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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.


Sunday, July 26th, 2015 by Mas | 16 Comments »

…do not always guarantee the best of results.

After the atrocious mass murder at the recruiting office in Chattanooga, some civilians who support their military have showed up conspicuously armed to perform volunteer guard duty at other recruiting centers.  Some of them are military vets.  I totally sympathize with their wish to protect the people who protect their nation.

However, it has not worked out as well as some might have hoped.  In one incident, a volunteer was “showing” his AR15 to a passerby – something not normally compatible with “guard duty” – and an unintended discharge occurred.

Here, a volunteer guard was authoritatively requested to leave.

And here, we find the military itself less than thrilled with the idea.

As one observer noted, most of us would be leery of a volunteer unknown to us who showed up on our roof fixing the shingles, let alone standing outside our house with a military rifle to guard us, uninvited.  Moreover, if strangers with visible rifles become the norm outside recruiting stations, it will allow the next jihadi to make a closer approach and not trigger alert status until he starts shooting.

What’s that saying about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions?  I appreciate Americans who care about the safety of their soldiers and Marines.  It seems, however, that political activism to get trained, armed military personnel distributed on base and in recruiting stations is going to be the best support we can offer in this vein to our service men and women.


Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 by Mas | 31 Comments »

There has been a lot of talk lately about self-defense shootings of black suspects by white people being treated differently than if it had been a white person harmed by an African-American.  The perception is nothing new. I recently had occasion, for another reason, to review a story about one of my cases that I had written in the late 1990s. The following is an excerpt from my assessment of a trial I had participated in a year before.

The quote: Johnny Cochran, NAACP-coordinated picketing, a white versus black thing. I hate it when that happens. I worry about it sometimes, but probably more than I should.

            Cross-racial shootings bring the same concerns whether I’m speaking for white good guy who shot black bad guy, or vice versa, both of which I’ve done several times.

            A little more than six months before this trial, I testified for a black man charged with first degree murder and standing before an all-white jury after he had shot a white man in self-defense. That jury found him not guilty, and did so during the O.J. Simpson civil trial in the courtroom next door to where the Simpson case was being adjudicated. Justice was served.

            This time, I spoke for a white man charged with first degree murder and standing before a largely black jury after he had shot a black man in self-defense. I knew how much pressure there had to be on the black jurors, and knew what they’d face if they acquitted and went home to a community that had heard Johnny Cochran and the media say that (defendant) Hubbard had killed a black man for no good reason.

            The jury was out for about an hour and 40 minutes before they returned their verdict and found Blake Hubbard not guilty. One juror said later that they’d reached the acquittal verdict unanimously during their first five minutes of deliberation.

Call me a starry-eyed optimist if you will, but my opinion hasn’t changed in the 17 years since I wrote that.  I’ve learned to trust the jury.  Get the facts in front of them, and they’ll do the right thing, the forces of media bias and hate-mongering notwithstanding.


Saturday, July 18th, 2015 by Mas | 51 Comments »

After yet another vicious, cowardly, murderous assault that has left five American service personnel dead on American soil, someone has finally insisted on an appropriate response. After the recent atrocity at the Marine recruiting office in Chattanooga, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has ordered full time National Guardsmen in his state to be armed on duty. .

Asa Hutchinson, we recall, was the man named to head the NRA School Shield program to put armed security in our nation’s schools in the wake of the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.  He is a man who understands the logical truth: the only way to stop mad dog mass killers is to do what we would do with any other mad dog.

“Big Army” may be reviewing something similar, though apparently more hesitantly:|bon|dl2|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D1496193374 .

According to the Associated Press, “A day after a gunman shot and killed four Marines and wounded three other people in Chattanooga, Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, told reporters that arming troops in those offices could cause more problems than it might solve. ‘I think we have to be careful about over-arming ourselves, and I’m not talking about where you end up attacking each other,’ Odierno said during a morning breakfast. Instead, he said, it’s more about “accidental discharges and everything else that goes along with having weapons that are loaded that causes injuries.”

“We’re always going to be somewhat vulnerable to a lone wolf, or whatever you want to call it, a surprise shooter, because we are out there with the population and that’s where we have to be,” added the Chief of Staff.

Kudos to Governor Hutchinson for decisively doing what is obviously the right thing.  I sincerely hope it starts a trend.

In the meantime, that picture of the bullet-riddled window of the recruiting office in Chattanooga – replete with its “no guns” sign – stands as stark proof of the fact that “gun free zones” are simply hunting preserves for mass murderers.


Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 by Mas | 29 Comments »

Reading a city newspaper while having breakfast in the airport yesterday, I glanced at the news roundup. It included that fact that in Texas outlets, the Whataburger chain is putting up “no open carry” signs, since the allowing that recently passed in the Lone Star State.

The item, printed without a byline, says in part, “In an open letter on the company’s website, Whataburger president and CEO Preston Atkinson said many employees and customers are ‘uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm.’”

It went on, “Atkinson’s letter comes one month after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that made it legal to carry handguns openly on the streets of the nation’s second most-populous state, ending a prohibition dating back to the post-Civil War era that disarmed former Confederate soldiers and freed slaves.

Emphasis mine. True words belong to Seth Robbins, who turns out to have written the piece even though the paper I read it in did not give credit to him, nor to AP, which distributed it.

Good to see this in a mainstream city newspaper.


Thursday, July 9th, 2015 by Mas | 5 Comments »

Jackie Clay, Backwoods Home’s most popular author, has followed up her first novel with a sequel that her fans hope will be the first of many, “Autumn of the Loons.”  I enjoyed it as much as I did her first, “Summer of the Eagles.”  You can order both here: .

            “Autumn of the Loons” picks up a few years after the first novel, on a ranch in the Old Western frontier where the good folks who survived the first story (the bad folks didn’t) are building happy new lives.  And then…     

            Look, I don’t do spoilers. Let me just say that as in the first book, there are life lessons that will resonate with anyone who lives or at least understands self-reliance and the backwoods home lifestyle.  Things from the past that we all want to leave behind come back to haunt us, and have to be dealt with.  Only adversity shows you who’s really your friend.  Good deeds pay themselves forward in unexpected ways.  Racial hatred seems never to end, but at least can be ameliorated between people of honor.

            Jackie seems to have followed the long-standing advice to writers, “write what you know.”  She does, and her evocative writing style puts you there with her characters.  She makes you feel the heat and the terror of the onrushing wildfire, the icy rain and snow of encroaching winter where there’s no shelter you can’t fabricate yourself out of nature.  Perhaps just for us geezers, there’s a moment where a seasoned veteran of life’s anguish uses his well-worn Colt Frontier .44-40 to put a homicidal young gunman with a state of the art double action Colt Lightning in his place, which happens to be six feet under.

            The characters are well-drawn. Yes, there’s one stone evil psychopath who seems like a cartoon villain from a Charles Bronson movie, but there are people like that.  She gives us another, more complex villain who’s a sociopath with enough humanity to redeem himself and save an innocent life before he meets his maker.  And finally, as in her first novel, Jackie gives us Justice…DIY justice, it’s true, but the novel is set in a time and place where that’s pretty much the only kind available.

            Like I said, I won’t spoil it for you. I’ll only say, read the book, and be standing by for the third in the series, “Winter of the Wolves.”  As they say in my world, “Further, the affiant sayeth not.”



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