Massad Ayoob's Blog
June 28, 2015
This past week, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its decision that gay marriage was legal, and such a marriage performed in any one state has legal standing in all the other 49. I have no problem with gay marriage – why should we heterosexuals be the only ones to suffer?
Now, though, we have some in the 2A community who feel this opens the door to – or may even create – the long-sought national reciprocity for concealed carry. http://bearingarms.com/scotus-ruling-sex-marriage-mandates-nationwide-concealed-carry-reciprocity/.
This actually makes sense. It has always been anomalous that states would recognize one another’s pilot’s license, heterosexual marriage license, driver’s license, etc., but not one another’s permit to carry concealed and loaded handguns. If heterosexual marriage didn’t set a precedent creating national reciprocity on carry, I’m not clear on how gay marriage somehow will.
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June 24, 2015
Breaking news is often broken news.
That’s why I waited for some facts to come out before commenting on the latest mass murder, by a 21 year old white supremacist in South Carolina. Early reports had us wondering what kind of crazy father would give a gun to a young man known to be troubled; turns out he bought it himself with his birthday money. The prohibitionists are using this as an excuse for universal background checks; turns out this monster PASSED such a background check.
The church where the atrocity took place was apparently a gun-free zone. Its pastor, one of the victims, had publicly spoken against lawful concealed carry. In that state, a gun can only be carried in a house of worship with the approval of the church authorities, which clearly wouldn’t have been granted in this case. In the days since the incident, we’ve learned that the killer had first planned to carry out his mass murder at the College of Charleston. What might have dissuaded him? Well, maybe when he scoped it out he saw a campus police car, like the one that appears so conspicuously here: http://publicsafety.cofc.edu/. The history of mass murderers is that they prefer helpless victims. That’s just what this monster found inside the peaceful, unarmed church, proving yet again that “gun-free zones” have become hunting preserves for psychopaths who stalk human prey.
Pro-self-defense attorney Charles Cotton was excoriated by the prohibitionists after stating that if some of the parishioners might have been armed, many innocent lives could have been spared in this incident. They claimed he was blaming the victims. That’s a crock of crap. I’ve met Charles Cotton, heard him speak, and am convinced he’s absolutely right. Compare the recent horror story with another mad dog killer who opened fire in another church with a largely African-American congregation.
Convicted criminal Kiarron Parker, 29, opened fire at the New Destiny Christian Center in Aurora, Colorado on April 22, 2012. He shot and killed the pastor’s mother. She was the only victim, because an armed member of the congregation drew his own concealed handgun and shot the killer dead, ending his rampage. It happened almost three months to the day before the notorious mass murder in a theater in the same city, now being tried in court, but the media has chosen the entire time to ignore the rescue at the Aurora church. A more comprehensive list of armed Good Guys stopping armed Bad Guys can be found here: http://americanhandgunner.com/the-false-hope-of-gun-free-zones/.
And, another 2012 incident, a couple hundred miles from where the latest massacre occurred: http://controversialtimes.com/news/remember-this-sc-concealed-carrier-stops-mass-shooting-during-church-service-zero-casualties/.
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June 19, 2015
June 17, 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?”
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June 11, 2015
In the handgun forums and magazines, a new narrative holds that .45 and 9mm are virtually the same in “stopping power,” so we should all carry the 9mm for its (relatively) lighter recoil and larger cartridge capacity. While lighter recoil and more ammo are certainly good reasons to go to a 9mm instead of something larger, are smaller bullets really as good as bigger bullets?
The answer, of course, is “it depends on the bullets.” Historically, it takes superior bullet design and/or higher velocity for the smaller bullet to do as much damage as the larger. The smaller round is much more demanding of careful ammo selection, in my experience. Any deer hunter will tell you that you have to carefully select .243 loads for quick, humane kills on deer, while there is a broader spectrum of .308 loads that will do the job. Any soldier with a specialty in small arms will tell you that much more money and research has gone into making effective anti-personnel ammo in 5.56mm NATO than was ever needed for effective 7.62mm NATO. In the same vein, while I’m usually perfectly comfortable carrying a 9mm for personal protection, I’ve found myself having to be MUCH more picky to find street proven ammo for that chambering than for my old favorite .45.
I’m not alone in that. A fellow writer, Charlie Petty, wrote 25 years ago in American Rifleman magazine of FBI’s research at the time, “As the testing progressed, another factor became obvious. No 9mm loads came close to the 10 mm and .45. ‘We expected that there would be a gap,’ said (FBI’s Urey) Patrick, ‘but we didn’t expect it to be so large.’ In the first series of tests, the best a 9 mm could do was 67.5%. The .38 Spl. fared just as poorly, and the standard FBI-issue .38 Spl. (158-gr. lead hollow-point +P) also achieved a 67.5% success rate. Among the initial rounds tested, only the 10 -mm, .45 ACP and a single .357 Mag. round were able to score consistently above 90%.”
Time went on. Ammo got better, and the new designs probably benefitted the 9mm proportionally more than the bigger calibers, but all were made better. A famous wound ballistics specialist whose work was pivotal to the FBI’s testing protocols was Dr. Martin Fackler, who died last month. In a 2012 interview Dr. Fackler said, “The size of the hole the bullet makes, the .45 is bigger than a nine-mill. But how much bigger, by diameter, it really doesn’t give you the measure of how much tissue it disrupts. What does is the area of a circle. Area of a circle, it was pi-r-squared. It’s the radius squared. So, if you take your .45, your point four-five-one and your nine-millimeter as your point three-five-five, take half, take the radius, square that, and what you’ll find is that the volume, or the area, of damaged tissue made by the .45 is about sixty percent more than made by the nine.”
Another recognized authority, Dick Fairburn, recently wrote in Police One.com, “I will always carry the largest drill I can, so my choice for open/duty carry is either a .45 for social work or a full-power 10mm in the boondocks. When I need a small pistol for concealment, a 9mm with high-tech ammo will do.”
Bearing in mind that where the bullet strikes is probably more important than anything else, and there is a wide range of experience and ability to control rapid pistol fire, I’d be curious to hear what all y’all think about this. Since this tends to be a very contentious topic on the gun related internet, I’ll remind everyone that informed opinion, experience, and facts are welcome here, and ad hominem argument is not.
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June 7, 2015
Recently 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.
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June 1, 2015
“We were lucky enough to avoid most of the rain,” said Mas, dryly.
“Mas, that joke just sucks,” replied Tom, swiftly.
On this end, we’ve had remarkable good luck dodging bad weather so far this year. This past weekend, rain had been predicted for both shooting days. We got through Day One with nary a raindrop, though. Quarter-inch hailstones and monster rain and lightning storms had been predicted for Day Two. We ended up shooting in light rain some, and went indoors when the thunder rolled, but still finished only a few minutes later than scheduled. Shooting in the rain presents some degree of safety hazard – loaded guns in wet, slippery hands, and vision somewhat impaired by rain on the shooting glasses – but that can be compensated for. Lightning, however, is non-negotiable. When you’re responsible for people’s safety, you don’t send them out in a lightning storm to stand in an open field holding metal objects. Minutes after the last student had departed the graduation ceremony, the skies opened with sheets of rain and an impressive light show of natural electricity.
In mid-May, we had been teaching a MAG-40 class at Karl Rehn’s outstanding KR Training center near Austin, Texas. We got rained on throughout, but thanks to KR staffer Rich Worthey’s masterful navigation of weather apps, we were able to get folks inside before any lightning hit the scene. That heavy rain hasn’t stopped since. Rich told me later that he and his neighbors were beginning to understand why Noah felt such urgency in building the Ark. That whole area has suffered severe flooding since, and now. Indeed, flooding of late has been horrible from Houston to Hoboken. Condolences to all who are going through such brutal weather.
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May 29, 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.
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May 25, 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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May 21, 2015
Heading home from a class near Austin, Texas the Evil Princess and I got hungry not too far east of Houston. We wound up at Gator Junction Bar-B-Q , at the Turtle Bayou Turnaround (love that address!) off Interstate 10 in Wallisville.
It’s a little bitty restaurant…it’s a store…and it’s a trip back in a time machine. She and I love those mid-20th century eateries. We sat on wood as stuffed critters looked down on us from the walls. We meandered among the antique decorations. And we enjoyed scrumptious brisket.
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