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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Archive for June, 2017

Massad Ayoob


Friday, June 30th, 2017

There has been much discussion and outrage over the shooting of Philando Castile by police officer Jeronimo Yanez, particularly since the officer’s acquittal on all charges several days ago.

We humans are a tribal species.  The Black community seems to have closed ranks reflexively in favor of the African-American man who was killed; the blue community largely (but not entirely) has taken the side of the Hispanic officer who fired the fatal shots; and much of the concealed carry tribe seems to have automatically taken the side of the deceased, who had a carry permit.

Let’s set all that aside for a moment and look at the facts.

First, when you’re pulled over, it’s always possible that it’s happening because you and/or your vehicle fit the description of someone who has done A Very Bad Thing.  In this case, before the pullover Yanez broadcast over the radio that Castile and his car fit the description of a man and a vehicle wanted for armed robbery with a gun. He called for backup, which is why a second officer is present in the dashcam recording of the shooting.

If the officer has reason to consider you, the driver, impaired, you can expect him or her to be all the more cautious in dealing with you. Toxicology screen after death showed Castile to have THC in his bloodstream, and Yanez reported smelling a strong odor of marijuana when he reached the driver’s door.

Castile’s girlfriend did not turn on her famous smartphone livestream until moments after the shooting, and the patrol car camera could not “see” what Castile was doing. A bodycam might well have shown that and solved the question conclusively, but the officer wasn’t wearing one. This leaves us only the perceptions of those who survived to testify. The girlfriend said Castile wasn’t pulling a gun, and Castile was recorded saying the same with his dying breath, but the officer perceived that Castile was drawing a gun, and stated that was why he drew and fired his service pistol.

Here is the dashcam video, from CNN.  Subtitles seen on some versions don’t show it, but at approximately the 43 second point, when Officer Yanez cries “Don’t pull it out!”  Castile sounds as if he replies “I have to pull it out.” Interestingly, the subtitle on CNN, and even an official transcript, have him saying that he’s not pulling it out.  YOU listen, and YOU tell me what YOU’RE hearing.

Some skeptics have said that if Yanez thought the driver of this car might be armed and dangerous, he was negligent in not making a felony stop. He did not yet have probable cause to do so; all he had was a person and vehicle who, among many, matched the description of the robbery suspect.  What he did have was probable cause for a traffic stop, with two brake lights out, and he was proceeding from there.

People are dogging the NRA for not joining other groups who’ve made this shooting a cause célèbre. I think NRA made the right call in not doing so.  So does concealed carry and gun owners’ civil rights activist Miguel Gonzales, on his blog.

The naïve say, “If the cop wasn’t wrong, why did the city just give Castile’s mother an almost three million dollar settlement?” The cynic will answer, “Because, with a racially charged hot button issue, that’s cheaper than a major civil disturbance.”

There were two sides to this case. Having been both the citizen with a legal gun who was pulled over, and the cop doing the pullover, I’m a card carrying member of both tribes. I cannot find fault with this officer’s actions, within the totality of the circumstances.  I can and do find fault with those who ignore the totality of those circumstances.

Massad Ayoob


Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Well, damn.

We’d all had hopes that the current Supreme Court of the United States would review and overturn the Peruta decision, in which the Ninth Circuit had upheld the right of California authorities to issue concealed carry permits at will, rather than the growing modern norm of “shall issue.”  I for one was surprised when SCOTUS denied cert.  The brilliant dissent of Justice Clarence Thomas is here:  A tip of the hat to TN_Man, a regular commenter on this blog, who was the first to post it here.

Dave Workman is an old friend and a keen observer and analyst of 2A issues.  His take on the matter is here:

Another long-time fighter for gun owners’ civil rights, David Hardy, weighs in here:

There is no more outspoken advocate for 2A rights than David Codrea, who comments here:

My own take?  In too many jurisdictions, “may issue” – still the California standard – has become a synonym for “We’ll grant you the permit if you’re white, male, rich and politically connected.”  In Northern California, several elected sheriffs have gone with a de facto Shall Issue policy, and as has happened everywhere else, predictions of blood running in the streets have been proven wrong.

Under “may issue,” there are generally two standards commonly cited for granting the permit.  One is “the applicant carries large amounts of money or other valuables and is at higher risk for armed robbery.”  That’s certainly a good reason, but a tenet of American law is that life is of much greater value than “mere property” including cash.  The reason we are allowed to use deadly force against armed robbers is the accompanying threat to the victim’s life, not the cash in their pocket or bank deposit bag.  We live in a world where people are robbed and murdered for their running shoes, for God’s sake.

The other most commonly cited reason for granting the permit in May Issue states is credible death threats to the applicant.  Waiting for the death threat misses entirely the point of carrying a defensive firearm.  You don’t wait to buy a fire extinguisher for your car until the first wisps of smoke drift up from under the dashboard; it’s too late.  In the same vein, waiting to apply for a permit to carry a gun to protect yourself and your loved one is likely to leave you unarmed and helpless when the danger first strikes.

Shall Issue, now the prevailing norm, should be the universal norm, and there are good reasons why more than a dozen states now have gone a step farther and dispensed with the permit, allowing permitless carry (a/k/a Constitutional Carry) for all law-abiding citizens.

It is sad that SCOTUS turned down this opportunity to rectify this very real public safety concern.

Massad Ayoob


Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

The Pin Shoot I’ve been talking about the last couple of entries is in the history books now. Great time had by all.  Only about 140 or so shooters, when in the old days it was hundreds, but after a near twenty-year layoff, the word many not have gone out soon enough. On awards night, I lost count of the prize guns somewhere around sixty or so.

Notable points: Kimberly Heath lowered the overall testosterone level when she won the Concealed Carry event shooting a micro-size 1911 .45.  Nothing new for her: she was overall winner at the National Patrol Rifle Championships a few months ago too.  She and her husband Jeff Chudwin, a several time NPRC winner himself, dominated the two-person rifle event.  No surprise there, either.

Old friend Pat Sweeney, Handgun Editor for Guns & Ammo, upheld the honor of gun writers better than I did, winning a bunch of guns and the overall victory in the revolver match, which requires eight bowling pins to be blown away with a mandatory reload after the first six shots.

Lots of folks brought their kids, and old folks brought adult children.  Ashley Gibbons was in a stroller when her mom and dad brought her to the shoot the first time in the late 1970s; for this one, she was there pushing the stroller instead of riding it, with her adorable nine-month-old twins Lily and Madeleine.  And, of course, her parents.  Three generations at once – yes!

This week was the first time I saw Jerry Moran, the past master of Colt Python action jobs, in about forty years.  He had never met Denny Reichard, whose Smith & Wesson revolver action work today is unexcelled in my opinion.  One of the pleasures of my life is introducing people who will benefit from knowing each other.  I introduced these two, and their conversation that ensued would hold any revolver enthusiast rapt.  I wish I had thought to record it.

Shooting competitions aren’t just about the shooting.  They’re about the people, too.  Hell, I can shoot at home; I go mainly for the people.

Same place next year, along about the second week in June. Keep an eye on their website,

Kimberly Heath, here with full size 1911, shows the form she used to win the Concealed Carry event with a smaller .45.

Sara Campos shoots two-person team with her dad, a regular pin shooter in Ye Olde Days.

Rich Davis, founder of the shoot from its earliest days and rangemaster now, autographs the Second Chance (his old company) toddler size tee shirt Ashley Gibbons wore when she first came to the shoot as a rug rat.

Here’s Ash at the shoot this week, with her own twins — future shooters, no doubt.

Revolver mavens Denny Reichard, (S&W guy,left) and Jerry Moran (Colt guy, right) talking shop in the pavilion at the shoot.

The prize tables were piled deep with guns and other goodies at The Pin Shoot.


Massad Ayoob


Friday, June 16th, 2017

As I write this, the last day of The Pin Shoot dawns. It has been a reunion for a lot of us shooters, many of whom haven’t seen each other in almost 20 years after two dozen years of shooting pins every year here in Central Lake, Michigan. We respectfully and wistfully discuss our fellow shooters who have passed in the interim, and get caught up after the long hiatus.


In the previous blog entry here, James Pritchett commented, “…any practice is good practice. Seems I remember a young, early teens maybe, giving everyone a severe whipping in clearing the table.” Brother Pritchett has a good memory. That would be Johnny Robbins, circa 1977 and thirteen years old at the time, who smoked us all with a 3.9 second run to react to the start signal, come up with a .45, and blow five pins a yard back off the table 25 feet away, the time being stopped when the last pin hit the ground.


Time has passed. John is retired now! He was there at the shoot, and shot some damn fine runs. As a boy batching it with a great single dad, they shot the “pro tour circuit” of the time together. We lost Jack Robbins, Sr. altogether too soon to cancer, but I like to think that somewhere, Jack Robbins is smiling this week.


It all wraps up tonight at an awards ceremony. It is good to see this iconic event back in business. Met some Backwoods Home readers there this year, and hope to see more in 2018.

With Rosanna and Randy Ray. Randy is an old-time pin shooter and a regular here at the blog.

Rosanna Ray, Randy Ray and Massad Ayoob at the Pin Shoot 2007

Forty years later, now retired, John Robbins shows the form he used to win the match overall when he was thirteen.

Johnny Robbins at the Pin Shoot 2007

Denny Reichard manages the recoil of S&W .500 Magnum as he blows the last of 3 pins 14.5 feet backward in new event, The Big Push. He is in second place by a tenth of a second at this writing.

Denny Reichard shooting the Big Push at the Pin Shoot 2017

Estrogen power! Front to back, Gail Pepin with Springfield XD .45 GAP pistol, and Deb Higgins and Bonnie Young with 12 gauge shotguns, destroy two dozen bowling pins at once.

Gail Pepin at the Pin Shoot 2017

Massad Ayoob


Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Old gunnies will remember the great Second Chance bowling pin match, with events for handguns, rifles, and shotguns, that ran from the mid-1970s to 1998.  It’s back this week, at its old location in the quaint resort town of Central Lake, Michigan.Pin Shoot

It’s good to drive into a town under a banner that sweeps across the street saying, “WELCOME SHOOTERS.”

The match was founded by Richard Davis, the inventor of concealable soft body armor, who started the Second Chance company. He long since sold Second Chance and retired, but his son Matt is the CEO of Armor Express, also located in Central Lake.  It’s the brand I wear, and the brand that saved guest speaker Brian Murphy, who survived being shot fifteen times during the Sikh Temple massacre in Wisconsin a few years ago.

Lots of old friends here, kind of an “old home day.”  More to come as we share the fun with ya.

Wish you were here.

Pin Shoot Range

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