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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Massad Ayoob


Sunday, August 9th, 2015

It’s always a pleasure to meet a favorite author.  This past week, I was able to introduce my class to Stephen Hunter, who pens the Bob Lee Swagger series and is, unquestionably, more knowledgeable about firearms and their use than anyone else writing in mainstream fiction today.  I’ve corresponded with him for years, but this was my first opportunity to meet the man face to face.

As intelligent in conversation as he is in print, Steve in the flesh is a down-to-earth regular guy, and very much One Of Us.  The class loved his commentary on the interface between the gun culture and the mainstream media today, a topic he is eminently qualified to discuss by virtue of his many years at the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post, from which he is now retired.

If you haven’t read Hunter’s work, do yourself a favor and dip your toe in that water. I enjoyed his first book, “The Master Sniper,” back around 1980 when the publisher sent me a review copy, but he had me at “Dirty White Boys.”  That said, my single favorite is his non-fiction “American Gunfight,” a deeply and superbly researched account of the attempted assassination of President Harry Truman.

Now, I just have to meet Larry Correia, who is to science fiction what Stephen Hunter is to mainstream novels…

This is the class…

MAG40 PA 2015


…that got to meet Stephen Hunter.


Massad Ayoob


Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

It was supposedly Samuel Taylor Coleridge, circa 1817, who first wrote that enjoying fictional entertainment required “a willing suspension of disbelief.”  I was reminded of that yesterday when, in a rare day that didn’t require class, court, or conveyance, the Evil Princess and I took half an afternoon off to go into a movie theater (we vaguely remembered having done so in the past) and watching “Jurassic World.”

Now, I’ll try like hell not to say anything that might spoil it for you, but as Backwoods Home’s resident gun guy, I need to warn you that you’ll have to willingly suspend your disbelief as to how a lever action rifle such as the Marlin Guide Gun can be fired, not to mention the “less-lethal weapons” stuff.  That aside, though, it’s a pretty cool movie.

Mainly, it flashed me back to a theater in Michigan in the early 1990s where some friends and I saw the first “Jurassic Park” movie.  Then as with this new version, it was the super-hot new movie of the season, and Time and Newsweek  and such were saying that it was so scary that parents should preview it before letting their kids see it.  My daughters were eager to catch that flick, and the youngest was about eight, so I felt duty-bound to check it out beforehand.

Good Lord…what a validation for those of us who are responsibly armed!

In that first “Jurassic Park,” those people had a good idea what they were getting into before they got there, and still went unarmed…and paid the price.  The time-proven FN FAL 7.62mm semiautomatic battle rifles and the SPAS-12 semiautomatic shotguns were kept in an armory, accessible only to the privileged elite (an allegory here, maybe?) when the dinosaurs started taking over.  Soon, there were some human body parts laying next to a jammed SPAS-12; being familiar with that particular weapon, I thought “Hey – that’s real!”

Throughout the movie, this or that T-rex was chasing folks and I found myself thinking, “The .458 Magnum elephant rifle I took to Africa would drop one of those.”  I know people who’d pay a king’s ransom to hunt a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Central America. As the packed theater audience cringed with “oohs” and “aahs” I thought, “What’s you people’s problem? Shoot the effing lizards!”

One character described the ominous characteristics of the Velociraptors: about six feet long with tough, leathery skin and sharp fangs and claws.  I actually pulled my concealing garment back as I sat in the theater and looked down at the Colt .45 automatic in my holster, and saw the reassuring little green eyes of the Trijicon rear night-sight look back up at me.  Six feet tall? Leather jacket? Multiple edged weapons? All over America, cops and law-abiding armed citizens deal with that every day with gear like what I’ve got on in this theater in 1993!

And, OMG, the ending of the original “Jurassic Park.”  For what I later counted as nine minutes or so, two poor little kids struggle desperately to stay ahead of the Velociraptors before their deux ex machina rescue. I knew then and there that if those children were my kick-ass daughters, they would have long since found their way into their armory and availed themselves of a couple of FN FALs.  When the Velociraptors kicked in the door on them, there would have been a short burst of well-directed, high-powered gunfire, and my kids would have spent the rest of those nine minutes asking each other, “How many purses and shoes and belts do you think we can make out of these suckers?”

Massad Ayoob


Sunday, June 7th, 2015

Mas Ayoob - Brian KolnarRecently got to see a man I’ve been out of touch with for 17 years.  I first met Bryant Kolner in 1998, when he had to shoot a man.  He was an off-duty policeman on his way to work when he stopped to do a good deed, and the next thing he knew a guy was trying to club him to death with a baseball bat.  Bryant drew his department issue S&W .45 and spun the guy to the ground with three 230 grain Gold Dot bullets.  The shooting went before a grand jury. I was contacted by deputy Kolner’s defense attorney, the very capable Fred Rench, and was allowed to address that grand jury by a fair-minded district attorney, Jim Murphy.  The outcome was that the grand jury cleared the officer, and indicted his attacker for felonious assault, to which he pled guilty. An account of the shooting and its aftermath later appeared in the Ayoob Files section at American Handgunner magazine.

Time went on.  Bryant changed departments.  He led his agency in number of arrests.  The time came when, running up an icy driveway to the aid of a battered woman, his feet went out from under him and he suffered a severe line-of-duty injury later exacerbated by medical malpractice.  In the end, he wound up having to leave the job he loved, based on the physical disability.

But, you can’t keep a good man down.  Today his job is representing the interests of retired safety personnel.  Working for the benefit of good people is just part of some folks’ nature.

It’s good to be able to touch the lives of people like Bryant Kolner.

Massad Ayoob


Friday, May 29th, 2015

My “Ayoob Files” continuing series in American Handgunner magazine covers in the current issue the legendary 1884 siege in which Elfego Baca holed up with a pair of revolvers and held off a vengeful gang of cowboys who pumped some 4,000 bullets into the shack where he had taken refuge.  Unlikely as it sounds, history shows that’s pretty much how the thing went down.

In researching the shootout, I followed up on Baca’s later life, which included time as an elected county sheriff, and as an attorney.  (And a few more gunfights.)  It turns out that Baca was an innovative fellow.

In one case, as sheriff he was conducting a murder investigation.  Fresh human feces were found near the death scene.  He instructed a deputy to collect it and put it in a tin can.  Before long, he came upon a likely suspect, who became so nervous during Baca’s interrogation that he felt a sudden urge to relieve himself.  Baca allowed him to do so, and then once again ordered a deputy to “can it,” so to speak.

An unusual pattern of chili seeds was present in both fecal samples.  There was no DNA testing in those days, of course, but by the standards of the time, Baca’s thinking was positively Sherlockian.  Today, it would be seen as crappy evidence in more ways than one and might not meet the standard of a “reasonable degree of scientific certainty,” but back then it was enough to convict the suspect of murder.

Forgive a crude reference from common parlance, but one could say that Sheriff Elfego Baca was certainly a lawman who knew his shit.

Massad Ayoob


Monday, May 25th, 2015

On this somber day of observance, our friends at Galco remind us of a quote from General George S. Patton: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men that died. Rather that we should thank God that such men lived.”

And my colleagues at Second Amendment Foundation remind us of the seminal moment “the Revolutionary War was ignited by the battles of Lexington and Concord, when British troops under General Thomas Gage were dispatched to seize arms and ammunition belonging to the colonial militia, and destroy it.”

Exercising the rights our forebears died to preserve seems an appropriate way to celebrate Memorial Day.  Before the day is over I’ll join a “shooting party” at the range of Herman Gunter, III.  I hope you, too, can get some meaningful time in to honor those who died to preserve the American way of life.



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