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Massad Ayoob on Guns

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.


Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Mas | 40 Comments »

Today, supposedly, a grand jury convenes in Missouri to examine the facts surrounding the death of Michael Brown at the hands of FPD officer Darren Wilson, to determine if an indictable crime has been committed.  One talking head on TV even said that hearsay would be permitted there, which if true is nothing less than a travesty.

The grand jury review itself, it would seem, is coming awfully early.  The general public does not realize how long it takes to complete a homicide investigation. The toxicology screen on the deceased, which can be a critical factor, may or may not have been completed yet, but to the best of my knowledge such results have not yet been released to the public.

Members of the grand jury will be under tremendous social and political pressure to indict.  The state’s own governor has, incredibly, called for “vigorous prosecution.”   Damn shame he didn’t have the integrity to call for “vigorous investigation” instead.  One should not be convicted before trial in the Governor’s Mansion instead of in a courtroom.

The smell of mob rule is growing stronger, and more fetid.

Also today, Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to be on the ground in Ferguson for investigative purposes.  Many pundits expect him to visit with the family of the deceased; certainly, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But I sincerely hope that the AG, our nation’s chief law enforcement officer, will visit the family of the injured officer as well.


Sunday, August 17th, 2014 by Mas | 50 Comments »

          The meme started out as sweet, tender 18-year-old Michael Brown about to enter college, murdered by police in front of many witnesses despite no discernible motive.  National uproar and civil disturbance ensues.

            The family of the deceased hires Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Trayvon Martin’s family who engaged a high powered, well connected PR firm to turn that shooting into a national cause celebre, which they did with enormous success.  By the time the truth came out, most of America seemed to still believe that the deceased was a harmless, innocent victim of racism murdered by a monster who deserved to be lynched. That meme seems to be getting a repeat in Missouri.

            Only days later, do we learn how savagely the officer was beaten by the physically huge man he shot.  And that very shortly before the incident, the innocent college boy had performed a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store, caught on surveillance video. (This, of course, would not do, so last night looters ravaged that particular convenience store.)  It has been reported that that Facebook images of Brown exist, flashing gang signs indicating membership in one of the nation’s most feared street gang, the Bloods.

            Countless people already invested in the police brutality meme cry that this late news must be a cover-up.  They do not realize the long-standing ethos of law enforcement that says, “We don’t try our cases in the press.”

            There is still much for us to learn about what happened in Ferguson, Missouri that day. Results of the autopsy and toxicology screen have not yet been released. Location of entry wounds and trajectory of the bullets through the body will tell us things, and it would be interesting to know what if anything was in Michael Brown’s system when he turned from the “gentle giant” his family described him as, into the hulking monster throwing the store clerk around in the surveillance film shortly before he was shot by police.  I suspect there are dashcam images or i-phone video that the public has not yet seen.

            One lesson that has clearly emerged so far: the longer the accused wait to put forth their side of the story, the more damage will be done to their cause.  An accusation unanswered is seen by the general public as a plea of nolo contendre. 

            And this morning, CNN reports that storeowners, feeling that police aren’t protecting them from looters, are standing outside their shops in Ferguson with “machine guns.”

            Another lesson of déjà vu, I suppose…


Monday, August 11th, 2014 by Mas | 6 Comments »

The shooting world has lost another stalwart.  A skilled shooting competitor back when he had time for it, John LeVick could have made a good living as a gunsmith if he had not devoted himself to the practice of law in Lubbock, Texas. LeVick He passed suddenly last week, altogether too soon at 59.  A mutual friend, gun collector Chuck MacDonald, eulogized John as a Renaissance man I think he nailed it.

His obituary is here.

I first took note of Brother LeVick with his posts on, where his screen name was 38/44HD45.  We found ourselves corresponding frequently on a private forum; John had significant experience in gun- and shooting-related cases.  I finally got to meet him last year at the Texas Bar Association’s annual Firearms Law Symposium.  As expected, he was as insightful in person as he was in print.

Like so many in the pro-gun movement, John LeVick was motivated by love of family, love of justice and fairness, and love of life.  True to form, he left instructions that when he passed, in lieu of flowers, contributions should be made to the Second Amendment Foundation

Vaya con Dios, John LeVick.  You are missed.


Friday, August 8th, 2014 by Mas | 35 Comments »

In legal theory, crimes are divided between malum prohibitum and malum in se.  Translated from Latin, malum in se means that the thing being described is evil in and of itself, and is probably so in every civilized society.  Malum prohibitum essentially says “It’s bad because we prohibited it.”

Case in point: you are a responsible young single mom, gainfully employed in the medical profession to support your two little kids.  Becoming the victim of a couple of crimes has caused you to arm yourself, go through training, and get a permit to carry a gun where you live, in Philadelphia.

After crossing a state line, you are pulled over in a routine traffic stop.  You do what you think is the responsible thing: you advise the police officer that you are licensed to carry a gun and do have it with you.

You are then placed under arrest, and find yourself facing a MANDATORY penalty of three years in prison and becoming a convicted felon for life, because the state you’re now in is New Jersey, and they do not reciprocate with Pennsylvania or any other state on concealed carry permits.

We gun folks know that the fifty states are a patchwork quilt with fifty different sets of laws. This young woman is not a gun person.  She apparently didn’t know that a state that would recognize her driver’s license wouldn’t recognize her carry license.  Read about it here: .

She’s not the first to make this honest mistake, and won’t be the last.  (And, before anyone questions that it was an honest mistake, why would someone who knew they were breaking the law spontaneously tell the first cop they encountered that they were doing so?)  This case is the very definition of malum prohibitum.

It’s also why I and so many others have been calling for national reciprocity for decades.


Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 by Mas | 48 Comments »

A friend and graduate from Chicago passes along this story: .

An as yet unidentified law-abiding citizen in his fifties (erroneously said to be 86 in early reports) fires two warning shots at a fleeing armed robber.  A police officer chasing the same robber breaks off the pursuit and takes cover, thinking he’s the one coming under fire.  The suspect is captured anyway, and no one’s blood is shed.

In the story linked above, a retired detective calls the armed citizen an idiot for doing what he did, pointing out that among other things the officer could have shot him.  But the investigating officers, and their department, and the prosecutor’s office take the armed citizen’s side and determine no charges will be brought.

And now comes a third side of the story, that the citizen saw the robber run out of the store, saw the officer come around the other side of the building, and believed the robber was about to ambush and murder the cop.  The citizen is said to have fired to break the ambush and save the officer.

Moral of the story: wait for all sides’ viewpoints to come in before forming an opinion on what happened.  And there may be more information yet to come regarding this particular incident.

Discussion invited.



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