As a coincidence, I'm working on a story for a European print magazine right now that has a military theme and bayonets are mentioned in one escape scene. Although this story will never see the light of day in digital book form, or even in the US, I want it to be accurate. I've been freelancing for small private publishers in Europe for years, mostly Germany and Russia, and they usually tell me what they want and I deliver it to them. In this case it was a military story, set in the present, with an escape theme.
And when I heard a comment about bayonets in the military during this week's Presidential debates, I figured I'd better go back and do a little research to see if bayonets are actually used in the present day military. I probably could have just used gun or rifle instead of bayonet. But the story is ready to go and I didn't want to revise the entire thing all over again. After fifty or so revisions, it starts to get tired. And the last thing I look forward to is revising a story in any capacity that I thought was ready to be submitted.
In any event, this is what I found with a simple wiki search:
A bayonet (from French baïonnette) is a knife, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear. In this regard, it is an ancillary close-quarter combat or last-resort weapon.
However, knife-shaped bayonets—when not fixed to a gun barrel—have long been utilized by soldiers in the field as general purpose cutting implements.
In the US this is how they are used:
The American M16 rifle used the M7 bayonet which is based on earlier designs such as the M4, M5, & M6 bayonets. All of which are direct descendants of the M3 Fighting Knife and have spear-point blade with a half sharpened secondary edge. The newer M9 bayonet has a clip-point blade with saw-teeth along the spine, and can be used as a multi-purpose knife and wire-cutter when combined with its scabbard. The current USMC OKC-3S bayonet bears a resemblance to the Marines' iconic Ka-Bar fighting knife with serrations near the handle.
To play it safe, I double checked with this link:
While the bayonet dates to the 17th century, it has evolved through technological innovations over the years. In 2003, the Marine Corps replaced its standard-issue bayonet with a longer, sharper model, the OKC-3S. The new model, designed by New York's Ontario Knife Co., was also more effective when brandished as a hand knife - not to mention more ergonomically correct. Perhaps more vitally, the blades were also better able to pierce body armor, a concern particular to modern warriors. More than 120,000 bayonets were commissioned to supply one to each Marine, at an estimated price of $36.35 each, or $4,362,000 total. In addition to potential use in hand-to-hand combat, bayonets are said to be useful for keeping prisoners under control and for "poking an enemy to see whether he is dead."
So they are still used and I didn't have to change a thing in the story. As a side note, the hardest part of getting information about bayonets was finding a web site/article that didn't have a snarky political slant. Almost every single piece I came across had a spin on bayonets, in one political direction or the other. And all I wanted to know was whether or not they are still being used. Evidently, they are. Not often. But they are still around.
Election Day Shift Same Sex Marriage
I've posted several times about how frustrated I've been about same sex marriage and equal rights not being mentioned in the mainstream or by any of the candidates running for President in this election. So frustrated I almost decided to stop posting or dealing with the issue altogether. And then I came across a fascinating article on CNN's web site that helped put things into perspective for me.
From her Baltimore kitchen, Rebecca Murphy is lobbying legislators, crafting signs and making phone calls as she wages a battle to allow gays and lesbians to marry in her state.
The married mother of two doesn't have a personal stake in the fight. Rather, Murphy represents the growing number of people nationwide who support gay rights regardless of their own sexual orientation.
I've been hearing things like this crop up almost daily in recent weeks. So this could be one reason why same sex marriage isn't being mentioned at all in this election. There's been a slow shift taking place for a long time, and more and more straight people are starting to support same sex marriage openly.
Of course there are still those who don't support same sex marriage, and they tend to be very vocal about it:
While support has grown, there are still many who oppose allowing gays to marry and are doing their part to strike the measure down. The Rev. Frank Reid and his wife, Marlaa, of Bethel AME Church in Baltimore run workshops for single African-Americans in an effort to encourage strong marriages and discourage sexual behaviors that can lead to HIV/AIDS.
"I do understand and accept that there are other patterns for families," Marlaa Reid says. "However, the basic prescription for marriage, I embrace it as a biblical prescription. A man and a woman."
I've seen and heard this before. We all have, and coming basically from the same source with the same type of "holy" biblical mind-set. So that's going to take a while to change, but for the most part I agree that people are starting to accept same sex marriage without even thinking twice about it, which can only move equality forward. Most people nowadays know at least a few openly gay people, or are related to at least a few. And those who think they aren't exposed to gay people should take a closer look at their neighbor, their cousin, or their employer.
It's a good article to read in full, and it gives a different perspective on how same sex marriage might become legal...and without the help of any President. From what I gather, people are starting to decide for themselves and there's evidence that proves there's been a shift in the way they've been thinking about same sex marriage everywhere.