On Friday morning, President Trump took to Twitter to threaten North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, warning that:
Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.
The term "locked and loaded," has roots dating back to World War II, and originally referred to the operation of the M1 Garand Rifle, the standard U.S. Army rifle of the war. To load the rifle, soldiers had to lock the bolt to the rear and load a clip of ammunition into the receiver — hence, they locked and loaded.
Conversely, another explanation of the term is that it references the actions needed to prepare a flint lock rifle for firing. To safely load the rifle, the gunman had to position the weapon in a locked position so the gun powder and ball could be loaded into the barrel.
In the 1949 film The Sands of Iwo Jima, actor John Wayne brought notoriety to the phase with his famous command, "Lock and load!" The film centers on a squad of Marines, led by Wayne's character Sgt. Stryker, who take part in the invasions of Tarawa and Iwo Jima during World War II.
More recently, the phrase was used in the 1998 war drama Saving Private Ryan, starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon. The film, which won five Academy Awards, including best director for Steven Spielberg, was set during the invasion of Normandy during WWII. "Mellish and Henderson, lock and load!" Hank's character, Capt. Miller, shouts during the film.
While the phrase "lock and load" has many origin stories, one thing's for certain: They all allude to war. And, it complements the increasingly war-like rhetoric Trump has been using this past week regarding military action against North Korea. His tweet came days after reports surfaced that the hermit kingdom may have developed a miniaturized warhead, with Trump threatening the country with "fire and fury." In response, North Korea threatened to create an "enveloping fire" around Guam, the U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean.
In addition to Friday morning's tweet, Trump also shared a post from the United States Pacific Command, stating:
#USAF B-1B Lancer #bombers on Guam stand ready to fulfill USFK's #FightTonight mission if called upon to do so.
While Trump's "locked and loaded" threats are problematic — especially since the phrase goes back to the last major world war — for now, it's simply rhetoric, with the likelihood of actual conflict unlikely.
"Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!" Trump wrote in Friday morning's tweet. For the sake of all of us, and amidst the war on words between Trump and the North Korean leader, let's hope so.