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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.


Friday, January 9th, 2015 by Mas | 18 Comments »

I’ve become a fan of the “Freakonomics” books and podcasts. I like the way Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner apply critical thinking, logic, and “where the rubber meets the road” reality. So, it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed their newest book, “Think Like A Freak.” (Harper-Collins, 2014.)think-like-a-freak

These guys think in the big picture, using real world anecdotes to illustrate their points.  Readers can’t help but apply their thinking to our own issues. We gun owners wonder why, when even many high profile “gun control” advocates admitted the ten-year experiment of Bill Clinton’s national Assault Weapons Ban didn’t change a damn thing, the Bloombergs of today, more than 20 years later, still go after such things so ferociously. One answer may be found in “Think Like A Freak” at page 192 (hardcover edition): “Quitting is hard in part because it is equated with failure, and nobody likes to fail, or at least be seen failing.”

Levitt and Dubner urge us to look beyond the superficial, and get to root causes of bad things. They write, “In 1960, crime began a sudden climb. By 1980, the homicide rate had doubled, reaching a historic peak. For several years crime stayed perilously high but in the early 1990s, it began to fall and kept falling. So what happened?”  They explain in part, “Gun murders are down? Well, you figure, that must be from all those tough new gun laws – until you examine the data and find that most people who commit crimes with guns are almost entirely unaffected by current gun laws.” (Pages 67-68.)

We all know people who are smart and usually logical, but have an absolute blind spot when it comes to the gun issue, and insist on guzzling the Kool-Aid of anti-gun propaganda. What could account for that? For one thing, self-image.  We all want to think well of ourselves. In discussing the psychology of charity, Levitt and Dubner point out that people contribute to charities because “1. People are truly altruistic, driven by a desire to help others” or “2. Giving to charity makes them feel better about themselves; economists call this ‘warm-glow altruism.’”  In a similar vein, taking what looks like a life-saving position on an issue can give the same “warm-glow” effect. Combine that with Levitt/Dubner’s earlier explanation of why people resist the truth when they’re proven wrong, et voila: we have a piece of the psychological puzzle that explains why many normally logical people can’t see the absence of fact and logic in the “gun control” movement.

If you haven’t looked into the “Freakonomics” series, check it out.  These guys make people think.


Monday, January 5th, 2015 by Mas | 27 Comments »

Got a personal anniversary this week: January 8, 2005 was when I became the first five-gun master in IDPA.  The acronym stands for International Defensive Pistol Association, and until January ’05, there were four handgun divisions. They were Stock Service Pistol for double action or striker-fired (like the Glock), 9mm or larger caliber; Enhanced Service Pistol, encompassing the above plus single action autos, those with modified grip-frames and enlarged magazine wells, etc.; Custom Defense Pistol for .45 autos; and Stock Service Revolver for six-shooters with four-inch or shorter barrels.  The latter division had been dominated by fast-reloading .45 ACP revolvers with moon clips, so the fifth division – Enhanced Service Revolver – was created for that kind of handgun to level the playing field among the other revolver shooters.

I had earlier become one of the first four-gun masters (never did find out which of us was THE first), and now there are 24 five-gun masters out of some 22,000 members worldwide. I’m still kinda proud of that.

Any anniversary is a time to look back at progress, and how we got from where we were to where we are. This year, Enhanced Service Revolver is “going away,” and IDPA will adopt two new divisions, one for compact 9mm-type pistols, and one to accommodate a small but growing trend of carry pistols mounting small red dot optics.

There have been other changes in IDPA rules. Some pleased the participating membership at large. Some, such as the recent requirement for reloading only while standing flat-footed, did not. IDPA has listened to its membership and that rule is changing. I for one think that is A Good Thing.

As the game changes over the years, so do each of the players.   On my end, I noticed that while IDPA matured, I just got old. I was reminded of that in the three IDPA matches I shot in the last five weeks. Last Sunday in Orlando, shooting a little Glock 26 9mm in Stock Service Pistol, I managed to take “most accurate” overall for the match, but barely clawed my way into top ten when accuracy was combined with speed for final score. In December in Jacksonville, I managed to win Enhanced Service Pistol division shooting a Springfield Armory XDm 9mm and also win the Distinguished Senior category, a kind concession to the decrepitude of those of us over 65. And in between in Gainesville, I shot the same Springfield and didn’t win a damn thing, but still had fun.  My hit potential is the same as ever, but I move slower than I used to between firing points, and in “run and gun” my “run” no longer keeps pace with my “gun.”

But it’s still good fun with great people, and it still keeps you sharp with defensive firearms, so I’m gonna keep doin’ it, even if the day comes when they have to time me with an hourglass instead of an electronic gunshot timer.  If you haven’t tried IDPA, you owe yourself a shot at it, no pun intended.  Go to to find a club near you that hosts such matches.

Arrows show Mas’ brass in the air as Glock 26 shoots its way to “most accurate” at Orlando match last Sunday. Not shown is slowness of getting to firing station in the first place…Darn it.

04 Massad Ayoob Blog


Friday, January 2nd, 2015 by Mas | 24 Comments »

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.”


Wednesday, December 31st, 2014 by Mas | 59 Comments »

Ah, a fresh new calendar!

This being a guns and shooting blog and all, what plans do you have in that vein for 2015?

What new firearm(s) do you hope to acquire?

Any gun modification projects in the works?

Thinking about trying some shooting sport in which you haven’t yet competed?  Try an Appleseed maybe?

Going afield after some game you haven’t hunted before?

Any particular class you’re thinking of taking?

You’re invited to share your shooting plans here!


Saturday, December 27th, 2014 by Mas | 28 Comments »

Christmas week brought sad news: the passing of retired Spokane police chief Terry Mangan, at age 76 after a long illness.

I was privileged to know the man. He was a cop’s cop.  I’ve known many police chiefs who sit behind a mahogany desk wearing a gold-bedecked white uniform shirt, perhaps as a symbol of “I don’t have to go out and get dirty anymore,” and a little vestigial gun as a badge of office, if they wore a gun at all.  Not Terry; every time I met him, he was wearing BDU pants, a polo shirt with the department logo, and on his hip, the same .40 caliber Glock 22 he issued to his officers.

An ordained clergyman in his first career before taking up police work, he was able to separate church and state while maintaining the values of fairness and kindness that had become a part of him before he pinned on the badge.  In his younger days he participated in civil rights marches, and as a chief aggressively recruited minorities and females onto the job – not because it was the politically correct thing to do, but simply because it was the right thing to do. Terry focused on community-oriented policing before it became a buzzword, and worked hard to keep the public positively involved with the police department.

A “gun guy” at heart, Terry could not be seen as such as a public official in one of the most anti-gun cities in America, but he made firearms safety education part and parcel of Spokane’s crime prevention programs.  He made sure that genuine self-defense uses of firearms in his city were treated as such.  Chief of Spokane for many years, his retirement took him to Quantico where he spent the rest of his career teaching and consulting for the FBI.

In a time when there is a desperate cry for police and public to come together and better understand one another, Terry Mangan would have been the ideal person to lead such a national dialogue.  How ironic that we lost him at a time when we needed him the most.

Godspeed, Chief.  It was an honor to have known you.



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