Massad Ayoob's Blog
August 25, 2014
Jews for Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) approached Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) with a view toward SAF taking over the financially foundering JPFO. Many in JPFO were not pleased. There has been some badmouthing of the Second Amendment Foundation and its leader Alan Gottlieb lately. Having known Alan for decades and having served for many years on SAF’s board of trustees, I feel compelled to offer a word or two.
It was Gottlieb’s vision decades ago which, through SAF, funded much of the scholarly legal research published in respected law journals which today is recognized as authoritatively repudiating many “gun control” arguments. It was SAF that gave impetus to the two greatest US Supreme Court precedents supporting individual rights under the Second Amendment, Heller v. District of Columbia and McDonald, et al v. City of Chicago. And SAF is extremely active at the grassroots level as well, as seen here on Fox News.
One commentator said the late founder of JPFO, Aaron Zelman, did not respect Alan Gottlieb and the Second Amendment Foundation. Excuse me? I knew Aaron Zelman, and recall seeing him attending and speaking at the SAF-sponsored Gun Rights Policy Conference. Aaron was no two-faced hypocrite; I’m sure he would not have supported with his attendance an organization of which he disapproved.
I’ve heard Alan and SAF criticized for their choice of lawyers. Um, excuse me? Are they talking about Alan Gura, the brilliant lawyer who won those great victories for the Second Amendment in the Supreme Court of the United States? Both Alans are Jewish, Gura presently in Tel Aviv I’m told; are there members of Jews For Preservation of Firearms Ownership who bash two of the strongest fighters for the Second Amendment who are Jews themselves? What?
Speaking only for myself, it appears to me that SAF is the ship willing to pick up the survivors of the sinking JPFO, and to get them back sailing again on the course that Aaron Zelman founded for his great organization. If members of JPFO are able to keep the original organization afloat, more power to them. If not, I would much rather see SAF take the helm and keep JPFO on course instead of watching JPFO and its accomplishments sink beneath the waves.
All who read this are invited to attend the GRPC. There is no fee, and attendees receive a substantial amount of research materials. Over two days, they’ll hear from the best and the brightest in the pro-gun movement, encompassing national and grassroots organizations alike. Information is available here. Come and talk with Alan Gottlieb and others from SAF, and judge for yourself.
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August 20, 2014
Today, supposedly, a grand jury convenes in Missouri to examine the facts surrounding the death of Michael Brown at the hands of FPD officer Darren Wilson, to determine if an indictable crime has been committed. One talking head on TV even said that hearsay would be permitted there, which if true is nothing less than a travesty.
The grand jury review itself, it would seem, is coming awfully early. The general public does not realize how long it takes to complete a homicide investigation. The toxicology screen on the deceased, which can be a critical factor, may or may not have been completed yet, but to the best of my knowledge such results have not yet been released to the public.
Members of the grand jury will be under tremendous social and political pressure to indict. The state’s own governor has, incredibly, called for “vigorous prosecution.” Damn shame he didn’t have the integrity to call for “vigorous investigation” instead. One should not be convicted before trial in the Governor’s Mansion instead of in a courtroom.
The smell of mob rule is growing stronger, and more fetid.
Also today, Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to be on the ground in Ferguson for investigative purposes. Many pundits expect him to visit with the family of the deceased; certainly, there’s nothing wrong with that.
But I sincerely hope that the AG, our nation’s chief law enforcement officer, will visit the family of the injured officer as well.
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August 17, 2014
The meme started out as sweet, tender 18-year-old Michael Brown about to enter college, murdered by police in front of many witnesses despite no discernible motive. National uproar and civil disturbance ensues.
The family of the deceased hires Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Trayvon Martin’s family who engaged a high powered, well connected PR firm to turn that shooting into a national cause celebre, which they did with enormous success. By the time the truth came out, most of America seemed to still believe that the deceased was a harmless, innocent victim of racism murdered by a monster who deserved to be lynched. That meme seems to be getting a repeat in Missouri.
Only days later, do we learn how savagely the officer was beaten by the physically huge man he shot. And that very shortly before the incident, the innocent college boy had performed a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store, caught on surveillance video. (This, of course, would not do, so last night looters ravaged that particular convenience store.) It has been reported that that Facebook images of Brown exist, flashing gang signs indicating membership in one of the nation’s most feared street gang, the Bloods.
Countless people already invested in the police brutality meme cry that this late news must be a cover-up. They do not realize the long-standing ethos of law enforcement that says, “We don’t try our cases in the press.”
There is still much for us to learn about what happened in Ferguson, Missouri that day. Results of the autopsy and toxicology screen have not yet been released. Location of entry wounds and trajectory of the bullets through the body will tell us things, and it would be interesting to know what if anything was in Michael Brown’s system when he turned from the “gentle giant” his family described him as, into the hulking monster throwing the store clerk around in the surveillance film shortly before he was shot by police. I suspect there are dashcam images or i-phone video that the public has not yet seen.
One lesson that has clearly emerged so far: the longer the accused wait to put forth their side of the story, the more damage will be done to their cause. An accusation unanswered is seen by the general public as a plea of nolo contendre.
And this morning, CNN reports that storeowners, feeling that police aren’t protecting them from looters, are standing outside their shops in Ferguson with “machine guns.”
Another lesson of déjà vu, I suppose…
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August 11, 2014
The shooting world has lost another stalwart. A skilled shooting competitor back when he had time for it, John LeVick could have made a good living as a gunsmith if he had not devoted himself to the practice of law in Lubbock, Texas. He passed suddenly last week, altogether too soon at 59. A mutual friend, gun collector Chuck MacDonald, eulogized John as a Renaissance man I think he nailed it.
His obituary is here.
I first took note of Brother LeVick with his posts on smith-wessonforum.com, where his screen name was 38/44HD45. We found ourselves corresponding frequently on a private forum; John had significant experience in gun- and shooting-related cases. I finally got to meet him last year at the Texas Bar Association’s annual Firearms Law Symposium. As expected, he was as insightful in person as he was in print.
Like so many in the pro-gun movement, John LeVick was motivated by love of family, love of justice and fairness, and love of life. True to form, he left instructions that when he passed, in lieu of flowers, contributions should be made to the Second Amendment Foundation
Vaya con Dios, John LeVick. You are missed.
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August 8, 2014
In legal theory, crimes are divided between malum prohibitum and malum in se. Translated from Latin, malum in se means that the thing being described is evil in and of itself, and is probably so in every civilized society. Malum prohibitum essentially says “It’s bad because we prohibited it.”
Case in point: you are a responsible young single mom, gainfully employed in the medical profession to support your two little kids. Becoming the victim of a couple of crimes has caused you to arm yourself, go through training, and get a permit to carry a gun where you live, in Philadelphia.
After crossing a state line, you are pulled over in a routine traffic stop. You do what you think is the responsible thing: you advise the police officer that you are licensed to carry a gun and do have it with you.
You are then placed under arrest, and find yourself facing a MANDATORY penalty of three years in prison and becoming a convicted felon for life, because the state you’re now in is New Jersey, and they do not reciprocate with Pennsylvania or any other state on concealed carry permits.
We gun folks know that the fifty states are a patchwork quilt with fifty different sets of laws. This young woman is not a gun person. She apparently didn’t know that a state that would recognize her driver’s license wouldn’t recognize her carry license. Read about it here: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/07/16/honest-mistake-leads-to-philly-mother-facing-three-years-on-gun-charge/ .
She’s not the first to make this honest mistake, and won’t be the last. (And, before anyone questions that it was an honest mistake, why would someone who knew they were breaking the law spontaneously tell the first cop they encountered that they were doing so?) This case is the very definition of malum prohibitum.
It’s also why I and so many others have been calling for national reciprocity for decades.
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August 2, 2014
A friend and graduate from Chicago passes along this story: http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/news/kadner/28958006-452/kadner-concealed-carry-shooting-incident-raises-questions.html#.U92YF_n6N7s .
An as yet unidentified law-abiding citizen in his fifties (erroneously said to be 86 in early reports) fires two warning shots at a fleeing armed robber. A police officer chasing the same robber breaks off the pursuit and takes cover, thinking he’s the one coming under fire. The suspect is captured anyway, and no one’s blood is shed.
In the story linked above, a retired detective calls the armed citizen an idiot for doing what he did, pointing out that among other things the officer could have shot him. But the investigating officers, and their department, and the prosecutor’s office take the armed citizen’s side and determine no charges will be brought.
And now comes a third side of the story, that the citizen saw the robber run out of the store, saw the officer come around the other side of the building, and believed the robber was about to ambush and murder the cop. The citizen is said to have fired to break the ambush and save the officer.
Moral of the story: wait for all sides’ viewpoints to come in before forming an opinion on what happened. And there may be more information yet to come regarding this particular incident.
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July 28, 2014
A Federal judge has just overturned the Federal ban on handgun carry in the District of Columbia: https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2009cv1482-51 .
Rockstar Second Amendment attorney Alan Gura and the Second Amendment Foundation have scored another major victory. Here is Washington writer Emily Miller’s take: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/27/emily-miller-federal-judge-rules-dc-ban-on-gun-carry-rights-unconstitutional/ .
The DC police chief has reportedly ordered officers not to arrest gun carriers who have legitimate permits from other jurisdictions at this time, which would have the effect of legalizing carry with permits from elsewhere but not for DC residents, who have none. Some folks interpret the ruling as “Constitutional Carry” which encompasses DC residents whose handguns are registered in the District as per local law. However, a lawyer friend of mine close to the situation offers this cautious advice: “Obviously, I do *not* recommend carrying or possessing a firearm in D.C. until this matter is fully litigated, unless such carrying or possession would be legal under the law as it previously stood; it is likely that the decision will be promptly stayed once an appeal is filed.”
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July 23, 2014
On the morning of July 20, the ranks of the shooter folk was depleted by one fine man. http://www.pharostribune.com/obituaries/x1927879820/George-L-Voltz .
George Voltz (left) with Denny Reichard (right) at Sand Burr Gun Ranch in 2013
I knew George Voltz for about three decades, teaching with him annually most years. He had served his country in Korea and Vietnam. He had raised a fine family, though I only got to know two of his sons, Wade and George, Jr. For many years, George owned a gun shop in Logansport, Indiana. I bought my younger daughter’s first firearm, a Smith & Wesson .22 Airweight Kit Gun, from him there.
George devoted his last several decades to sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of firearms and his passion for their safe and competent use. His wisdom can be found on many spots on the Internet gun forums such as stoppingpower.net, where he normally posted under his initials, GLV.
In person, George was patient, kind, friendly, and unflappable. He had a dry sense of humor, an uncommonly large supply of common sense, and was one hell of a shot.
I had the good fortune to spend some time with him while teaching in Indiana this past June. Though wracked by cancer and the side effects of radiation therapy, this octogenarian still stood tall, his signature .45 at his hip. He had, at 83, recently competed in a three-gun match…not as fast as in days of old, but showing the determination that characterized his entire life.
George passed at his son’s residence, with hospice care, and only after his death did I learn that George himself had been a volunteer hospice worker. It was characteristic of the caring and compassion that the man exuded. A born instructor to the end, he taught us all how to die with dignity.
In this case, it’s not a cliché to say…We Are Diminished.
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July 17, 2014
Our military – not for the first time – listens to complaints about poor “man-stopping” ability with 9mm ball ammunition in combat: http://m.military.com/daily-news/2014/07/03/army-wants-a-harder-hitting-pistol.html .
It seems to me that there’s little wrong with Beretta M9 performance that better 9mm ammunition (i.e., police-type high performance hollow point), MecGar magazines, and maintenance can’t cure. (Yes, the trigger reach is long for small-handed personnel. There are some mechanical fixes to help that, too.)
But I’m not military. Many of you reading this are, or have been.
What’s all y’all’s take on the matter?
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July 12, 2014
In keeping with the last post here, regarding small self-defense revolvers, let me flag you to something an old friend of mine recently came up with. Roy Huntington spent 20 years as a cop on the mean streets of San Diego, and today is one of my editors. We both started at a time when cops carried service revolvers, and detectives and off duty officers traditionally packed .38 snubs. Handguns with lights attached were not a practical reality.
Roy has come up with a new product via Hyskore. The Griplight fits any round-butt J-frame Smith & Wesson revolver, replacing the grips. Grasping pressure of the firing hand activates 100 plus lumens of white light, much the way Crimson Trace LaserGrips send out a red aiming beam. Light is more important, IMHO, since it lets you identify your target. To give you half an hour of running time, it uses a CR2 battery which, storing more juice than flat batteries, needs to be put in the butt area. This lengthens the grip accordingly.
Left, with Gunlight installed J-frame 5-shot S&W .357 is similar in grip profile to standard K-frame 6-shot .357, right.
This brings grip configuration to about the size of a service revolver with good, hand-filling combat stocks. No longer an ankle holster or concealed-in-the-pocket proposition, but hell, folks of Roy’s and my generation and older have been concealing full-size service revolvers under sport coats and even un-tucked polo shirts in good hideout holsters for many decades.
On the farm or ranch, open carry is no concern, and the J-frame so equipped carries nicely tucked in the hip pocket or the front pouch of bib overalls; when you’re on your own property, concealment isn’t mandatory. Right now, my test unit is on a Model 340 Military & Police .357 Magnum. The big grips really attenuate the recoil of a sub-fourteen-ounce super lightweight revolver with a full power Magnum load.
A lot of the vermin that needs to be shot in the countryside can be handled with a .22. I’m thinking seriously of putting these grips onto my sweet old Smith & Wesson .22 Kit Gun, which is more accurate than a 2” barrel revolver has any right to be. The last animals that had to be killed on my rural property – a rabid fox, and a water moccasin – were shot with Glocks in calibers .45 GAP and .357 SIG respectively, and both in poor light. A .22 would have been easier on the ears. The white light from the Griplight would have been perfect under those conditions.
The Griplight is an excellent value, I think, at approximately $130. They can be ordered from another old friend, Bill Laughridge at Cylinder & Slide, be sure to click on “new products.” A very useful product, designed by one good man who knows his stuff, and sold by another…what’s not to like?
The Evil Princess pierces the darkness with white light and orange fire from Griplight-ed S&W.
Ultralight S&W 340 M&P at height of recoil; Griplight absorbed recoil of full power Black Hills 158 grain .357 Magnum rounds very well.
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