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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.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Massad Ayoob


Monday, January 12th, 2015

The recent atrocity in Paris reminds us all of the continuing danger from homicidal fanatics.  The cowardly murderers ran rampant, unopposed; according to some reports, one or both of the police officers killed in the massacre were unarmed and helpless to fight back.

President Obama is taking a lot of heat for not flying to Paris to join a reported 40 other heads of state in a show of solidarity.  This is one thing I won’t criticize the man for. If I were head of Secret Service I would have stood in the Oval Office and screamed at him, “It’s nucking futs! Can you imagine a more irresistible target for Islamic terrorists than forty-one of you, including the head of the Great Satan itself?!?”  I’m frankly amazed that there wasn’t an attack on the gathering, though I’m glad there wasn’t…and if the free world’s security services are smart, they won’t tell us if there was such a conspiracy and they were able to successfully abort it behind the scenes.

Could it have helped if someone in the Charlie Hedbo offices had been able to shoot back? No guarantees, but it damn sure wouldn’t have hurt!  My take on the matter is mentioned here among others’ .

I was able to discuss the concept earlier in more depth here, in this very Backwoods Home blog , and here in Backwoods Home Magazine .

The prohibitionists and anti-self-defense groups will scoff at the idea that one or more people with handguns among the crop of victims might have thwarted two men who wielded AK47s. They don’t want to hear about Charl van Wyk, who stopped twice that many in a South African attack, armed only with his five-shot snub-nose .38 revolver. You can read about his case and more – and about dozens of helpless victims murdered when there wasn’t “a good guy (or gal) with a gun” to stand up for them – in the current issue of American Handgunner magazine: .

The authorities expect more such attacks throughout the free world and, yes, here.  My advice is load, holster, and be ready.

It’s not about the odds…it’s about the stakes.

That’s enough about what I think. I want to hear what YOU think about this.

Massad Ayoob


Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Last year, a man ran amok in a mental health facility in Pennsylvania. He murdered one victim and wounded a doctor before the doc drew his own small caliber pistol and shot the guy, stopping what might well have been a mass murder.  The doc was not in compliance with the gun-free zone policy of the clinic.  After the police pointed out how many lives he had saved, that problem sort of went away…

John Gavazzi runs an excellent podcast for ethicists and psychologists, called – appropriately enough – Ethics and Psychology.


I appeared on there recently when the topic in the first paragraph above was on the menu.  As a subject matter expert on deadly force, I was the only one on the podcast panel who was not a psychologist.  Yes, you could say I was…shrink-wrapped. The podcast linked above runs about an hour.

I thought the topic was covered well; if you have an hour to spare, you can find it here:

I was one of three speakers who addressed the gun-free zone issue last September at the Gun Rights Policy Conference in Chicago, hosted by Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the Second Amendment foundation.  If you have 40-45 minutes, those presentations can be found here:

And yes, I still say “gun-free zone” translates into “hunting preserve for psychopaths who hunt humans.”

Massad Ayoob


Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Mark Walters’ nationally syndicated radio show and podcast, Armed American Radio, is one of my favorites.  I’m a regular listener and an occasional guest.  This past Sunday night, after Mark had completed one of my two-day, twenty-hour MAG-20 Armed Citizens Rules of Engagement courses, I joined him on the show along with Claude Werner, The Tactical Professor, who hosted the class in Atlanta.  Other scheduled guests included Gail Pepin, Amber Kunau, Beth Alcazar, and famed instructor Rob Pincus.

During the second hour, listeners got an unexpected surprise guest: George Zimmerman called in.

If you’ve ever heard the Internet BS of “a good shoot is a good shoot” or “if you’re acquitted, nothing else matters,” you’ll appreciate the reality of what Mr. Zimmerman had to say. He spoke in detail about how profoundly the massive media campaign against him, and of course the ordeal of the court proceeding itself, impacted him and his family.  That impact is still huge, still cruel, and yes, still ongoing.

This is, to my knowledge, the first time George Zimmerman has discussed this side of things publicly.

George Zimmerman’s comments can be heard in the second hour of the three hour show, here:

The entire three hour show (mostly self-defense issues in the first hour, and mostly women’s gun selection and self-defense issues in the third hour with the three famous female authorities), are available if you download the entire podcast at:

Thanks to Mark Walters and his sponsors for making this much needed dose of reality available to a nation which was widely lied to in regard to this matter.

Massad Ayoob


Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

The grand jury concept has been much in the news of late.  People with axes to grind (including multiple talking heads on CNN) decry the fact that grand juries in Missouri and New  York exonerated the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson and the one who grabbed Eric Garner and pulled him to the sidewalk in NYC.  Benjamin Crump, the plaintiffs’ attorney for the families in the Brown case, the Garner case, and the Trayvon Martin death before that, has called for a prosecutor to indict without sending the case to the grand jury in yet another racially –charged case.

I know many defense lawyers – and many citizens from the far left to the far right – who hate the grand jury system and believe it should be abolished.  Having worked within the American criminal justice system in one way or another for more than four decades – as arresting officer, as police department prosecutor, as expert witness for both sides – I have to profoundly disagree.

When people hear the word “jury,” they think of the regular, “petit” jury: normally six to twelve people with some alternates as “spares” who determine guilt or innocence in a full-blown criminal trial, or apportion responsibility between plaintiff and defendant in the trial of a civil lawsuit. The grand jury is exclusive to the criminal side of the justice house, and is called by the prosecutor to determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, or at least, enough question thereof that the matter should be sorted out in a full-blown trial.  The grand jury will return either a “true bill,” which means that the person in question is now a defendant, stands indicted, and is fully inserted into the gullet of the criminal justice machine, or “no true bill,” which essentially exonerates the potential defendant, though that’s not exactly 100% because the prosecutor can usually re-file the case.

The grand jury is the province of the prosecutor. Often, a defense lawyer for the “person of interest” won’t even be allowed in the room, and if he is, he won’t be allowed to advocate for his client. This is what led to the famous saying that “a prosecutor can convince a jury to indict a ham sandwich.” The members of the grand jury hear what the prosecutor allows them to hear.  This is what ticks off absolutists on both far left and far right.

And of course, if you are the one who wants to lead the lynch mob that hangs the defendant, you’ll be ROYALLY pissed off if the prosecutor actually allows exculpatory evidence which convinces his or her fellow citizens to return “no true bill.”  This is apparently why Benjamin Crump does not want people he hopes to pillory to go in front of grand juries, and it is why CNN’s Sunny Hostin, a former prosecutor herself, was outraged that exculpatory evidence was presented to the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri.

Having been on both sides of this two-way street, I support the grand jury concept, and I applaud prosecutors who perform their duty as ministers of justice to allow exculpatory evidence (indicative of innocence) to go before the grand jurors as well as inculpatory evidence (indicative of guilt).  Their job is as much to exonerate the innocent as it is to prosecute the guilty.

Some say, “But if the prosecutor is the sole arbiter of the evidence, he can get anyone he wants indicted!”  To which I say, “SO WHAT?”

Please understand: IN MOST JURISDICTIONS, THE PROSECUTOR CAN INDICT ON HIS OR HER OWN WITHOUT A GRAND JURY ANYWAY, under what is generally called an “offer of information.”

In the cases currently under media scrutiny, the grand juries heard both sides of the story, while the public and the talking heads only heard one side’s narrative.  Before anyone joins in the howl of the lynch mob, they should ask themselves one question:  “If I was the one accused, would I want my side of the story and the evidence supporting me to be heard, before I was sent to trial in a case that would likely cost me six figures worth of dollars and incalculable suffering for myself and my family, before the decision was made to put me through that ordeal?”

The grand juries in the Brown death in Ferguson and the Garner death in New York did hear both sides.   Having heard that, they each issued no true bill.

I for one respect that, and the prosecutorial authorities who allowed those grand juries to hear both sides.

Massad Ayoob


Friday, November 28th, 2014

Much of America, including CNN’s Attorney Sunny Hostin, can’t seem to grasp how Officer Darren Wilson could have been justified in shooting an ostensibly unarmed man.  If Ms. Hostin got through law school without learning the definition of “disparity of force,” well, she wouldn’t be the first to do so.

DISPARITY OF FORCE is the legal principle which recognizes that even without a per se weapon, a violent attacker may have such a physical advantage over the intended victim that if the assault is allowed to continue, the totality of the circumstances indicate that the victim is likely to be killed or crippled. This authorizes the victim to use an actual deadly weapon in self-defense. That situation would exist if the attacker was significantly larger and/or stronger than the victim.  It would exist if the attacker had complete freedom of movement and leverage, and the victim did not, a situation known as “position of advantage.” Another element that could create disparity of force would be that the victim was already handicapped or injured, even in the course of the instant assault, impairing the victim’s ability to fight back, escape, or evade or block continuing blows.  ALL OF THESE WERE PRESENT WHEN THE 292-POUND MICHAEL BROWN WAS SMASHING OFFICER WILSON IN THE HEAD WHILE WILSON HAD VERY LIMITED RANGE OF MOVEMENT INSIDE THE PATROL CAR.

(There are other elements of disparity of force as well, such as male attacking female, multiple assailants attacking lone victim, and more, but none of them seem to have been in play in this encounter.)

This initial attack warranted Wilson drawing his gun and ordering Brown to get back or be shot. Then, Brown went for Wilson’s gun – as proven by bloodstain evidence and Brown’s DNA on the gun – and something else kicked in.  BROWN WAS REACHING FOR A GUN, and Wilson testified that Brown had turned the muzzle into Wilson and was trying to pull the trigger when Wilson shot him the first time.  This is no longer an unarmed man, it’s a man attempting to kill a cop with his own gun.  Thus, shooting him at that point was justified.

Brown ran. Wilson followed police protocol and pursued.  He testified that when Brown stopped and turned toward him, one of Brown’s hands went to his waistband as if to draw a gun of his own. This is apparently confirmed by Brown’s bloody handprint on that area of his own clothing.  This is what is called a FURTIVE MOVEMENT, in this case a movement consistent with going for a gun and not reasonably consistent with anything else, and at law satisfies the requirement of a reasonable belief that the opponent is armed with a deadly weapon and attempting to draw and use it.  This in and of itself, in assaultive circumstances where the opponent is close enough to kill you with such a weapon, justifies deadly force.  Simultaneously, he lunged toward Wilson according to the majority of credible eyewitness testimony, consistent with attempting to disarm him again, and was close enough to do so very quickly.  It was at this point that Wilson fired his second series of shots – and between the furtive movement and the forward attack, WAS JUSTIFIED IN DOING SO TWICE OVER.

After a short pause, witnesses for the most part agreed, Brown lunged again: another disarming attempt, which again justified shooting.  Wilson fired his third and final string of shots, Brown fell, and it was over.  Note that each time Brown stopped attacking, Wilson immediately stopped shooting.

These are facts which the grand jury must have taken into consideration.  These facts explain why the narrative of “unarmed teen shot by armed jack-booted thug” totally fails the reality test.

Feel free to share with others who, like Attorney Hostin, “just don’t get it” … or, perhaps, don’t want to.



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