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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Archive for December, 2010

Massad Ayoob


Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Hope all y’all’s Christmases went well.  Spent mine at home base, and was reminded how good it is to be among those people with solid core values who constitute what some call The Gun Culture. Christmas Eve was spent at a small dinner party with friends, among whom the armed far outnumbered the unarmed. Dress code was “chilly weather casual,” and when the coats came off it was apparent that the hosting residence would be the worst possible target for home invaders.

Among just the ladies I counted an open-carried, engraved Smith & Wesson Performance Center 9mm, a 20-shot Springfield Armory XDm 9mm, and a snub-nose .38 or two. One sweet grandmother was carrying a Kel-Tec P3AT .380 automatic in the pocket of her jeans. The next morning, she would discover a more powerful +P-rated Smith & Wesson Model 642 Airweight .38 Special snubby under the Christmas tree, a gift from her loving husband of many years.

Among the guys present, our host was open-carrying a fancy custom Browning Hi-Power 9mm. He was wearing it for sentimental reasons: it was the first gun his wife gave him after they were married. (Most of the time, he wears a Springfield XD chambered for .357 SIG, these days.) The oldest among us generally has a Charter Arms .38 in his pocket, and the second oldest was wearing a customized Colt Government Model he’s had for some 35 years. There was a father-son pair carrying Glocks, chambered for .357 SIG and 9mm respectively. Two of us were wearing S&W Military & Police Compact autos discreetly concealed, one in 9mm and mine in .357. Another fella figured on an evening of peace on Earth and good will toward men, he could get by with just a five-shot S&W in his pocket. No one complained; some of the other guys were carrying the same guns for backup. One lone male was ostensibly unarmed, but we figured we had enough spares to cover for him…

What would the police have thought? Well, not counting off duty LE presence at the party, three uniformed officers showed up after their day shifts ended, to shoot on the adjacent privately-owned range to verify sights and “zero” with their AR15s. All were wearing their duty sidearms, of course, and none blinked at the hardware on display at the party. Cops generally know who the good people are, as surely as they know who the bad guys are.

Many of us at that party found guns under the Christmas tree the next morning. It’s a gift that speaks of a giver who trusts the recipient, and that’s not something that comes out of every beribboned package. From Ralphie’s Red Ryder BB gun in the classic film “A Christmas Story,” to your own first .22 under the tree long ago, to which ones you received or gave this year…please share with us YOUR “Christmas Gun” stories!”

Massad Ayoob


Friday, December 24th, 2010

Whatever your belief system, it’s a traditionally American time of year to appreciate those we care about, and to share compassion and good fortune.

On the Internet this season, the “history” behind the beloved story of Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer has been running around in a schmaltzy form that’s as much of a tear-jerker as “The Little Match Girl.”

Whattaya know…according to Snopes, while the ‘net version has been exaggerated, there’s more than enough truth at it’s core for it to give a little inspiration for the holiday.

Everyone on this end wishes you a joyous and relaxing Christmas weekend! Heck, I may party enough to get a little “red-nosed” myself.

Massad Ayoob


Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

The governor of New Jersey has just commuted the sentence of Brian Aitken, 27, sentenced to seven years in prison for bringing his guns and ammunition when he moved to the state of New Jersey. Read about it HERE

It did indeed become a cause célèbre among gun owners’ civil rights activists. There are some serious questions about how his trial was conducted. More than anything else, it seems to be a condemnation of the patchwork quilt of gun laws, fifty patches strong, that we gun owners have to deal with state-by-state as we travel through our own country.

A major question is, why a mere commutation instead of a complete pardon? I am happy that he is out from behind bars and with his loved ones for the Christmas holidays, but my reading of it is that he’s still a convicted felon and can no longer own firearms. I just don’t see where that’s justified.

One attorney friend of mine suggested that the Governor was righteous in commuting the sentence, but should have gone further. Another lawyer replied, “ I think he (the Governor of New Jersey) has plenty of cojones (vulgar Spanish for “testicles”). He’s a former US Attorney, and has done nothing constructive for gun laws in NJ. To the contrary, he appointed an anti-gun Attorney General. So I doubt that he truly wanted to give a full pardon but lacked the nerve. To the contrary, I think he believed the conviction to be just, but the trial unfair and the sentence excessive.”

Mr. Aitken is currently represented by Evan Nappen, a gun-savvy attorney who literally wrote the book on firearms laws there. I’ve met Evan, and I think his client is in good hands.

My hat is off to the many good people who sent both money and letters to the right places to help get this young man out from under a Draconian sentence for something that could have happened to any honest American moving cross-country. More information and background can be found at this website:

Did Brian Aitken get justice for Christmas? The commutation was certainly a good start. But did he get justice ENOUGH?

My own reading is that he didn’t get as fair a trial as he should have. But I don’t live in New Jersey. We have folks who read this blog who do…and some who are attorneys…and a whole lot of people with common sense.

What say YOU?

Massad Ayoob


Sunday, December 19th, 2010

For those hard-to-buy-for gun people on your Christmas list (or when putting together your own “me want!” list), consider a bench rest device for testing accuracy in rifles and handguns.

The more wobble you can take out of things when you’re bench-resting your firearm to check its accuracy or sighting it in to zero with a given load, the better. The Caldwell Matrix rest just came out from Battenfeld Technologies, the same folks who brought you the redoubtable Lead Sled for taking the pain out of “benching” powerful rifles, and it looks as if they’ve hit another home run with this Matrix product.

This modular unit uses knobs to adjust precisely for elevation and is also adjustable for length. Well cushioned at both butt and frame contact points, the forward support part of the Matrix is called a “ram” in the factory literature, and is designed to be locked solidly in place with another knob. My one (small) complaint came from finding that even with that locking knob hand-tight, downward pressure could start lowering the “ram,” and therefore the gun’s position and point of aim.

I call it a small complaint because anyone serious about bench rest testing is going to adjust the gun between shots, anyway. The simple fact is, recoil moves guns. With the Matrix, I found I only needed one or two light adjustments per five-shot string of fire. Hell, most of us do more between-shot adjustment than that when bench resting off sandbags … sometimes we look like insomniacs fluffing and pounding our pillows as we beat the darn bags back into position. By comparison, the Matrix is a convenience and a time-saver.

I like that it has a built-in storage spot, and mine came with an attachment that turns it into a rifle rest, which I haven’t tried yet, though I’ve found it most satisfactory for testing several pistols and revolvers so far. The sixty-smacker asking price sounds high to those of us accustomed to simple plastic gun rests, but once you’ve used a Matrix, you’ll understand why it’s worth the money, particularly if you do a lot of shooting off the bench.  Looks cool, too. More info is available through

If you’re worrying about ordering one and getting it delivered in time to get it under the Christmas tree, check the gun shops and sporting goods stores. I just saw one for sixty bucks at a Gander Mountain…saves the shipping, after all.

Massad Ayoob


Sunday, December 12th, 2010

As we look for gifts to give the shooters on our Christmas list (or gifts we’d like to receive ourselves!), it’s good to remember that lots of things that are useful as “gun stuff” are eminently suitable for other pursuits as well. I was reminded of this when I recently tested a new spotting scope.

The marksman uses this handy device to spot hits on the target and help dial in to dead center on the bull’s eye, whether in a precision-oriented shooting match or just sighting in at the gun range.  The hunter, particularly on the prairie or in the mountains, or in pastures looking for “varmints,” uses it to find his prey.

But for even non-shooters on your list, the “spotting scope” opens a new vista to Nature. It allows you to watch those adorable wild creatures in the back field, in much greater detail. It lets you see the peak of the mountain without risking your life to climb its sheer slope.

Konus has earned a good rep for their spotting scopes, and the Konuspot-100 at 20 to 60 power magnification is simply awesome. They didn’t have that sort of magnification in The Time of the Ancient Ones when I was a bulls-eye pistol shooter and, as now in that game, a spotting scope attached to your pistol box was absolutely mandatory if you wanted to stay on top of your score and do your best.  Nor did the spotting scopes of yesteryear have the exquisite clarity that I found in the test Konus.

Nor did they come with an attachment to put it on your camera. That’s a function I haven’t explored yet, but ooh…I’m gonna have fun with it!  Only downside is, it didn’t come with its own tripod, but those of us into photography have those laying around in various sizes and shapes, or you can just get a tripod at Wal-Mart. Price of this excellent and useful unit – yes, this one is staying here — is $239.99 at B&H,, with details available from Konus at

There are lots of folks who read this blog who are taking care of their gift-buying just now. Share your gift suggestions here!

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