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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.


Friday, November 27th, 2015 by Mas | 3 Comments »

Unless life has REALLY sucked for you lately, you probably have things to give thanks for this year. I certainly do, and so does my significant other, the Evil Princess.

Please stay alert, for things like over-partied drunk drivers who partook too much of holiday cheer, as we cops have advised the citizens we’re sworn to protect since long before I pinned on a badge for the first time.

In my last entry here (see it below this one), I said “Defy the terrorists and have a great Thanksgiving.”

One of our regular blog commentators said, “I’m going to defy the terrorists by not allowing concern about them to change anything I am going to do tomorrow. I’m going to have Thanksgiving dinner, unarmed, with my family and friends at a major hotel in a major American city and I have no fear that any harm will befall us, except to our waistlines, our cholesterol levels, and my wallet.”

He and I are more in tune with each other’s way of thinking than he may realize. The EP and I aren’t going to change much, either.  Wherever we go, we’re both normally armed.  If we are someplace where I’m “legal to carry” and she’s not – as we were on Thanksgiving Day – she knows that the backup gun I normally carry will be readily available to her in the sort of exigent circumstance that triggers the ancient Common Law principle known as the Doctrine of Competing Harms, which will make it legal for her to wield it in defense of herself or others. The only change in that plan at the moment is that it is a second 9mm Glock instead of the usual five-shot backup .38 that lives in one of my pockets.

The next time reliable weather forecasters predict a hurricane or a monster blizzard, perhaps I shouldn’t bother to make sure the generator is working and the food and water supplies are up to date. I guess that would mean the terrorists weather won.

Umm…no. It doesn’t hurt anything, nor violate my normal routine of enjoying life immensely, to take common sense precautions when danger threatens. The reliable terrorism forecasters have given us a warning. I hope that nothing comes of it…but if anything does, we’ll be more ready than the commentator.  I won’t accuse myself of paranoia if nothing happens this weekend, any more than I’ve ever done so when I took precautions after reliable weather forecasters warned of an impending hurricane or blizzard and the hurricane blew out to sea or the blizzard fizzled.  When the blizzard or hurricane HIT, though, every time I was glad the extra precautions had been taken.

At the moment, the EP and I are in Chicagoland, and thankful along with millions of others that protests after the release of the dashcam video of the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald simmered, but did not explode into flame…yet.  Today, local activists plan to demonstrate by blocking the most active retail business area of the city, on the single busiest shopping day of the year, so the potential for conflagration still exists. (And throngs of mostly unarmed shoppers present an invitingly target-rich environment to any terrorists modeling off the Nairobi incident.)

Here’s hoping that we all have a pleasant, meaningful, and PEACEFUL Thanksgiving weekend!


Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 by Mas | 14 Comments »

As the classic American holiday looms, so does danger.  Today I was speaking at the annual training conference of ITOA, the Illinois Tactical Officers Association.  The authorities are acutely aware of serious threats from ISIS of mass murder attacks on American soil.  Large gatherings of presumably helpless people…a uniquely American holiday to defile…ISIS sympathizers already inside the United States…and the blatant threat of attack by ISIS itself…the ingredients are all there.

Travel safe. Travel alert. If at all possible, travel armed.  It would not be the best time to be attending large public gatherings.  Don’t let a rural setting make you complacent; these people want Americans to believe they are not safe anywhere.2015-11-24 18.19.45

Meanwhile, in Chicago, protesters are marching in chilly streets after the announcement that a city police officer has been charged with first degree murder in the controversial cross-racial shooting thirteen months ago of a teenage knife-wielder. Marches in the streets were how the Baltimore riots started.  With all the cops tied up in a civil disturbance, terrorists would find the Windy City a particularly inviting target.

Defy the terrorists and have a great Thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 22nd, 2015 by Mas | 30 Comments »

No one in the world of counter-terrorism was surprised at what happened in Paris.  Terrorists have been performing such atrocities for a very long time.

And counter-terrorism experts have been predicting that it will happen here, too.  ISIS has threatened as much.  Remember Fort Hood, for example.

Around the country, police are being advised to be especially cautious even off duty, and some departments are telling their armed personnel to carry their service pistols and a couple of spare magazines on their own time, not just a little .380 in the pocket and no more ammo than what’s in the gun.  My old friend Dave Workman gives an example here.

And as Dave points out, armed citizens are facing this reality too.

In recent weeks, we saw an armed citizen on the street shoot and kill a rampaging jihadi who had just stabbed a rabbi to death.  That righteous gunfire ended the rampage without further loss of innocent life.

Inevitably you will hear, “Aw, that’s not going to happen here.”

I’m sure that’s what each of the Parisian victims would have said in the moments before the gunfire and explosives erupted there last week.


Monday, November 16th, 2015 by Mas | 28 Comments »

The six-day Legal Eagles seminar continued on Sunday with a powerful all-day presentation by attorney Mitch Vilos, author of “Self-Defense Laws of All Fifty States.” Mitch specializes in firearms law and has done a hundred or more such cases himself as trial lawyer, and has studied hundreds more such cases for research.  He has discovered the epiphany almost every attorney experiences in the courtroom:  law school teaches you the law, not trial tactics.  The latter is something that is learned on the job, or in specialized in-service training known as CLE (continuing legal education).M_Vilos

Mitch is smart, he’s funny (in a good way), and he’s a voice of experience. He pointed out that the defenses-with-firearms which seem to cause the least trouble to the good person with the gun are those involving home defense, interdiction of mass murder, and fighting off armed robbers.  The least defensible are those in which the defendant might be seen as “the initial aggressor,” or those in which the defendant was doing something illegal at the time of the incident.

Some of those epiphanies are counter-intuitive. Mitch, like veteran defense lawyer Jim Fleming who spoke the day before him, has found that cops make wonderfully favorable jurors in self-defense shooting cases.  And that’s just the tiniest sample of the experiential wisdom for which the dozens of attendees are paying a well-spent $3,000 over the course of this six-day seminar. It wouldn’t be right for me to give it all away here.

Let me share another bit of Mitch Vilos’ wisdom. I am not exactly the world’s biggest fan of pastel pistolas. However, Mitch revealed that his current concealed carry pistol in his stomping grounds of Salt Lake City is a purple-color SIG-Sauer.  Mitch, like others of us in this business, has seen more than one case where someone has claimed the defendant pulled a gun on him when he didn’t.  Mitch likes the idea of being able to say to the investigating officer, “Ask the complainant what color the gun was that he says I pulled on him.”  If the liar doesn’t say “purple,” Mitch has a strong reinforcement of the truth that the guy never saw a gun at all and is making up a story.

Damn…live and learn.  That’s the first good reason I’ve come across for carrying a handgun of a non-traditional color.  And learning, of course, is what I came for.


Sunday, November 15th, 2015 by Mas | 3 Comments »

On a sad Saturday when the latest Democrat debates saw the Presidential hopefuls trying to outdo each other to see who could be the most anti-gun (and in which Bernie Sanders seemed to blame terrorism on climate change), dozens of serious gun owners and firearms instructors were facing reality as the Legal Eagles firearms law seminar continued in Washington.

Much of that reality is counter-intuitive.  For instance, criminal defense lawyers are taught all the way back to law school to never allow a past or present cop to be on the jury that judges one of their clients. After all, wouldn’t a guy or gal who has spent a career making drug busts and arresting drunk drivers be predisposed to convict a defendant facing such charges?Jim_Fleming

Jim Fleming, a cop for the first ten years of his career in the criminal justice system and a defense attorney for the last three decades plus, explained why he loves to have cops on juries in self-defense trials.  Of all the people in the jury pool, who will better understand the defendant’s perspective better than someone who straps on a gun when going to work every day, because they may face the very same murderous dirtbag the defendant was forced to shoot in self-defense?

I’ve taught CLE (continuing legal education) courses with Jim on managing the self-defense case, under the auspices of ACLDN, the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network.  To sample Jim’s experience and wisdom, read the book about one of his most famous cases (“The Bison King,” available from Amazon)  and particularly his book on handling self-defense situations, “Aftermath.”.  If Jim Fleming’s “Aftermath” wasn’t a damn good book, I damn sure wouldn’t have written the foreword.



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