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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Massad Ayoob


Sunday, August 6th, 2017

I just finished reading “Shots Fired” by Joseph Loughlin and Kate Clark Flora. It will be available in the fall from Skyhorse Press. They are, respectively, a retired assistant chief of the Portland, Maine Police Department and SWAT team commander, and a renowned true crime writer. Their book is a police-eye view of law enforcement use of force issues today, seen in the macrocosm of social issues and the microcosm of what it’s like to be the cop who has to pull the trigger.  At the core of the book, we hear in their own words from law enforcement officers who have “been there.” These include several of the officers who faced down the bullets and thrown explosives of the Boston Bombers.


Here’s an example of the authors’ perspective: “It has unfortunately become the norm, in our fast-paced, media-driven world, that use of force cases and particularly deadly force cases, are routinely misreported. Far too often, when there is a deadly event in an officer-involved shooting, irresponsible reporters, misinformed advocates, and publicity-seeking politicians exacerbate the situation by writing stories or taking public positions prior to receiving any solid information. As a result, the public understanding is based on a dis­torted view rather than careful investigation and fact-finding.”


“Shots Fired” is educational for anyone who reads it with an open mind instead of a political identity agenda. Here, the authors explain why it may seem to the general public that courts “take the cops’ word” for things:


“The Supreme Court has stressed the importance of recognizing the judgment of the individual officer in the situation: ‘when used by trained law enforcement officers, objective facts, meaningless to the untrained, [may permit] inferences and deductions that might well elude an untrained person.’”


They continue, “In practice, when a court evaluates the conduct of an officer, it ‘must avoid substituting our personal notions of proper police proce­dures for the instantaneous decision of the officer on the scene,’ and, ‘When a jury measures the objective reasonableness of an officer’s action, it must stand in his shoes and judge his actions based upon the information he possessed.’”  — United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, at 418 (1980).


“Shots Fired” by Loughlin and Flora is a valuable addition to the literature of use of force, and a breath of fresh air and common sense in the current debate.”

Massad Ayoob


Friday, July 21st, 2017

Charlton Heston knew Martin Luther King, and marched alongside him for the civil rights of African-Americans.  Sadly, the American Left was blinded to that when he became a spokesman for, and later president of, the National Rifle Association.

I recently picked up the excellent biography “Charlton Heston: Hollywood’s Last Icon” by Marc Eliot.  In his acknowledgements, Eliot writes, “Grover Norquist gave me an overview of Heston’s involvement with the NRA and a frank assessment of what he thought about the ostracism that followed.” Yes, ostracism seems to be the correct word.

Writes Eliot, “On April 10, 1989, an (NRA) advertisement appeared in Newsweek that pictured a smiling Heston.”  It was his first “outing” as a supporter of gun owners’ civil rights, via the NRA. Eliot: “The fallout was immediate and mostly negative in Hollywood, as he suspected it would be.”  Heston, who had served for two years aboard a B-25 bomber during World War II, had been extremely proud of his high position with the American Film institute.  Eliot continues, “Not long after (the Newsweek blurb appeared), he called Jean Firstenberg. Here is how she remembered that call. ‘He was still on the masthead of the AFI as (a former) president and it meant a great deal to him, but that day he said to me, ‘Jeanie, if you want to take my name off the masthead, I understand.’ How thoughtful of him, knowing there was going to be a political backlash (because of the ad) and not wanting to hurt an organization he cared so deeply about. I never took his name off the masthead.’”

But, the biographer continues, “Most of Hollywood took him off theirs. The only real work he was able to get was a TV film…”

In 1998, the Left became even more choleric against Heston when he was elected President of NRA.  Prominent anti-gunner Josh Sugarmann poured vitriol on Heston and noted, “Whether Mr. Heston does the talking or not, the National Rifle Association remains the same extremist organization that blocks sensible gun laws and markets guns to children.” Heston continued with the NRA, living long enough to be sandbagged as a frail old man with developing Alzheimer’s, by that caricature of journalists, Michael Moore.

Charlton Heston passed a little more than nine years ago. Impartial historians will remember him as a fighter for civil rights, with Dr. King (himself a gun owner, by the way) and with the NRA.

He paid a high price for his ethics and his commitment to civil rights.  How many here have suffered ostracism – in the neighborhood, in the family, in the workplace, or elsewhere – for the same thing?  You are invited to share your experiences here.

Massad Ayoob


Monday, May 15th, 2017

The Evil Princess reminds me that there’s another new book out this week, my own latest.  I think of it as my “Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence” book.  Teaching at venues like the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association and the annual Rangemaster Tactical Conference, I’ve been able to get to know – and pick the brains of – the best and the brightest of subject matter experts in the world of threat management.  Thanks to those folks, the new book coming out this week is a most useful compendium, if I do say so myself.  Here’s what the publishers, the Gun Digest folks, have to say about it:


Straight Talk on Armed Defense


Acquiring a defensive firearm and a concealed carry permit is only one very small part of the armed lifestyle equation. Straight Talk on Armed Defense equips you with the knowledge to responsibly defend yourself and those you love.


This volume gathers the advice of Massad Ayoob and 11 other highly respected armed-defense authorities to deliver decades of information from one convenient source. You will come away with a solid grasp on how to avoid becoming a victim, the mental make up of assailants, the psychological preparation for self-defense, the legal details of using deadly force, post-incident trauma management and much, much more.

  • John Hearne takes us “inside the defender’s head” and reveals the most effective route to train and prepare for self-defense incidents.
  • Dr. Anthony Semone discusses post-shooting trauma and necessary steps to develop resilience and symptom reduction following a deadly force event.
  • Dr. Alexis Artwohl explains why understanding how the mind operates is critical to surviving an attack and the legal and emotional challenges that follow.
  • Dr. William Aprill describes “the face of the enemy” to help us understand violence and those who traffic in it.
  • Craig “Southnarc” Douglas details the conditions present during the typical criminal assault and how to incorporate those conditions into your training.
  • Massad Ayoob discusses power, responsibility and the armed lifestyle.
  • Tom Givens underscores the importance of finding relevant training, through case studies of his own students involved in armed encounters.
  • “Spencer Blue,” active robbery/homicide detective, reveals patterns that emerged during his investigations and describes the differences in tactics of citizens who won versus those who lost.
  • Ron Borsch presents dozens of actual cases of armed and unarmed citizens single-handedly stopping mass murders in progress.
  • Harvey Hedden provides insight and advice on lawfully armed citizens and interactions with law enforcement.
  • Jim Fleming, Esq. describes the criminal trial process and how it plays out in a “righteous use of deadly force in self-defense” case.
  • Marty Hayes, JD, provides the critical questions that must be asked to choose a reliable post-self-defense incident support provider.


EDITED TO ADD: Should be available jUNE 8 from Amazon, BUT AVAILABLE NOW FROM .

Massad Ayoob


Monday, February 13th, 2017

Etymotic (high definition) active ear plugs ain’t your daddy’s ear plugs.  I finally got around to testing GunSport Pro GSP-15 plugs from Etymotic Reseasrch, Inc. of Elk Grove Village, IL. Each fitted with a teeny battery, the set comes with an assortment of Accu-Fit ™ shapes so you can find the one that best fits your own ears.  For me, the LRG gave a superb fit, as if custom made for me.


I have been told by audiologists that a significant amount of the damaging sound waves that cause the cumulative high-range hearing loss known colloquially as “shooter’s ear” come in the form of vibrations through surrounding bone, which plugs alone can’t stop. Muffs are better in that regard, but the stems of requisite protective eyewear can break the seal of the muffs, and plugs are a very good fallback.  Most of us “in the business” will “double up” and use plugs and muffs simultaneously when shooting high powered rifles or particularly loud handguns.


Active hearing protection isn’t just a luxury, it’s a safety thing. As an expert witness in weapons related court cases since 1979, I’ve run across a number of fatal or injury-producing accidents that could have been prevented if the instructor or range officer on the firing line could have heard, over the gunfire, the sounds of someone struggling with a jammed gun, or cursing under his breath, or something similar.

So, I tried the Etymotic plugs with muffs. Ordinary passive muffs – “dead muffs,” if you will – didn’t allow enough sound to get through for my already-somewhat-impaired ears to hear conversations on the firing line.  I tried them next under active muffs from Walker, and got pretty much the same comforting attenuation of loud sounds but amplification of small ones that we buy active hearing protection for in the first place. No feedback was noticed by me or those around me when I shot with both Etymotic plugs and active muffs turned on simultaneously.

I appreciate the active hearing protection of this product with the convenience of tiny size and pocket carry. They’re also good for those who just can’t bear to wear muffs, or find that muffs interfere with their rifle or shotgun stock.  Price is $299 MSRP.  I can see a future for these as part of my personal shooting kit.  Info at

The product:

Etymotic wisely sells the plugs with a selection of buds to fit different ears. These are the ones that worked best for Mas.

The amplified plugs are adjustable for “HI” and “LO.”

I started with a .22, a Smith & Wesson Model 18 with the classic old Pro-Point red dot sight.

“Hey! These plugs work pretty darn well!”


Short barrel .38s like this J-frame S&W can be loud, but the Etymotics handled it well.

Tried them in tandem with muffs, too.

Muffs don’t fit in your shirt pocket. Etymotic plugs do.

Massad Ayoob


Friday, January 20th, 2017

The mood was upbeat at this next to last day of the SHOT Show as we awaited the January 20 inauguration of the most pro-gun President since maybe, oh, Theodore Roosevelt.

Interesting gun news: it was announced today that the Army will adopt as its new pistol the SIG P320. The announcement comes as a surprise to many.  The Glock 9mm had been seen as the front-runner.  After all, though, the contract was for an MHS – Modular Handgun System – and the P320 with convertibility in size and even caliber is as modular as the state of the art offers right now.  The Army is also very big on manual safeties. That’s an option on the P320, and while this feature is not mentioned in the press releases thus far, photos accompanying the releases depict P320s with ambidextrous thumb safeties.

Lotsa new stuff this year.  Some is good new stuff.  Case in point: the MantisX Training System. It’s a module that slides onto your firearm’s accessory rail and coordinates with your Apple or Android device. Live fire or dry fire, aim at something and shoot. You’ll get a readout of how smooth and consistent your trigger pull was and, in the last instant, registers where even a “shot from an empty gun” would have hit. It tracks gun movement the whole time.  The police department I serve IS gonna have one of these!

Some of the new stuff is…well…remember the classic gun book from 1955,“Firearms Curiosa” by Lewis Winant, with items like palm pistols and belt buckle guns?  If Mr. Winant had been around to attend the 2017 SHOT Show, he would have found enough material for at least one new chapter.

There was a customized folding semiautomatic pistol in two variants, one of which when unfolded turned into a Glock with no trigger guard.  There was an updated version of the pre-WWII Mossberg Brownie pistol with six barrels instead of four, which fires two .25 Auto barrels per pull of the trigger. The Evil Princess was particularly horrified by a holster that she and I figure can cost the shooter his or her life in at least three different ways. (1) The safety strap appears to be narrow enough to enter the trigger guard upon reholstering, causing the pistol to discharge as it is pushed the rest of the way into the scabbard. (2) That Velcro-closed strap, when secured on a holster designed to be worn inside the waistband, goes to the bottom of the holster requiring the shooter to reach so deeply down into his or her pants that they’re unlikely to be able to get a proper hold on it to pull it clear if they have to draw to save their life. (3) The holster is demonstrated with that safety strap going over the back of the grip panel, so with a proper drawing grasp, the web of the hand is likely to hold the strap against the gun and trap the pistol so it can’t be drawn readily in self-defense.

Overall, though, there was lots of good stuff, and a total “kid in the candy store” element for any gun enthusiast lucky enough to cruise the miles of aisles. Evil Princess logged five and a half miles on her FItBit at the Show today. I spent more than half the day in meetings and was spared some of that exercise. Lucky me.

SIG P320 with factory optional ambidextrous manual safety.

The compact MantisX training system is a stone cold bargain at around $150.

MantisX firearms Training System

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