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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.

Massad Ayoob


Friday, September 13th, 2013

Today is two months exactly since the day of the Zimmerman verdict, which I started blogging on that same day. Two months, and twenty entries, are nice round numbers to end upon. That’s right at twice as long as the trial took, including the week of jury selection. The strangeness continues, with the prosecution’s medical examiner Dr. Shiping Bao being fired for his egregious performance in this case, and suing for a hundred million dollars over that. The divorce proceeding of Mr. and Mrs. George Zimmerman grows weirder.  A key player in the case has decided that he doesn’t want to play anymore, and has a new gig. The story will continue. It’s been about twenty years since the O.J. Simpson trial, and he’s still in the news. But I won’t discuss that case until I’ve walked a mile in O.J.’s blood-stained, “ugly-ass” Bruno Magli shoes. There will be books. Damn near everyone associated with the Simpson case eventually wrote one. I’ll be interested in hearing from the Zimmerman prosecutors, and from the defense lawyers, and from the judge (from whom I’m still waiting to hear a ruling as to the allegations of the prosecution withholding evidence from the defense).  I’ll be particularly interested to read George Zimmerman’s own account. Earlier in this blog, I mentioned that he had reportedly wanted to testify, that I thought he handled himself well talking to the investigators, and would have done well on the witness stand if he was as articulate as his brother Robert, who tore Piers Morgan a new one on CNN.  Robert Zimmerman later sent the following tweet:

There already are books.  “Florida v. Zimmerman: Uncovering the Malicious Prosecution of my Son, George” by the defendant’s father, Robert Zimmerman, Sr., and “Defending Our Friend: the Most Hated Man In America” by Mark Osterman, the close friend who trained him with a gun and testified so well on his behalf, are available. The co-author of the latter was Sondra Osterman, who also helped show Zimmerman’s human face when she testified at trial. I’ve mentioned in this series that when the mainstream media dismally failed to tell the truth, the blogosphere picked up the ball they dropped.  A classic example of that was the work of Conservative Treehouse, the “Treepers” who told the truth about the case in all its dimensions. The best digest I’ve seen of that good work is “If I had a Son: Race, Guns, and the Railroading of George Zimmerman” by Jack Cashill. There is also good reading on the topic to be found in “The Lynching of George Zimmerman” by Hunter Billings III.  Those are just the ones I’ve read; there are more. The titles of the dad’s book and that of the friends show that they’re obviously advocates for one side. The Cashill and Billings books clearly have advocacy in them, but that doesn’t distract from the truth if the advocates are on the side of that truth, and the evidence showed that these advocates were. I hope another book on the trial will be forthcoming from my friend and former student Andrew Branca. His reporting from right there in the courtroom was, I think, the gold standard for commentary on the trial as it unfolded. It can be found day by day for the trial, which went from June 10 to July 13, 2013, at When you go there, budget yourself some time to read the huge volume of commentary on each day’s blog.  Legal Insurrection draws an audience very heavily populated by lawyers and other criminal justice professionals, and there is gold in their assessment of the strategy and execution of the tactics seen in this trial.  Branca is a lawyer who specializes in self-defense (get his excellent book on that topic at  His commentary and that of the readers will sound like advocacy for Zimmerman, but if you read it carefully, you’ll see that he and most of the commentators are really advocating for law and reality…which just happened to favor Zimmerman. This nationally divisive case brought out tribalism at a disturbingly high level.  Black versus white. Anti-gun versus pro-gun. I for one didn’t come from that angle.  As an advocate for armed citizens, it’s as important to me to step on the ones who screw up as to celebrate the many more who save innocent lives. The history of it is, any community that does not police itself will be policed for outside.  If I thought Zimmerman had done wrong, I would have said so. Had I been going with tribes, I would have sided with special prosecutor Angela Corey. We have a lot in common.  We’ve both made our careers in the justice system, we’ve both prosecuted, and we both have Arabic-American ancestry.  Sorry, homegirl, I just can’t side with you on this one.  My career has taught me to go with the evidence to find out who’s on the side of the angels, and in this case, Angela, you were on the wrong side.  Simple as that. When John Guy did his dramatic opening statement for the prosecution, he ended with his now-famous line, “We are confident that at the end of this trial you will know in your head, in your heart, in your stomach that George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to. He shot him for the worst of all reasons, because he wanted to.” Under the prosecutorial duty to be a minister of justice, this writer believes that Ms. Corey should have simply brought the evidence before a grand jury and given them the option to indict. Instead, she bypassed that key element of the criminal justice system and set the stage for a cruel show trial.  I suspect that historians will write of it more as, “Angela Corey did not put George Zimmerman and his family through this ordeal because she had to. She did it for the worst of all possible reasons…because she wanted to.”


  1. John Says:

    Spot on analysis. Especially agree on Branca’s book and coverage of the trial.

  2. tom wise Says:

    Massad, Great Series! Thanks. tw

  3. Dennis Says:

    Power, money, and fame. These are the driving force behind many in our society. It seems as if all of these, at least in the minds of some, can be achieved in career politics. Each of these goals can produce good or evil according to the moral and ethical foundation of the individuals involved. Each political entity involved in this travesty failed the moral/ethical test miserably, placing them in the evil category. Historically, most serial killers and mass murderers were seeking at least two of these. The political figures that history has remembered as most evil were seeking all three. It behooves us all to seek out and support those who can pass the morality/ ethics test to fill our positions of political power. Alas, asking those who could pass the muster to serve would be asking them to jump into a cesspool and asking them to associate themselves with people their inner-being is repulsed by. In a just world the voters of Sanford, Florida would elect their fired police chief to the office of mayor in a write -in campaign. He passed a very public test showing his fitness to lead as did others who were punished for displaying integrity.

  4. Linda Says:


    Thank you again for a wonderful series loaded with fact instead of the usual b.s. perpetrated by the mainstream media. As usual your integrity remains in tact unlike most of the whores that call themselves journalists these days.

    Well done Sir…..

  5. Lazy Bike Commuter Says:

    I think Zimmerman is almost going to HAVE to write a book, because I have a feeling that with everything out there about him and him being so well-known, he isn’t going to be able to work a normal job any more.

  6. Jusuchin (Military Otaku) Says:

    I’ve read your analysis on the trial since you’ve started, and have followed it on Legal Insurrection, and I’ve to to say I thank you and Mr. Branco’s work. I’ll be looking for those aforementioned books. Thank you.

  7. Jim Ashford Says:

    Thank you massad, for making a complicated and emotional subject clear.
    Regards Jim

  8. David Keough Says:

    Mas, I can’t thank you enough for everything you do for each of us. Your work is truly amazing.

  9. Marc-Wi Says:

    Mas, thank you for the series. I was able to point some to the posts on how the fallout affects the shooters. I think it helped them understand better than my telling them.

    Also I came across this piece of crap today……….

    Stay safe

  10. Burke (Florida attorney) Says:

    Although I’ve never met her, Angela Corey is well known by many defense lawyers in the 7th Judicial Circuit (where I practice) because she was an assistant state attorney in St. Augustine for a while. She is widely regarded here as a loon.

  11. jak Says:

    Do you think you can find something else,anything else to talk about? Really tired of hearing about this.Its over move on .

  12. Mas Says:

    jak, if you’d read it, you’d know it was the concluding segment.

  13. Professor Mike Says:

    As others have said: Excellent series, Mas.

    Thank you.

  14. Dugo Says:

    Been said well already, but please let me add my thanks again, with much respect.

  15. Sonny Says:

    I think he didnt expect you to read the comments, refreshing to know you do.
    Thank You for a great series , and for Your Service.

  16. jack76590 Says:


    Thanks, great series, I learned a lot and enjoyed reading.

    I hope George Zimmerman has the intelligence and emotional control to stay out of the spotlight for awhile.

    George should perhaps write his story in DRAFT while events are fresh in his mind, but don’t publish just yet.

    I don’t believe anyone thinks all that clearly after an emotional event. And George has certainly been on an emotional roller coaster.

    I believe, that there will be more to this saga. I hope George makes good decisions and has a good life.

  17. KiA Says:

    i find it odd that the dispatcher’s statement to zimmerman has been misquoted over and over again by people that claim to be on the side of the facts. the dispatcher said “we don’t need you to do that”. mas, you have repeatedly mentioned what he said was “you don’t have to do that”. marty’s article @armedcitizensnetwork, The Unmeritorious Prosecution of George Zimmerman, also misquotes “You don’t need to do that”.

    it may not be a huge difference, but i expect someone that is pointing the finger at the media for twisting facts to be careful of not doing the same.

  18. Alonzo Gomez Says:

    I don’t think this was discussed too much at all. What I was sick of was the media hype and uninformed opinions from people, and that, thank God, has subsided. But I found it refreshing that Mas was able and willing to speak on this subject, and to do so in such an exhaustive manner. Because this case will be with us for a long time.
    When I discuss self-defense options with people and I bring up Evan’s Marshall’s Dangers of Intervention essay, or even Mas’ many writings over the years, people give me a blank stare. Now I’ll just have to say, “remember Zimmerman?”, and anybody will instantly know what I’m referring to and what could happen to any carrying citizen when he walks into an iffy situation. This should be an argument ender whenever someone sings that same old a-good-shoot-is-a-good-shoot song.

  19. Bamadrifter Says:

    Thanks so much, Mas! I saved my comment for the end of your GZ series. When friends ask me in the future what my view is on CCW/ justifiable homicide/ and this case in particular, I will send all questions to this blog. Your commentary on the GZ case should be textbook reading for all American History students along with Jeff Cooper’s commentary on Ruby Ridge. Thanks again for a “No BS” analysis! 🙂

  20. Bob Says:


    Excellent series. The last couple of lines are destined to be classics. Your experience and love for justice really shone through the series. I’ve recommended your posts to many, and all have enjoyed and learned from all of them. Thanks for the breath of fresh air.

  21. Josh from Oklahoma Says:

    Thanks Mr. Ayoob. I have eagerly awaited each part in this blog and have used what facts you have presented to combat the uninformed here at work.

  22. wg Says:

    Mr. Ayoob, excellent work on the series and using this tragic incident as an opportunity to teach valuable knowledge. Would like to see an extended version of this in a book by you. At least I would know that I was not getting “spin” or ghostwritten stuff.

  23. Retired Rick Says:

    Mas, It is great to read about facts when something this dramatized happens. I just don’t understand why the media blows things out of proportion. Thanks for all your hard work.

  24. Mike T. Says:

    At last, a pro gun rights advocate that can present their side with civility and logic. Too bad the rest of them don’t seem to have that capability. Disclaimer: I don’t agree with your philosophy, but it is good to hear from someone on that side who is as articulate, intelligent, and polite as you. People on both sides should reflect on how you present your points.

  25. Old NFO Says:

    Thanks for an outstanding series of posts Mas!

  26. Alonzo Gomez Says:

    Funny, Mike T.: to me, it’s the often antis who sound uneducated, uninformed and unable to let reason win over emotions! The smart and educated ones come across as disingenuous and/or self-serving, and their agendas always show.
    If you spent more time around them you might find a disturbing (to you) number of articulate and reasonable people among gun folks.

  27. Sally Says:

    Mas, I am fairly new to the world of firearms. I was raised by a mother who detested guns and all that they stood for. I am married to a man who disarmed himself at my request due to the children in the home. They are now grown and gone. My husband has purchased a Ruger SR40 and I a Ruger SR9c and I am learning how mislead I have been all those years. We recently completed taking our training for our concealed weapons permits and are waiting on them to come in the mail. We were told about you in our CCW class by the instructor, Mr. Bob Denis. I appreciate the time you took to outline the trial of Mr Zimmerman. I read each of your entries and all of the connected links. This is the first time I can actually say I understand this trial and what really happened that night. I look forward to reading more from you!

  28. Dave (the liberal, non-Uncle one) Says:

    I’ve kind of been Mas’ loyal opposition throughout this series, so I’d like to offer a valedictory from my point of view. As Mas pointed out in the last installment, there are those of us liberals who see this case as a gun issue or a black/white issue. I don’t. I believe that Zimmerman was, indeed, legally innocent and as implied by that, that when all the facts are considered, that it is highly probable that Martin probably committed the first unlawful act which led to Zimmerman being forced to use deadly force in self-defense. I also do not believe that Zimmerman pursued Martin with the intention of engaging with him, much less confronting him; indeed, I believe that Martin initiated both the contact and the physical confrontation. I do not believe Zimmerman should have been prosecuted and that the prosecution was, more than likely, politically motivated. I do not believe there is any clear evidence that Zimmerman was racially motivated in doing anything that he did that night. I do not believe that Florida’s stand your ground laws played any direct legal part in the outcome of this case.

    If all that’s the case, then how am I the opposition? Zimmerman left his vehicle while armed and engaged in an unnecessary and unreasonably risky scouting mission in the face of a suspect who Zimmerman had not see do anything which was illegal but who, if you believe Zimmerman (and I don’t on this point, but we’ll take his word for it for this purpose), had exhibited possible aggression (circling Z’s vehicle) but no immediate actual threat towards Zimmerman at the time he left his vehicle (and and any possible immediate aggression towards Z had terminated by Martin’s departure). The police had been called and were on their way. The risk of a violent confrontation, though unintended by Z, wholly outweighed the risk of the loss of any benefit which could have been achieved by scouting for this particular suspect. Even if there had been some clear tie between this suspect and property crimes in this neighborhood — which there was not — by getting out of his vehicle, armed, Z was putting his own life, Martin’s life, and the lives of bystanders at risk. That was an unreasonable and foolish act, not a valorous one.

    Am I suggesting that Z should have left his gun in the car if he was going to scout Martin? No, that would have been equally stupid though somewhat more because of issues of his own safety than on public safety. What I am suggesting is that Z should have, under these circumstances at this time and place, not left his vehicle at all but especially should not have left it while armed. This finally brings me to Florida’s SYG and self-defense immunity laws. I have no proof of this, but I strongly believe that Z would not have left his vehicle were it not for his knowledge of and reliance upon the protection of those laws. He would not have left it unarmed because of the possible risks to his person and he would not have left it armed because he would have been afraid of the legal consequences of self-defense. And that would have been the right outcome in this case.

    I can see other circumstances which might have been more ambiguous: Had Z seen Martin coming out of someone’s broken window or running from a person lying bleeding on the ground, perhaps his armed scouting trip would have been justified and the confidence given by Florida’s laws justified as well. But in this case, and as a general principle for citizen patrollers (and yes, Z was not actually on patrol at this time), Z should have stayed in his truck and what actually happened when he did not was clearly and obviously within the scope of the possible risks he assumed when he chose not to do so. While I do not believe that he should have been prosecuted, neither am I outraged that it happened. That, too, was within the scope of those risks and, whether fair or unfair, by getting out of his truck Zimmerman sewed the wind and reaped the whirlwind.

    (Do I feel the same about Martin? Yes. While I can understand his frustration as a young black man being observed and scouted by a white man, there’s nothing in the record which suggests that he had any specific reason to believe that Zimmerman was an actual threat to his safety any more than Zimmerman had a specific reason to believe that Martin was an actual threat to Zimmerman’s safety or neighborhood property. I can also understand that young black people who have drawn the suspicious attention of white men can, in general, be at some risk of assault or worse and justifiably fearful. But none of that justifies a preemptive physical strike. The circumstances and history which have given rise to those fears and frustrations are both very real and unfair in the extreme, but that inequity and oppression must be addressed by addressing the circumstances, not by allowing individuals to strike out when not legally justified or diminishing their legal responsibility or legal risks if they choose to do so: equality under the law must work both ways. Martin also sewed the wind here by assaulting Zimmerman, and also reaped the whirlwind.)

    I believe that Zimmerman’s foolish act of getting out of his truck to scout Martin was the “but for” event which set the stage for this tragedy and that he was thus morally responsible for the events which foreseeably followed. That does not mean that Martin was not also morally responsible, nor does it justify his irresponsible and illegal act. The real villain was, in my opinion, Florida’s extreme self-defense laws which emboldened Zimmerman’s irresponsibility.

  29. Alonzo Gomez Says:

    Are we going over this all over again? Martin was not a suspect, but a subject until he committed his first illegal act by assaulting Zimmerman.

    Those who want to blame Zimmerman for getting involved are basically saying that he should’ve been in fear of someone on the street, in his own community, and kept a safe distance.

    Was he emboldened by the fact that he was allowed to carry a gun into that situation? Why would that matter? Saying that he reaped what he sowed is just blaming the victim and encouraging fear of the other, pure and simple, which is certainly NOT a liberal ideal! We, of all political stripes, should promote the opposite and just make sure that those attacked without cause are able to defend themselves, like, by pushing for more guns issued and carried. An armed society is a polite society. Martin acted like a punk because he didn’t suspect that his victim would be armed – his (final) mistake.

  30. Sarah Says:

    For God’s sake (Dave-the-liberal) all this coulda-woulda-shoulda and victim-blaming is just SO tiresome. Being extremely liberal myself (when it comes to social issues such as abortion, gay marriage, health care, tree hugging, the usual) it exasperates me to NO END how ridiculously fearful my compatriots can be when it comes to guns. Why must liberals be such SHEEP when it comes to self defense? I mean really, “don’t get involved”? THAT’s your recommendation for a better society? Why do we liberals all seem to have a Daddy complex, thinking someone else will always save us? That bad things won’t happen to us good people? That guns “make” people violent-minded? That the cops will, (or even can) always save us? Please, please, please wake up, and realize that YOU bear the responsibility for yourself and the people around you, and that there are no guarantees that the world will cooperate, and that there is certainly NO SUCH THING as perfect security. One of the hallmarks of maturity is being able to handle a little ambiguity and uncertainty without falling apart.

    Sorry for the rant Mas, because what I really wanted to say was Thank You from the bottom of my heart for such a great, level-headed, well-written series.

  31. MitchellinVT Says:

    Great reading, Mas.

  32. Mitchell Ota Says:

    Great series Mas. An odd chapter in US history.

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