About Steve Berg

Steve is a former United States Marine, serial entrepreneur and businessman with over twenty years of business start-up and management experience. He is the founder of Patriot Surplus and continues to oversee eCommerce operations for the business following an acquisition by US Patriot Tactical out of Columbia, South Carolina. Follow Steve as he shares his conservative views on fiscal issues, military news and our constitutional rights.

The Call to Serve

The Call to ServeThe Call to Serve

The urge to enlist and the call to serve in the military is hard for many people to understand. In a world that has become so centered on the needs of the individual instead of the needs of the many, it can be hard for those who have never served to understand. It can be even harder on those who served themselves when a child seeks to serve during a time of war. Families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice deserve our utmost support.

The following is an incredibly moving short film. Get your tissues.

The Ragged Old Flag of The United States of America

ragged old flag

The Ragged Old Flag

This morning, like many early mornings, I sat at my computer flipping through Facebook with a cup of coffee. This typically takes very little time because most of the drivel that emanates from my Facebook feed is virtually worthless. No, I do not care that you got a bikini wax or that you “Like” some post from a Facebook friend you probably wouldn’t be able to have a conversation with in real life.

However, today was different. A buddy of mine shared a video on his wall that caught my attention. It was entitled The Ragged Old Flag. We are friends on Facebook and in real life. He is a true warrior. My friend is a long time US Army Special Forces operator, a Green Beret. He has been on multiple deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and a few other places he cannot really talk about. He did this well into his late forties until his body finally gave out on him. To me, he is not only a warrior and a hero, he is the embodiment of the American spirit. My friend joined the Army late in life. In his late twenties, he enlisted in the US Army and later volunteered for, was accepted into and earned his place among the elite US Army Green Berets.

The United States Army Special Forces are known as the Green Berets because of their distinctive service headgear. They are a special operations force with five primary missions. They conduct unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, and counter-terrorism missions. My buddy has pretty much done it all. And he doesn’t talk about it at bars bragging of his bravado. He is a silent warrior. Like all true warriors, he doesn’t want or need the recognition.

My friend posted a video that I have embedded at the bottom of this article. It is an old gritty Johnny Cash video where Cash relates the story of the American Flag in a small rural town that has become ragged and worn. It is a story as much about our flag as much as it is about my friend and all service members after years of service and dedication to the homeland that I love. It reminded me of how sickened I am by all of the politicians in our country who have hijacked my homeland and perverted politics to cater to their special interest cause of the day. Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, I am talking to all of you. You make my stomach turn. You’ve stolen the America I grew up in and turned it into a freak show of politics.

Forget the Republican and Democratic parties. Forget the Tea Party. Whatever happened to the American Party? When I was growing up there were people of opposing views just like today. Some of my friend’s parents were democrats. My own parents were and still are democrats. Some of my friend’s parents were republicans. However, you know what? I would never have known that. Heck, I did not even know what I believed in politically until I was in my late twenties. To me, all of my friends were just Americans. I had Black, white, Asian and Hispanic friends growing up. Their skin color never mattered to me. It was who they were on the inside that mattered. To this day, I couldn’t care less what color your skin is. It is the color of your integrity that matters to me.

The media have become that proverbial middle child many families have that gets drunk at the holidays and proceeds to gossip about and criticize everyone under the sun just because deep down inside, they are not at peace with themselves. Sure, it garners good ratings to spread gossip and denigrate those who have opposing views, but it does no good for anyone. For all that attention you are getting at that moment; know that when you aren’t looking, we think your actions are idiotic. We are Americans and we need to start acting like it. We need to stop pushing each other down trying to force the agenda of the day in which we happen to believe. We need to start acting like the Americans who fought and died for the Ragged Old Flag. We need to come together as one and be Americans again. We cannot lift each other up if we keep pushing each other down.

To the politicians of all political parties, I have this to say to you. Fuck you. We are your constituents. If government were a business, we would be your customers. I know it is hard for you to understand at times. But you need to start acting like you give a damn about your customers. Stop telling us one thing to get elected and then doing the exact opposite once you are in office. In my world, we call that lying. In the business world, we call that bait and switch. You’ve cheated the American people and I for one am sick and tired of it. Don’t tell me you are going to fundamentally change the country for the better when you are trying to tear down the Ragged Old Flag and raise one for a country I don’t fundamentally recognize anymore.

Like Johnny Cash states in the video, I thank God for all the freedoms we have in this country. When I enlisted in the Marine Corps I knew that I was willing to lay my life on the line in defense of my homeland and fellow countrymen. I still would today, even for someone’s right to be stupid in America. Because, if we lived in Iraq or Afghanistan or any other oppressed nation, stupidity is not tolerated, it is murdered. Just like the homosexuals, Christians and people merely fighting for freedom that are being martyred, crucified and beheaded by ISIS (or ISIL or whatever flavor of radical perverted Islam they are claiming today.)

Freedom is not free. It never has been. It was won by the bloodshed of our ancestors as they fought the Revolutionary War. It was won as the ocean waters of Normandy ran red with the blood of my countrymen. It was won in Korea and Vietnam. Freedom was fought for in Iraq and Afghanistan. History will judge whether our causes were just, but I believe all of these wars were fought in the name of Freedom. I will always feel our cause was just.

It is time to wake up America. It is time for the American party to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and lead America back to her greatness. Like the Ragged Old Flag, Americans have been “abused, burned, dishonored, denied an’ refused” by the very government for which she stands. Americans are being scandalized throughout the world. We have liberated oppressed people and asked for nothing more than a plot to bury our dead soldiers. We may be thread bare and wearing thin, but I still believe in America. As Americans, we can survive Presidents with whom we disagree. We can survive corrupt politicians of all parties. We’ve been through fire before and we shall prevail because we are one nation under God. We are Americans and I am still mighty proud of that Ragged Old Flag.

We Have a Problem with Homegrown Radical Islam

 We Have a Problem with Homegrown Radical Islam

Homegrown Radical Islam

This is hard to stomach fellow citizens. Homegrown radical Islam has reared it’s ugly head in Colorado. I struggle to understand why in the world a natural born US citizen would want to join ISIS, a barbaric terrorist group consisting of radical Islamists who hate America. Their stated mission is to kill us all. A 19-year-old Colorado teenager, Shannon Conley, plead guilty Wednesday to trying to help the militant Islamic State. The plea deal in the terrorism case requires her to give authorities information about other Americans with the same intentions.

Shannon Conley was wearing a black and brown headscarf over her striped jail jumpsuit as she entered the plea in federal court to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine is what she faces when she is sentenced in January. But don’t worry fellow Patriots, the prosecutor has already stated they will seek a reduced sentence for her as long as she cooperates with authorities. Is it just me or shouldn’t a citizen who willfully sought to join a terrorist organization hell bent on killing us be given no reduction in their sentence? This is homegrown radical Islam folks.

Conley’s public defender, Robert Pepin stated after her hearing that she has been horrified by the atrocities committed by the Islamic State group since her arrest and offered her condolences to those who have been caught up in its slaughter and oppression. Really? I’m sure James Foley and Steven Sotloff’s families are supremely grateful for her regrets. Court documents showed that she wanted to aid ISIS swith her skills as a nurses aid and the skills she learned during her time in the US Army Explorer program.

The following news report is an interesting peek into the lamestream mainstream media coverage. My question to the news station is why they had to so opportunistically and repeatedly show this homegrown terrorist in her US Army Explorer battle dress uniform with her traditional Islamic headwrap. They show the same images over and over throughout the report. Why do you think they did that? Here is the video.

Tell us what you think fellow patriots.

Military Homecomings

Military Homecomings

Have you ever been at an airport and seen the many military service men and women waiting for flights? I always wonder if they are leaving or coming home. At times, we tend to take for granted all the service men and women serving our country at home and abroad. These brave men and women bravely leave their families behind as they deploy and do their jobs. They spends months in less than ideal conditions. Many stare into the face of the enemy on a daily basis. When they return home, some of the best military homecomings occur.

Over the last decade, these heroes have endured deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have been separated from their families for extended periods of time. They have done their job and deserve the best when they come home. These homecomings have been caught on video time after time. We’ve found one of the best videos of these military homecomings.

Get the tissues out, this video is an awesome compilation of military homecomings.

Military Homecomings Video

Didn’t get enough tears out from our video pick? Welcome Home Blog is a whole website devoted to military homecomings. Check them out for some happy tear moments!

Social Media on the Modern Day Battlefield

How Social Media on the Modern Day Battlefield Has Affected the Military

social media on the modern day battlefieldWith continually developing technology, the ways in which members of the military connect with friends, family and the civilian world are changing. We need to take a hard look at social media on the modern day battlefield. Think back to the days of World War I, where the only means for soldiers to keep in touch with their families was by writing letters. Since the Internet and social media were invented, nowadays communication is a whole lot quicker and easier.

Social media was at the epicenter of the military operation to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. A coffee shop owner in Abbottobad Pakistan unknowingly tweeted commentary about the sound of the helicopters carrying Seal Team Six operators as they were en route to the Bin Laden compound. Sohaib Athar quite literally broke the first news about the Bin Laden operation when he tweeted “”Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)”

The Use of Social Media by Terrorists

Just this week, we have seen the barbaric acts of ISIS in Iraq and Syria being splashed across social media by ISIS itself. In fact, the Department of Defense believes that a US born America is behind the social media blitz. Ahmad Abousamra, a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston with a degree related to computer technology, is suspected of being the social media manager of ISIS. He is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. The terrorists are literally embracing social media on the modern day battlefield as a terrorist tool.

In the 1980s email was introduced to workplaces, and the whole world’s communication changed forever. In those days, information was sent out via email, and it spread only as quickly as people checked their emails (not counting the time it took for dial-up Internet to connect, as well!). Now, with just one click, an enormous amount of potentially crucial information can reach millions of people within seconds.

Social Media on the Modern Day Battlefield Risks Operational Security

This has had a tremendous impact on the way the military operates. Social media is not something which can be ignored; the majority of serving members of the military have grown up with social media. It has to be accepted and embraced as it has become such a big part of everyday life. The Department of Defense did exactly that in 2010, making social media accessible to service men and women on work computers.

The cause for concern comes in where there is such a fine line between what information is official, and what is not. Twenty or thirty years ago, an official statement was made, and that was taken as fact. Fast forward to now, and anyone can post information, thoughts, opinions, viewpoints, experiences, pictures and hearsay, which some people may mistakenly take to be an official statement. This can be damaging, and even dangerous.

As it has become so much easier for information to enter the public domain, soldiers have also been placed at a much higher risk than they were in the 1980s and 1990s. It was much easier to keep details of their locations and operations secret before the days of social media. Information was kept on a need-to-know basis. These days, with the uploading of a single picture or a simple message posted about homecomings, details are put out there which can potentially put soldiers’ lives at risk, if it gets into the wrong hands.

Once information has been sent into cyberspace, there is no way to get it back, and even if it is deleted, there’s no way of knowing just who might have seen it or what website archived it. All you need to do is check out twitchy.com to see some of the best archived tweets around. This is one of the major downsides to social media and the military, as it’s so hard to tackle. There are guidelines for service personnel and their families on how to conduct themselves online, but this is certainly something which soldiers of years gone by never even had to think about. Always remember operational security when posting to social media sites.

Whether we like it or not, social media has affected all of our lives. It is something which the military has had to tackle head on, and it definitely has its advantages. On one hand, the ability to release information quickly and easily is a useful tool for the Department of Defense. On the other hand, there are always risks surrounding what information is released and when. Keeping in touch with friends and family is always a plus point, but communicating with potentially dangerous individuals is risky. It seems as though social media has both advantages and disadvantages for the military. It is, however, something that they don’t really have a choice about. Social media is growing exponentially these days, or so it seems. When you consider how far technology has brought us over the last thirty years, where will the next thirty take us? Post your comments below!

Home Canning Vegetables for the Self Sustained Family

Home Canning Vegetables

As a child, my parents had a huge garden. We were not poor but were far from rich. My mother canned everything. Heck, one year we had so many tomatoes, she made homeade ketchup for my one brother who ate everything with ketchup on it. She grew up on a farm during the 40’s and 50’s. I suppose it was in her genes. We spent numerous hours during the summer as “endentured servants” weeding and picking vegetables. I swore when I was an adult I would never have a garden or can anything. As an adult, I have come to realize that my parents actually had a lot of sense. Also, they saved a lot of “cents” with the garden and mom’s canning.

Growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs can be a rewarding experience. It is a lot of work yet fun. The sense of satisfaction you get when you see something that you have planted and nurtured grow into something delicious is incredible! Gardening is a wonderful way of gaining quality family time by getting kids to interact with gardening. Although, I will admit total failure in that department! In order to turn this hobby into something more serious, such as to become a self-sustained family it is a good idea to start canning your vegetables. This will make them last as long as possible as well as add a variety to your diet.

Despite the name ‘canning’, food is usually preserved and stored in glass mason jars. These jars are available from a wide variety of retailers. By using the canning method, your food has a shelf-life of about one year, which is hundreds of times longer than fresh food. An additional benefit to canning is you will know exactly what you are putting into the food you serve your family. Not only are home canned vegetables healthier they can also be tastier than store-bought canned food.

The process is actually rather simple. There are two types of canning methods, water bath canning and pressure canning. I’ll cover pressure canning later in the article. For water bath canning, all you need is a large pot filled with boiling water. Most big box stores sell the familiar grey speckled canning pots. You need to make sure you have thoroughly washed and sterilized your jars, lids and rings. This can be done by washing in the jars hot soapy water and rinsing thoroughly with hot water or you can simply run them through the dishwasher. For the lids and rings, simply put them in a pot of boiling water with the heat turned off. Do not boil them, simply submerge them in the boiling water until you need them. If you are using a hot pack recipe where you will be filling the jars with something like boiled tomatoe sauce, you need to fill jars with hot water until ready to fill.

Prepare your recipe and fill jars, leaving at least an inch of head space. Once the jars have been filled, carefully wipe off the mouth of the jar with a sterile cloth and secure the lid with the metal band. The jars are then put in the water bath canner and completely covered with hot water. Bring to a boil and process for the period of time designated in your recipe. The type of food being preserved and the size of the jars you are using will determine process times. The time can vary between anything from a few minutes to over an hour. Sealing the jars in this way not only kills bacteria, it also removes extra air from the jar. This allows the food to last longer and ensure it is less likely to spoil.

The most important thing to be aware of when home canning is the use of proper sanitation. When you are home canning, there is a possibility of botulism if items are not properly processed. You have to use the proper canning method for yoour food items as well. Botulism is a form of food poisoning that can cause serious illness, paralysis and even death. While it is a rare occurrence in high acid foods, it can occur in low acid foods if the proper method is not used. The bacteria that causes botulism cannot be killed by using water bath canner, so low acid foods need to be processed in a pressure canner. Using a pressure canner is the only way to be certain the bacteria are killed, as the temperature reaches far higher points than the water bath method canning water does due to the pressure. This is essential, as botulism is usually undetectable. You should not eat any canned items that appear cloudy or have a slightly sour smell or taste.

Take care to avoid endangering yourself, your family and others, by using a pressure canner for all low acid foods. Remember however, this only applies to foods that are not very acidic. High-acid foods such as tomatoes are acidic enough to kill the bacteria, whereas foods like beans, corn, meat, fish and poultry are not. It is not necessary to use a pressure canner for high acid foods. Most high acid recipes will include the processing time for it. Low acid recipes will always include a time and pressure at which to process the jars.

The internet is filled with countless recipes, tips and suggestions on how to prepare your canned food items. However, the best way for you to master it all is just to jump right in and try things out! As long as you are careful and follow the basic guidelines, then you are well on your way to becoming a home canning aficionado!

How to Corn Your Own Beef

Home Cured Corned Beef

How to Corn Your Own Beef

Many people think of corned beef as traditional St. Patrick’s Day fare, which originated in Ireland. Whether or not you have Irish heritage, it is still fun to get involved with the celebrations! Next time, instead of going to the store and buying pre-packaged corned beef, why not take a stab at making your own? It is not as difficult as you might think. In fact, the hardest part is leaving it alone for a few days to process! If you like the idea of having homemade corned beef which is tastier than the store-bought stuff, then give this a try.

When selecting the meat to be corned, it is important to purchase a good quality cut. The best choice is a flat-cut brisket, but make sure that the beef has been carefully reared. Organic, grass-fed beef will give you the best flavor, more vitamins, and it is healthier than other beef. In addition, for some people it is comforting to know that the meat that you’re eating enjoyed a good life!

Once you have your brisket it is time to select the rest of the needed ingredients. You may find that many recipes tell you to use sodium nitrate to cure the meat, however, recent concerns over whether nitrates are damaging to our health may change your mind. Various organizations, including the American Cancer Society and National Academy of Sciences, have declared that there is no risk of sodium nitrates causing cancer if you are using it in cooking. Therefore, it is ultimately your decision whether to use it or not. Why use sodium nitrates? The main reason for using sodium nitrates when making corned beef is to keep the meat looking pink. If you do not mind your beef turning a little grey-brown, then you can leave it out as it is not an essential ingredient, it just makes the meat look like you are accustomed to seeing it appear. Only you can weigh up the risks with the benefits!

The name ‘corned’ beef actually comes from the type of salt which is used in processing. Essentially, corning beef is just soaking the meat in brine, and the best type of salt to use has large crystals, called ‘corns.’ Whatever you do, do not use ordinary table salt, as the grains are too small. You would end up using more salt than the recipe calls for, and the dish would end up being far too salty. Generally, coarse ground Kosher salt is recommended, due to its large grains.

Spices for Home Curing of Corned BeefIn cold water, you should combine the Kosher salt with a little sugar and some pickling spices (if you’re feeling really adventurous, you could even try making your own pickling spices, as well!). The general rule of thumb is that the brine should be made up of ten parts water, two parts Kosher salt, one part sugar and half part of pickling spices. Basically, ten cups water, two cups Kosher salt, one cup sugar and a half a cup of pickling spices, but feel free to adjust the amounts slightly to suit your tastes. Mix the mixture until the sugar and salt have dissolved.

Corned beef is delicious if the flavor runs throughout the whole piece of meat, and there are several ways in which you can achieve this. The most technical method is to use a marinade injector to inject the mixture deep into the brisket’s tissue. If that sounds too complicated, then it can work just as well if you pierce the meat all over using a small-bladed knife. The brine will be able to soak into the meat through the pierced holes.

Once the brine is made, and the meat has been prepped you may add the pierced brisket of beef to the brine. Use something heavy to weigh it down so that the meat stays submerged. Then it is simply a case of covering it and leaving it in the refrigerator for a number of days.

This is not the sort of dish which you can prep the day before you want to eat it. Different recipes will tell you to leave the brisket in the refrigerator for anywhere from four to eight days. In reality, the longer you can get away with leaving it in the refrigerator, the tastier the flavor will be. If you can prepare it around a week in advance, that would be ideal. Just remember to take it out of the refrigerator after about four days and flip it to ensure that the entire brisket is marinating evenly in the brine.

When the beef is ready, remove it and rinse it under cold running water. You are then ready to cook it however you please, although boiling in water is the traditional option. If you have cured your beef well, with a selection of tasty pickling spices, then you can probably get away with slowly cooking it in plain, simmering water for a few hours. That said, you can choose to add other ingredients such as garlic, allspice or additional pickling spices to the water and the brisket before boiling.

After around three hours of cooking, remove the beef from the pan and allow it to cool. Then all you have to do is slice it and enjoy a little taste of St. Patty’s Day, made from scratch! Another twist is to smoke the brisket in a smoker after coating it with cracked pepper. You’ll end up with some of the tastiest homemade pastrami you’ve ever tasted.

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.

Retirement Planning for the Mid Forties Couple

Retirement Planning for the Mid Forties Couple

For people in their mid forties, financial planning can present a daunting challenge. They are often in a position which they have never found themselves before. Most people who have had children are seeing that their kids will soon be leaving the nest. In theory, this should leave them feeling slightly better off from a financial perspective. However, with only around 20 more years of work left, it can be a challenge knowing how much to save for retirement versus how much to spend enjoying yourself.

With all the recent global economic crises, millions of people are finding money a struggle, and with people living longer than previous generations, working well into old age is a serious possibility for many. Despite this, with careful planning and preparation – well in advance – retirement can be a comfortable, enjoyable experience.

The good news is that by getting started so early, you’re more likely to be able to secure yourself financially than if you wait until the last minute. It’s important to work out how much retirement is going to cost you. Would you like to spend more time traveling? Do you plan to move in with a family member? How much do you need to budget for your food bills so you have lower food bills? Would you like to be self-sufficient, relying on as few people as possible? These are questions which only you can answer. It is essential that you sit down now to work out a plan. If you don’t have an idea of what you will do during retirement, then you won’t be able to plan to achieve your goal properly. It might feel like these are big decisions to make so far in advance – and of course people’s circumstances and wishes do change over time – but if you start out with a general idea then you’re already halfway there.

Once you’ve figured out how much you’re going to have to pay out, turn your attention to how much money you will have coming in. Whether you have a private 401K or a pension plan from you employer, you are able to gauge to a certain extent how much income you will have. Will it be enough to cover your projected costs? If you find that there are shortcomings, meaning your liabilities will be higher than your income, then it is time to focus on putting money into a retirement plan. Now is the time as your income is most likely at its highest. Now is the time to sort out your retirement savings.

Obviously, regular expenses are going to be a weight on your wallet, so try and reduce it as much as possible before you retire. Make a concerted effort to pay off any debts and your mortgage – you may have to make some sacrifices while you tighten your belt now, but it will be better for you in the long run. Your goal should be to not have any financial obligations once you are no longer working.

Start setting aside money to save regularly. Bills have to be paid every month obviously. You have to decide on how much money you can afford to put aside and put it into your savings after expenses have been covered. The idea is to save first and to spend second. You must discipline yourself to stick to your savings plan. You can occasionally treat yourself out to a nice dinner, a new outfit or a night out with your spouse and still stick to your plan. It just takes self discipline and a focus on your end goal, retirement.

Furthermore, make sure that your savings are working as well as they can for you. If they sit in an account with a low interest rate, then you’re not making the most of your money. Seek out the advice of an investment counselor if you don’t wish to manage things yourself. Do yourself a favor however, take the time to educate yourself enough to understand the basics of investing. How often does your account compound interest? What fees will a financial planner charge you? Are you tracking these fees and reading your statements? Never fly blind when it comes to retirement planning. All too often, we place our money in banks, and leave it there for years on end. The rates are always changing and new options are becoming available. It is crucial that you keep on top of these things. Investigate all the different investment options which are available to you, and which one will be most suitable for you and your money. Do not be afraid to ask questions of your bank or financial planner. By staying on top of things, your money will continue to grow and do all the work for you!

Ultimately, this is the time to be sensible with your money. Take it seriously. You are investing in your future. Having financial worries hanging over your head as you grow older can be a real burden. In addition, whatever steps you take now will also benefit future generations, and whoever you decide to leave your money to. There is enough time now to plan a comfortable, enjoyable retirement!

Oops, I Just Tweeted That Osama Bin Laden is Dead!

How Social Media Has Affected the Modern Day Battlefield

With continually developing technology, the ways in which members of the military connect with friends, family and the civilian world are changing. Think back to the days of World War I, where the only means for soldiers to keep in touch with their families was by writing letters. Since the Internet and social media were invented, nowadays communication is a whole lot quicker and easier.

Social Media and Osama Bin Laden

Social media was at the epicenter of the military operation to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. A coffee shop owner in Abbottobad Pakistan unknowingly tweeted commentary about the sound of the helicopters carrying Seal Team Six operators as they were en route to the Bin Laden compound. Sohaib Athar quite literally broke the first news about the Bin Laden operation when he tweeted “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)”

The tech savvy Sohaib Athar unwittingly tweeted the Bin Laden Raid! Athar later admitted he didn’t like the moment of fame brought brought about by his tweeting. He later confessed, “I am JUST a tweeter, awake at the time of the crash. Not many twitter users in Abbottabad, these guys are more into facebook. That’s all.”

Email and the Military

In the 1980’s email was introduced to workplaces, and the whole world’s communication changed forever. In those days, information was sent out via email, and it spread only as quickly as people checked their emails (not counting the time it took for dial-up Internet to connect, as well!). Now, with just one click on your cell phone, an enormous amount of potentially crucial information can reach millions of people within seconds.

This has had a tremendous impact on the way the military operates. Social media is not something which can be ignored; the majority of serving members of the military have grown up with social media. It has to be accepted and embraced as it has become such a big part of everyday life. The Department of Defense did exactly that in 2010, making social media accessible to service men and women on work computers.

Dissemination of Official Military Information

The cause for concern comes in where there is such a fine line between what information is official, and what is not. Twenty or thirty years ago, an official statement was made, and that was taken as fact. Fast forward to now, and anyone can post information, thoughts, opinions, viewpoints, experiences, pictures and hearsay, which some people may mistakenly take to be an official statement. This can be damaging, and even dangerous.

Operations Security – OPSEC

As it has become so much easier for information to enter the public domain, soldiers have also been placed at a much higher risk than they were in the 1980s and 1990s. It was much easier to keep details of their locations and operations secret before the days of social media. Information was kept on a need-to-know basis. These days, with the uploading of a single picture or a simple message posted about homecomings, details are put out there which can potentially put soldiers’ lives at risk, if it gets into the wrong hands. Once it has been sent into cyberspace, there is no way to get it back, and even if it is deleted, there’s no way of knowing just who might have seen it or what website archived it. This is one of the major downsides to social media and the military, as it’s so hard to tackle. There are guidelines for service personnel and their families on how to conduct themselves online, but this is certainly something which soldiers of years gone by never even had to think about. Always remember operational security when posting to social media sites.

Whether we like it or not, social media has affected all of our lives. It is something which the military has had to tackle head on, and it definitely has its advantages. On one hand, the ability to release information quickly and easily is a useful tool for the Department of Defense. On the other hand, there are always risks surrounding what information is released and when. Keeping in touch with friends and family is always a plus point, but communicating with potentially dangerous individuals is risky. It seems as though social media has both advantages and disadvantages for the military. It is, however, something that they don’t really have a choice about. Social media is growing exponentially these days, or so it seems. When you consider how far technology has brought us over the last thirty years, where will the next thirty take us?