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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Archive for January, 2013

Massad Ayoob


Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Within roughly the same timeframe as the Newtown Atrocity, a criminal armed with a crowbar broke into the home of a young mother who was there alone with her nine-year-old twins. When she and the kids had retreated as far as they could and the intruder still kept coming, she opened fire with a .38 caliber revolver.

When her gun went empty, five of the six shots had struck the intruder.  Whether it’s drunkenness, drugs, or desperation, some violent criminals can be harder than others.  In this case, the intruder was still up and running.  The smart and courageous young mom bluffed him at the point of her now-empty six-shooter, telling him in essence that she would finish him off if he kept attacking.

The bluff worked.  He fled, running out of steam later, though he is still alive to face criminal charges.

Anyone who is not blind from rabid anti-gun sentiment can see that this would not have ended well for the mom OR her young twins if the suspect had been just a little tougher and more resolved…or if he’d had an accomplice.

American Rifleman, the monthly magazine of the National Rifle Association, carries a regular column titled The Armed Citizen. It documents cases of good people using guns to protect themselves and other innocents from bad people.  This continuing feature has run for decades, so old that one of my grandfather’s self-defense incidents is in its archives.

The Armed Citizen section in the current issue of the Rifleman, warrants our interest. Bear in mind that a real life self-defense shooting is not a “Dirty Harry” cinematic fantasy in which every shot fired will both strike, and instantly blow away, a bad guy.  Real life is more like a zombie movie: if the first bullet doesn’t short-circuit the central nervous system, you have to keep shooting until the skeletal support structure no longer holds him (and his weapon) up where he can hurt you and yours, or until his cardiovascular system has run out of oxygenated blood for his brain. The latter mechanism’s effect can often be better measured in minutes than in moments.

Traditionally limited to a single page, the Armed Citizens column in the February 2013 issue contains seven incidents “torn from the headlines” as the dramatists like to say, all documented by the local news media where the incidents took place.

In EACH of those incidents, only ONE of the intended victims was armed and capable of fighting back.

A mere two of those seven documented incidents were “one on one” confrontations. In each the Good Guys were actually Good Gals:  A 35-year-old woman in New Mexico and Jill Stucker, 64, of Florida had to deal with only a single attacker apiece.

Three of the people saved by their guns were up against two-to-one odds: An unidentified farmer in West Virginia, store owner Roger Webster of Maryland, and an 83-year-old lady with a “walker” in Tennessee.

And two of the seven documented cases – A 35-year-old woman in the New Orleans area and a Pennsylvania man – were each up against a gang of at least FOUR home invaders.

In a world where the Good People With Guns often have to deliver several hits to neutralize even one Bad Person With Deadly Weapons, and in which there is often more than one attacker,  anyone applying logical thinking can only end up shouting one three-word mantra:


Massad Ayoob


Sunday, January 27th, 2013

…Be afraid of when the aircraft suddenly STOPS flying.

Yesterday, my friend John Strayer and I went aloft to try our hand shooting feral hogs from a helicopter with .44 Magnum revolvers. Our mutual friend Norm Ambrozy, who had arranged the hunt, was on the ground awaiting his turn in the little Hiller, a UH12B I believe.  This increasingly popular – and by all accounts, exhilarating – method of pest eradication has come about from overpopulations of the wild hogs absolutely destroying farmland in several parts of the country.  We thought it would be even more challenging with six-shooters.  It’s normally done with AR15 sporting rifles and, yes, those evil “large capacity magazines” which so upset the White House.

A few minutes into the flight, as we were zoning in on an oinker that had run under the canopy of some tall pines, the engine lost power.  We won’t know exactly what happened until the FAA completes its investigation, but when the main rotor hit the first treetop, the die was cast. Autorotation doesn’t work without rotors, and you all know the old joke about a helicopter’s glide path.

We ended up nose down and kinda upside down.  And grateful to be alive.  I’d like to also personally publish my gratitude to those who expressed concern when they heard about it on the Internet, and to the pilot, Graham Harward, who “brought us back alive.” Cuts, bruises, pulled muscles and stiffness, but since none of the stiffness involves rigor mortis, ain’t none of us complaining.

The flight provider describes their service as “helicopter adventures,” and that was certainly truth in advertising. I had told my sweetie, the Evil Princess, that I was going on a 4-H program: Handgun Helicopter Hog Hunt.  When we were sopping up blood en route to the hospital, she texted me from home, “Change the title to Handgun Helicopter Hog Hunt Hurtles to Harrowing Halt.” That pretty well described it…


 The helicopter warms up and pilot performs pre-flight checklist.



One of the ground crew snapped this shot just before liftoff, showing dimensions of cabin. From left: Mas, pilot Graham Harward, and John Strayer.



Heading out for hogs, at about a thousand feet, from inside the Hiller.



The last photo from inside the cabin before power was lost, showing approximate elevation when engine failed. John has his eye out for the hog he just spotted, and camera does not show the S&W .44 Magnum in his right hand. He never lost it throughout the crash, holstering only after he extricated himself from the downed bird. His index finger stayed outside the trigger guard, and his muzzle in a safe direction, the entire time.



Final resting place. That’s broken tail boom and what’s left of tail rotor at upper left, landing skids on upper right.



Crushed nose and cabin on port side, where John crawled out after crash.



Mas and pilot exited from here, on starboard side of crushed cockpit, now pretty much upside down in palmetto.



Minutes after the crash. John Strayer, left, and pilot Graham Harward are bloody but unbroken.



A few hours later at the crash site.  John, Graham, and Mas with pieces of main rotor.



Folks tell you that when you have a lucky day, you should buy a lottery ticket.  This time, it didn’t work. No complaints, though.  As John Strayer said, “We’ve used up enough luck for one day.” Note the tabs on the computer…


Massad Ayoob


Thursday, January 24th, 2013

The Internet “daily deal site” Groupon traffics in big discounts for classes, steak dinners, and a broad variety of products and services. Not being much of an Internet denizen, I’ve never used them, though my significant other is one of their regulars.   No more, though; she just swore them off in anger after Groupon announced they’ll have nothing to do with the gun industry or firearms instructors any longer.  Many gun owners are doing the same, and making it known to the company.

When gun people get spit on, they express their displeasure appropriately.  In state after state, when the concealed carry permit reform bills known as “shall issue” were passed, and carrying a gun became the right of all law-abiding citizens instead of the sole province of the wealthy, “connected” elite, we saw the same pattern again and again.  Stores and restaurants would put up “no guns” signs. Gun owners would withdraw their patronage, and politely let management know why.  Soon, in most cases, the “no guns” signs disappeared.

Panic, emotion, symbolism and elitism drive the anti-gun movement.  Logic is the strongest weapon on the pro-gun side.  We vote with our dollars as well as our ballots.  A major East Coast outdoor sports exhibition allowed itself to be caught up in the current hysteria and decided it would be politically correct to ban modern sporting rifles from display there.  The industry has answered: multiple major sponsors have withdrawn their financial support.

For a healthy dose of the logic that is the engine of the pro-gun argument, check out a regular source of that no longer common commodity, Thomas Sowell, here: .

Massad Ayoob


Saturday, January 19th, 2013

As we prepare to observe the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, it seems timely to remember that the first “gun control” in this country was focused on oppressing African-Americans in the wake of the Civil War. See  “The Racist Roots of Gun Control

If you’re not familiar with the work of my friend Kenn Blanchard, one of our most articulate spokesmen for gun owners’ civil rights, go to his website here, read what he has to say, and order his books.

I recently read “Sworn and Examined: Witnesses to Suwannee Valley Reconstruction Violence in Florida’s Third Judicial Circuit,” by Wilburn Bell (, 2012). In one transcript, a black witness describes how a murder by night-riders came to an abrupt end before it could turn into mass murder… because a black victim shot back:

Witness: …The party rushed up to the door, and shot this man down dead; he did not speak but once or twice.

Question: Did the others return the fire?

Witness: There was one colored man who returned the fire, and it was believed he wounded one of them.

Question: Did that disperse them?

Witness: Yes, sir.

One of the loudest voices for gun ownership restriction is Obama crony Rahm Emmanuel, mayor of Chicago, where there were more than 500 homicides last year.  Do some digging, and you’ll find out that the victims were overwhelmingly African-American. In 2011, Chicago murder victims were 75.3% black, 18.9% Hispanic, and only 4.6% white (stats from Chicago Police Department Research and Development Division).  It was African-Americans’ vulnerability to such things that led Otis McDonald and Colleen Lawson to join in the lawsuit that, in the US Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in McDonald, et. al. v. City of Chicago, struck down that city’s unconstitutional decades-long ban on the mere ownership of handguns by its law-abiding private citizens. You can hear them tell their own stories on the ProArms PodcastColleen,  Otis, downloadable free to your computer or iPod.

In the living memory of many of us, the Civil Rights efforts of the 1960s were largely a history of blacks using guns to defend themselves against murderous Klansmen and their cohorts. Groups like Deacons for Defense and Justice armed themselves and banded together to protect black communities from the night-riders. Order the made for TV docudrama about it, “Deacons for Defense,” from Netflix, or get a quick history fix here:  The Deacons were allied with CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality.  I never did get to meet the late Ralph Connor, head of CORE, but you can hear him state his thoughts here:


I did have the pleasure of meeting Roy Innes, another leader of CORE, who was always a strong voice for the right to keep and bear arms.







More recently, we have read the balanced logic of Professor Walter Williams. Read his recent column, “Are Guns the Problem,”










Younger folk, “Shooter Gen 2.0” are well represented by a law student who calls himself Mr. Colion Noir, on his Website and YouTube channel.









And it’s clear from his record that our highest ranking African-American jurist, Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court, understands what the Second Amendment is about, too.

Dr. King kept guns in his home to protect himself and his family. After firebombing and numerous death threats by racists, his application for a permit to carry a gun was denied by the “may issue” white power structure in that time and place.  Let the holiday that celebrates this man’s life include some reflection on the importance of the Second Amendment.

Massad Ayoob


Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Cannily, the President surrounded himself with kids from early elementary school when he gave his “gun control” speech today.  Since he speaks for the symbolism-side of this polarized debate, that was hardly unexpected.

It was a shame the young ones didn’t get the chance to discuss it themselves.  Suppose you asked a second-grader, “Kids, if a bad boy in your class took crayons and wrote all over the walls of your classroom, would it be right to take the crayons away from the boys and girls who behaved?”

I suspect the children would unanimously answer, “No! That’s not fair!  Take them away from the boy who did the bad thing, not the rest of us!”

And of course, they might also ask, “Where was the teacher?  Why didn’t the teacher stop the boy who did the bad thing with the crayons?”

THERE is the logical question: why wasn’t someone there in Sandy Hook Elementary School who could stop Adam Lanza?  Because we’re not talking crayons here, we’re talking innocent lives. The school custodian can scrub crayon graffiti from the school walls.  We can never wash away the innocent blood that was spilled at Newtown, never paint over the grief of the bereaved.

A few weeks ago, when NRA’s Wayne LaPierre explained that his organization wanted armed security in schools, the mainstream media and the anti-gunners alike excoriated him.  One New York tabloid devoted its front page to a headline that said something like, “Gun Nut: NRA Loon In Bizarre Rant.”  Yet this morning, our President said one of his own priorities was to put cops in schools in hopes of preventing a repeat of the Newtown Atrocity.  Will the same New York tabloid run a headline tomorrow that reads, “White House Loon In Bizarre Rant”?

Somehow, I doubt it.

Because some people don’t have the common sense of a seven-year-old.

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