Top Navigation  
U.S. Flag waving
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418
Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues

 Kindle Subscriptions
 Kindle Publications
 Back Issues
 Discount Books
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

 BHM Forum
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Lost Password
 Write For BHM

Link to BHM

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.

Archive for the ‘Legal Issues’ Category

Massad Ayoob


Friday, July 14th, 2017

Conventional wisdom has long held that after a self-defense shooting, the shooter should say nothing to police except, “I want a lawyer.”  The problem with that is, it’s exactly what genuine bad guys say to the police and is highly likely to lead to an arrest, which sets the tone for how the criminal justice system is going to handle things thereafter.

Veteran street cop Greg Ellifritz is, in my opinion, one of the sharpest of today’s trainers, and he takes a more practical approach, as I do.  See it here in his excellent blog, which I think should be regular reading for anyone serious about self-defense.

The commentary from his readers is interesting. Some is on point and some, I think, not.

Here, I’m interested in YOUR thoughts on the topic.

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


Sunday, June 4th, 2017

It is good to read a letter from a prosecutor to the defense lawyer that says, “Since meeting with you and your client I have personally undertaken a thorough review of this matter and am dismissing the charges against your client…Please find enclosed the Nolle Prosequi.”

Last month, about four cases cleared from my personal expert witness docket without having to go to trial.  This one, in the Southeast, involved a murder charge against a woman whose estranged husband had pounced her from the back seat of the car and was strangling her from behind when she drew the handgun she was licensed to carry and fired over her shoulder, ending the assault. The charges had been brought by a senior prosecutor infamous for her obvious dislike of armed citizens. That prosecutor lost the last election.  A highly competent defense lawyer sat down with the prosecutor from the new administration, who took her role as minister of justice seriously.  Kudos to the defense lawyer and prosecutor alike.

Out West, an idiot show-off bully wielded a gun to intimidate a professional rival. He claimed it “went off accidentally” and that he had never fired it before. The bullet inflicted a grievous, personal injury. I was retained by the plaintiff.  The defendant’s insurance company caved and settled for the max of the policy, a couple million dollars. Case closed.

In the heartland, a burglar attacked an armed homeowner who caught him in the act. Bad move: the armed citizen shot and killed him. His survivors sued.  For much less than cost of trial, the case was settled. How much? I figure after the plaintiff’s lawyers take their cut, their clients will get enough money to buy a nice lawnmower.  Full trial might have gone over $100,000; my fee as expert witness for the homeowner’s side would have been among the least of that.

Not far from that one, a manslaughter charge against a homeowner who’d killed a burglar was dropped in return for a plea to a misdemeanor, again saving the ordeal and six-figure expense of trial.  The respected defense lawyer who had retained me had shown all his cards to a respected prosecutor, and the latter had made a decision both sides were happy with.

There’s an analogy between gunfights and court fights.  History shows that when a stalwart, competent cop or civilian alike point a gun at a violent criminal and make it clear that if the assault continues, the criminal will die, the criminal generally surrenders or flees.  When a stalwart, competent legal defense team faces an unmeritorious allegation with facts, the lawyers on the other side often have the same epiphany: realizing they can’t win, they either offer an acceptable compromise or drop the matter entirely.

For the most part, the system works.  Thus the old saying among lawyers: “In the halls of justice, most of the justice is in the halls.”

Massad Ayoob


Friday, May 5th, 2017

For years, I’ve warned people that there are a couple of serious concerns with using handloaded ammunition for personal or home defense.  The big one is forensic replicability when the shooter is accused, and opposing theories of distance become a factor.

How often does this happen? One time some years ago, that question came up on an internet debate.  I looked through the ten cases I had pending at the time as an expert witness, and gunshot residue (GSR) testing to determine distance from gun muzzle to the person shot was an issue in four of them.  Forty percent is not what I’d call statistically insignificant.

I’ve found this to be perhaps the most visceral and contentious of gun forum debates. When I suggest to someone that the ammo he crafted himself might be a handicap in court, it’s as if they had just prepared a Thanksgiving feast for their family from scratch, and I’d told them “Don’t poison your family with that crap, go out and buy them some KFC.”

They react as if you had told them they had ugly babies.

Here are two very good writeups, at least one by an attorney, explaining how and why handloaded ammunition can muddy the waters if and when you find yourself in court after a self-defense shooting:


Read, and if you have any friends who use handloads for serious social purposes, please share. You might just save them from the sort of nightmare suffered by the defendant in New Jersey v. Daniel Bias, who was bankrupted by legal fees before the first of his three trials was over, and wound up serving hard time.  Both of his attorneys were convinced he was innocent, and told me they believed that if he had simply had factory ammo in his home defense gun, the case would probably never have even gone to trial.

Discussion is invited here, but PLEASE, read and absorb the two links before posting.

Massad Ayoob


Thursday, March 30th, 2017
National Public Radio just did this story on the International Association of Chiefs of Police conditionally approving warning shots, which have long been verboten in American police work. Not mentioned in the article is one of IACP’s caveats, that the warning shot should be fired only in situations that would otherwise warrant deadly force.
My take on it is in the NPR story, linked here.
I’m interested in all y’all’s opinion on it, including relevant experiences.
Copyright © 1998 - Present by Backwoods Home Magazine. All Rights Reserved.