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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, April 13th, 2014 by Mas | 17 Comments »
John Farnam

John Farnam

I’ve waited this long to comment on the latest atrocity at Fort Hood, to allow the investigation to play out. A few days prior to the incident, my friend and colleague John Farnam had pointed out that military intelligence indicated there would be a “replay of Fort Hood” very soon somewhere in America.  At this point, there is no indication that he latest mad dog was a jihadist, only a man with a broken mind who had apparently put a good deal of thought into such mass murder before he carried it out…closer to the monster of Sandy Hook Elementary School than the fanatic who previously wrought havoc at Fort Hood.

In the end, the motive matters less than the act…and the failure to interdict it in a timely fashion. The same John Farnam, a combat Marine in the Vietnam era and a lawman later, noted after the last rampage that on the rare occasions when gunmen do the same in a domestic law enforcement environment – that is, open fire in a police station – they at most get off a few shots and inflict a few wounds before the intended victims react, draw their own ever-present service pistols from their holsters, and shoot the gunman down like the mad dog he has obviously become.

Large institutions steeped in tradition are slow to change their paradigms, and the American military fits that description  in this respect.

Andy Brown

Andy Brown

But it has now been 20 years since the mass murder at Fairchild AFB, five since the jihadist rampage at Fort Hood (“workplace violence,” my ass), and days since the latest horror on the same killing ground.  Each time, it ended as soon as the mass murderer came under fire. A bullet in the brain from my friend Andy Brown’s Beretta put down the rabid dog of Fairchild. A security officer’s bullet paralyzed the first Fort Hood coward into a limbo that stopped this side of his hoped-for martyrdom. When the latest killer came under fire, he shot himself dead, as so many mass-murderers have in other settings as soon as they met return fire, or knew they were about to.

Unilaterally disarming our own armed services in the face of clear and present threat is simply ludicrous. Arming the potential victims on our domestic bases will be a complicated thing. Simply recognize civilian carry permits for qualified personnel on base? Easier at Fort Hood in Texas or Fort Benning in Georgia than at the Pentagon in the District of Columbia.  If nothing else, select officers and non-coms wearing service pistols on base would be a good start.  There are many fine minds at the Judge Advocate General’s Office which could work that out.

Otherwise, history tells us, the second Fort Hood massacre will not be the last replay of this American Tragedy.


FORT HOOD: Go ahead, blame the weapon, not the killer…



Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 by Mas | 76 Comments »

My old friend Frank James has long been one of America’s favorite gun writers.  His honest warts-and-all evaluations of new firearms won the hearts of firearms enthusiasts even as they pissed off certain manufacturers.  He brought the same straightforward approach to his TV gun shows, “Gallery of Guns” on The Sportsman Channel and “Gun Stories” on The Outdoor Channel.

I learned from one of my favorite bloggers, Tamara Keel at View from the Porch, that Frank had been felled by a severe stroke in late January.  Thanks to brother writers Rich Grassi and Walt Rauch, I discovered that he was recovering in one of the world’s best rehabilitation clinics, and was able to adjust the schedule and fly there for a quick visit.

Happily, I can report that Brother Frank is still very much with us, still with a strong gun hand and working on getting the other hand back up and running.  The stroke damn near killed him, but he’s walking better than expected and exceeding the requirements of physical therapy every day. He wants to express his thanks for the volunteer emergency rescue team that saved his life, and for the rehab nurses he calls “angels with bedpans.”

Best of all, his incisive mind remains intact.  One friend told him, “You sound like the old Frank, with a cold.”  Hell, talking with him at the clinic, I couldn’t even detect the “cold” part.  You’ll be able to catch Frank on “Gun Stories” toward the end of July, because he recorded his segments prior to the stroke, but the medical crisis forced him to miss “Gallery of Guns” this season. Expect him back next season though!

Frank wants to remind all y’all to closely monitor high blood pressure if you have it, take your meds religiously, and dial 9-1-1 at the first hint of stroke symptoms. He doesn’t want others to go through what he did.  He’ll soon be transferring to a rehab center closer to home, so his lovely wife of 37 years won’t have to travel three hours each way to visit him.

“I’m going to beat this,” he says resolutely.

I know the man. With his determination and strength of character, I think he’s going to beat it, too.

You are all invited to post your good wishes to Frank in the comments section here, and I’ll see that they get to him, sorta like a cybernetic get-well card.

Frank James is an inspiration to us all.

Frank James


Friday, April 4th, 2014 by Mas | 11 Comments »

I sadly learned of the death today of Otis McDonald.  He passed at 79 after a valiant battle against cancer. It was the first long battle he didn’t win.

As a black man in America, he fought his way up from economic disadvantage to earning a good living for his family.  He fought against violent crime in his adopted city of Chicago, and in so doing came to his most famous battle as the lead named plaintiff in McDonald, et. al. v. City of Chicago. In the plaintiffs’ landmark victory in that case in 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that neither the Windy City nor any other city could ban law-abiding citizens from owning handguns for defense of self and family.  The McDonald decision helped pave the way for the concealed carry permits now being issued throughout Illinois.

You can listen to my interview with Otis McDonald and co-plaintiffs Colleen Lawson, David Lawson, and Adam Orloff.  Not long before his death, Colleen and David and I were able to gather some students to create a video postcard of thanks and well-wishes to Otis.

He was a fighter for civil rights and human rights in every respect, and Otis McDonald will never be forgotten.

Godspeed, brother.

Edited 4/8/14 to add: Brother Dave Workman at Second Amendment Foundation, which sponsored Otis’ historic lawsuit, has announced services this coming Friday for Mr. McDonald.  Wish I could make it; hope all in the Chicagoland area can.  Info — and important commentary — can be found here:



Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 by Mas | 27 Comments »

Ever since some ACLU types tried to ban hollow points in the early ‘70s, the clueless have been shouting about “malicious intent” to cause “additional pain and suffering” with “more lethal” ammo. We’ve explained several reasons why it’s used. There’s one more, and it surprises folks until they look at what the courts call “the totality of the circumstances.”
One sharp-eyed, sharp-thinking reader, Alonzo Gomez, has already found it. In the last segment, he commented, “…just wanted to add this: stopping who needs to be stopped as fast as possible is not only in the interest of the shooter and any possible bystanders or victims, but also in the shootee’s. While the antis are so busy finding terminal ballistics discussions distasteful and irrelevant to their approach (‘don’t have a gun’), they seem to miss that one effective bullet, as abhorrent as the term ‘effective’ may be to them, is preferable to 12 ineffective ones in the target’s body. Hollow points are actually more humane. Unless they prefer that we load with icepick projectiles so they can better nail us in the courtroom for overkill?”
Alonzo nailed it. If you look at the big picture, the guy shot fewer times is probably easier for emergency medical personnel to save, making the expanding bullet literally less lethal. Now, the points of less over-penetration, reduced ricochet, and faster stops are pretty much incontrovertible. This last point is more debatable, because there are so many variables as to where even one bullet can land. But it’s a strong argument for our side, certainly strong enough to serve as an antidote to the poison of the BS “dum-dum bullets are indicia of malice” argument.
Thanks for taking the time to read this short series. Life has taught me that if you can’t explain why you’re doing what you’re doing, it’s nature’s way of telling you that you probably shouldn’t be doing it. The above explanations have served me well for forty years, and for the best of all reasons: they’re absolutely true.


Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 by Mas | 40 Comments »

The reason police unions and police firearms training units fought so hard for hollow point bullets back in the day was that they wanted their cops to survive gunfights with violent criminals.  Simply put, expanding bullets stop the bad guys faster.

The history of law enforcement shows it, incontrovertibly.  I was a young puppy when I learned of the case in which an NYPD officer emptied his six-shot .38 into a man charging him with a knife. The 158 grain round-nose lead .38 Special bullets just punched ice-pick wounds in one side of the criminal and out the other, and he was still able to stab the officer in the center of the chest. They died together on the street. Then I remember a friend of mine, a mid-Western policeman, who had to use a similar .38 Special revolver against a man trying to murder him: a single hollow point bullet in the center of the chest dropped the attacker in his tracks.  My friend, all these years later, is still alive.

That was the history of the old “ball ammo” versus today’s hollow points.  It runs true across the range of calibers in handguns, and even up into rifles.  Why do hunters use expanding bullets on soft-skinned big game?  Same reason: it drops them faster.  Mammals are mammals, two-legged or four.  Yes, some of both kinds of critters soak up a lot of bullets before they go down. As a rule, it takes fewer hollow points than it does “ball” rounds. This is why, from the Los Angeles Police Protective League to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association in NYC, police representative organizations shouted long and loud for more effective ammo for their members. Once the hollow points were on the streets and the results were in, those cries died down.

Why is a citizen, security guard, or cop ever allowed to shoot a human being at all? Because that human being is doing something so terrible that the laws of Society and Man and God together have approved shooting him as justifiable homicide, to save the innocent from the man who has to be shot.  The sooner he falls, the sooner he stops shooting or stabbing innocent people;  the sooner his savagery ends, the better it is for all the innocent people concerned.

Wasn’t it Napoleon who supposedly said that God fought on the side that had the best artillery? If you’re on the righteous side, you want the best artillery…and, history shows, with small arms from pistols to rifles, the best artillery is a bullet that does more than punch a narrow, puckered ice-pick wound.



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