackamas County, Oregon, two people were killed, and a third was severely wounded when Jacob Roberts opened fire in a local shopping mall. A shopper in the mall, Nick Meli, drew his personally owned firearm on Roberts, who then retreated. Meli did not fire his weapon, for fear of striking bystanders, but he saved numerous lives by confronting the shooter.  (Oregon Live, 12/16/12)

January 06, 2014

An intruder armed with a shotgun forced his way inside the house of 63-year-old Elzie Pipkins in Shreveport, La.  Once he was inside the house, the intruder ordered Pipkins’ granddaughter to fill a bag with valuables. Pipkins pleaded the criminal to take the money in her purse and leave. The intruder wanted more. Pipkins led the intruder to a safe where she kept loose change and her handgun. When the criminal took his hand off his shotgun to take the loose change, Pipkins took the opportunity to retrieve the pistol from the safe and fire it at the robber. She struck the robber once in the chest. He took off but subsequently collapsed a block away.

Following the shooting, Pipkins made it very clear she did not relish shooting the criminal, stating to a local news outlet, “Just $55 in coins, and he lost his life, Lord Jesus I wish the young people today would just think, go to school, get an education and a good job and buy what you want.” (The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La. 01/06/14)

Good Guys with Guns Do Stop Bad Guys with Guns

Armed school guards stopped an Oregon school shooter in his tracks in June 2014. Most recently, an armed doctor stopped a crazed lunatic patient of his after the patient shot and killed his case worker.   The list of incidents could actually go on ad infinitum given the right amount of research and documentation. The point is, the mainstream media fails to report on the facts. Politicians pander to the liberal left to get votes. Guns in the hands of good guys do indeed stop bad guys with guns in their own footprints. Its fact and it is undisputable.

First and foremost, let me state that I think that the vast majority of law enforcement personnel are genuinely great people who care deeply for those they serve. Of course, there will always be a few bad apples, but for the most part, they are there to do their job to the best of their ability, given the resources at their disposal.

How do We Better Handle Active Shooter Scenarios?

As I see it, there are four possible ways to diminish the potential damage of an active shooter.

  1. You can make facilities more secure by adding things such as bullet proof glass, multiple door access, gated property access and property wide fences.
  2. Secondly, you can arm and train potential victims such as school teachers and administrators.
  3. Thirdly, you could step up awareness of shooting prevention programs and potential suspect identification.
  4. Lastly, you can improve law enforcement response times.

Each one of these approaches is far easier said than done. Take your pick of the numerous bureaucratic, political, and budgetary issues, and you’ll understand my skepticism.

Law Enforcement Response Times

Law Enforcement Response TimesLet’s talk a bit about police and emergency responder response times. There are studies all over the place that quote response times from three minutes all the way up to fifty-eight minutes. It really depends on who is doing the study, where they study took place, what results they want to present to the target audience of the study, etc. A statistics professor once told me in college that statistical results are simply the skewed findings of the people paying for the statistical analysis at hand. I tend to agree with him. And he was as liberal an educator as they come!

Let’s assume that the fastest response times are typical. We know they aren’t, but we’re going to give the police the benefit of the doubt.  Let’s use three minutes as the average response time in the United States. Now, I want you to go stare at a blank wall for three minutes. Go watch how much stuff a toddler can get into in three minutes. Put a stopper in your kitchen sink and turn the water on full blast for three minutes. You might not think 180 seconds is a long time, but think again. It is a long time.

Now, imagine a bad guy just grabbed your daughter at gunpoint while she ran to her car in the driveway to grab something she forgot. In a split second, her life flashes before your eyes. Yes, this really happened.  In June of 2014, St. Louis police say the 17-year-old girl was outside of her home getting something from the car when two armed men confronted her and demanded that she return to her home. The girl’s father saw what was happening from the house window, got his gun and fired several shots at the suspects, hitting both of them. The girl`s mother got another gun and fired a round as well, not hitting either suspect. Oh, and by the way, there was a five year old child in the house.

Do you think they would have survived this crime by a gun-wielding criminal had they waited 180 seconds for the police to arrive? The answer is a resounding no. They would have been injured at the least and dead at worst. The quick thinking and action of legally registered gun owners saved the lives of that family and likely saved the daughter from a lifetime of repulsive memories. Let’s quit pretending otherwise.

The Underlying Issues of Criminal Gun Behavior

Identifying and Treating the Mentally Ill in the United StatesIt is time to deal with the underlying issues that lead to criminal gun behavior. Specifically, we need to address the lack of mental health treatment for mentally ill individuals. This is by far, in my opinion, one of the main reasons for the increase in gun violence in America. Sure, there are the pundits who will claim it is violent video games. Or, they will claim that it is a lack of background checks and a multitude of other reasons. I tend to agree a bit on the violent video games myself, but still see the decline of availability of mental health treatment as the main offender with respect to gun crimes.

The government started to defund these programs as far back as the 70’s and 80’s. A budget cut here and a program funding slash there took little notice in society.  Forty years later, we have mentally ill people walking the streets at night and showing up in theaters wielding weapons dressed as the Joker from Batman. We have Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold gunning down their fellow students at Columbine High School. There is not a person on the planet that could convince me that these people were not mentally ill. I think they should be punished and locked away forever. Their crimes were despicable and they are despicable human beings. They were mentally ill, however. No sane person could do the horrific things these people have done.

Could these killings have been stopped? Absolutely. One legal concealed carry holder with courage could have stopped James Holmes from shooting up that theater in Colorado. Had there been more and better trained armed guards at Columbine, perhaps they could have ended that tragedy just like the armed guards at Arapahoe High School in Colorado who stopped student Karl Pierson. Pierson entered the school intent on murder. He ended up taking his own pathetic life once cornered by armed resource officers responding to the shots fired. Many school districts across the country have already armed their school resource officers. When I recently toured a new high school for my daughter in South Carolina, I took notice that there were two armed sheriff’s deputies on duty. I thanked them for doing their job and was quietly thankful that my daughter would be safe when she attends school there.

I shudder to think what will continue to happen if society keeps buying into the feel good premise that more stringent gun laws will prevent these types of crimes from happening in the future. Politicians who persist in pushing their stricter gun law agendas are simply uneducated or just don’t care what the facts are.

Solutions to Gun Crimes in America?

I propose we start with better access to mental health treatment. How about better information sharing between mental health professionals and law enforcement? Perhaps we could enact stricter punishment for the illegal use of a weapon during the commission of a crime? These are real answers to what will start to deter these crimes.  Punish the guilty, empower the law abiding, and help our mentally ill citizens find a way out of their darkness. Until then, gun control is simply a political football being tossed around for votes.

I have a final idea for you to consider. How about we vote these clowns politicians out of office and introduce Washington, DC. to sanity and the rule of law once again. Repeat after me, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Buying a New Car? Should you Buy Used or New? Lease or Purchase?

Buying a new car can be a bit of a minefield. There are so many different options that it’s difficult to know whether to go for something new or used or whether to lease or purchase. Here we’ll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each, so that you can make an informed decision!

Most of the differences between used and new cars are fairly obvious. New cars are far more expensive than those which are a few years old – this is due to something called depreciation, which we will touch upon later. However, car dealers often offer finance packages to help you spread the cost over time, which private sellers of used cars won’t do. Furthermore, used cars are much more likely to face problems in terms of reliability, as the parts will wear down over time. New cars are usually covered under the manufacturers’ warranties for problems like this, which isn’t the case with used cars – meaning that repairs and maintenance can be cripplingly expensive.

The trouble with cars is that they’re unlike houses, which usually rise in value over time. Cars, on the other hand, are constantly losing value, from the moment you drive them out the parking lot – even while they’re sitting unused in your driveway. This is the aforementioned depreciation, and it’s influenced by a number of factors including fuel consumption. If you choose a gas guzzler, its price will depreciate much more quickly than a car with good fuel consumption, especially if fuel prices rise.

With that in mind, is it best to lease a car or buy one?

Leasing has experienced a boom in popularity in recent years. It’s estimated that one in four cars in the United States are bought using this method. Essentially, it is a long-term rental system where you pay a deposit (usually around the equivalent of three months’ worth of payments), then pay a fixed price each month for a set period of time. This is usually two or three years. At the end of the contract, you hand the car back. It’s as easy as that!

Purchasing a car outright is obviously an arrangement where you pay a set amount each month for a fixed period of time, after which you own the car and can do with it as you please.

In these simple terms, it might sound like purchasing is the best option, however, the monthly payments are usually two or three times the amount that you would pay should you lease a car. With that said, you would pay more each month, but you have something to show for it at the end of the payment period- you have the car, which you can sell and earn some money back (taking into account the fact that its value has depreciated). With leasing, you might pay less each month, but at the end of the two or three years, when you hand back the keys you’re left with nothing.

Regarding the deposit, purchase agreements require a much larger deposit than leasing – it is between 20% and 50% of the car’s price. This can be hefty; the deposit alone can be more expensive than the entire price for a used car! The down payment for leasing a car is much more affordable, though. Typically, it is equivalent to the monthly payments made over three to six months. The fact that it’s cheaper is a benefit in itself, but it gets better. Most lease companies will offer you a choice on whether to put down a bigger deposit. Doing so is a good idea, as it will reduce the subsequent monthly payments for the rest of the contract.

When you lease a car, often there’s an option to add a small extra charge onto each monthly bill, which covers the cost of servicing. This is very helpful, rather than having to pay out one bigger lump sum once a year, as is the case with purchasing a car. However, the warranty from the manufacturer normally covers the period for which you’ll be paying for the car in both the case of purchase and lease, so there is no benefit to be gained in this case from one above the other.

As if all of this wasn’t good enough, one of the most appealing aspects of car leasing is that most of the time, it’s possible to get a car which would generally have been out of your price bracket to be affordable. This is made possible by the set monthly repayments and the fact that you don’t own the car at the end. In addition, every few years you’re able to drive a new model, rather than being stuck with an older model which is constantly depreciating in value and becoming outdated in terms of technology.

It’s clear that there are advantages and disadvantages to all the options, whether buying new or used, lease or purchase. With the lease and purchase options, buying a new car is becoming a lot more affordable nowadays than it used to be. Car leasing is a fantastic option – the only major drawback is that you pay thousands of dollars over a few years, and you’re left with nothing to show for it. This is one of the main reasons why you might want to choose purchase over lease instead. However, for many people, even these options are too far out of reach financially. Sometimes buying used is the only option, and there are still some great deals to be had. Sure, there are more risks, but if you search long and hard you might find a hidden gem. Whichever route you go down, choosing a new car is all about finding the best deal within your price range!