Massad Ayoob's Blog

July 26, 2015

…do not always guarantee the best of results.


After the atrocious mass murder at the recruiting office in Chattanooga, some civilians who support their military have showed up conspicuously armed to perform volunteer guard duty at other recruiting centers.  Some of them are military vets.  I totally sympathize with their wish to protect the people who protect their nation.


However, it has not worked out as well as some might have hoped.  In one incident, a volunteer was “showing” his AR15 to a passerby – something not normally compatible with “guard duty” – and an unintended discharge occurred.


Here, a volunteer guard was authoritatively requested to leave.


And here, we find the military itself less than thrilled with the idea.


As one observer noted, most of us would be leery of a volunteer unknown to us who showed up on our roof fixing the shingles, let alone standing outside our house with a military rifle to guard us, uninvited.  Moreover, if strangers with visible rifles become the norm outside recruiting stations, it will allow the next jihadi to make a closer approach and not trigger alert status until he starts shooting.


What’s that saying about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions?  I appreciate Americans who care about the safety of their soldiers and Marines.  It seems, however, that political activism to get trained, armed military personnel distributed on base and in recruiting stations is going to be the best support we can offer in this vein to our service men and women.


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Published on July 26, 2015 19:17

July 21, 2015

There has been a lot of talk lately about self-defense shootings of black suspects by white people being treated differently than if it had been a white person harmed by an African-American.  The perception is nothing new. I recently had occasion, for another reason, to review a story about one of my cases that I had written in the late 1990s. The following is an excerpt from my assessment of a trial I had participated in a year before.


The quote: Johnny Cochran, NAACP-coordinated picketing, a white versus black thing. I hate it when that happens. I worry about it sometimes, but probably more than I should.


            Cross-racial shootings bring the same concerns whether I’m speaking for white good guy who shot black bad guy, or vice versa, both of which I’ve done several times.


            A little more than six months before this trial, I testified for a black man charged with first degree murder and standing before an all-white jury after he had shot a white man in self-defense. That jury found him not guilty, and did so during the O.J. Simpson civil trial in the courtroom next door to where the Simpson case was being adjudicated. Justice was served.


            This time, I spoke for a white man charged with first degree murder and standing before a largely black jury after he had shot a black man in self-defense. I knew how much pressure there had to be on the black jurors, and knew what they’d face if they acquitted and went home to a community that had heard Johnny Cochran and the media say that (defendant) Hubbard had killed a black man for no good reason.


            The jury was out for about an hour and 40 minutes before they returned their verdict and found Blake Hubbard not guilty. One juror said later that they’d reached the acquittal verdict unanimously during their first five minutes of deliberation.


Call me a starry-eyed optimist if you will, but my opinion hasn’t changed in the 17 years since I wrote that.  I’ve learned to trust the jury.  Get the facts in front of them, and they’ll do the right thing, the forces of media bias and hate-mongering notwithstanding.


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Published on July 21, 2015 17:39 • 1 view

July 18, 2015

After yet another vicious, cowardly, murderous assault that has left five American service personnel dead on American soil, someone has finally insisted on an appropriate response. After the recent atrocity at the Marine recruiting office in Chattanooga, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has ordered full time National Guardsmen in his state to be armed on duty. http://www.thv11.com/story/news/2015/07/17/gov-hutchinson-directs-states-full-time-guardsmen-to-be-armed/30319691/ .


Asa Hutchinson, we recall, was the man named to head the NRA School Shield program to put armed security in our nation’s schools in the wake of the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.  He is a man who understands the logical truth: the only way to stop mad dog mass killers is to do what we would do with any other mad dog.


“Big Army” may be reviewing something similar, though apparently more hesitantly: http://www.aol.com/article/2015/07/17/army-chief-security-at-recruiting-posts-will-be-reviewed/21210711/?icid=maing-fluid|bon|dl2|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D1496193374 .


According to the Associated Press, “A day after a gunman shot and killed four Marines and wounded three other people in Chattanooga, Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, told reporters that arming troops in those offices could cause more problems than it might solve. ‘I think we have to be careful about over-arming ourselves, and I’m not talking about where you end up attacking each other,’ Odierno said during a morning breakfast. Instead, he said, it’s more about “accidental discharges and everything else that goes along with having weapons that are loaded that causes injuries.”


“We’re always going to be somewhat vulnerable to a lone wolf, or whatever you want to call it, a surprise shooter, because we are out there with the population and that’s where we have to be,” added the Chief of Staff.


Kudos to Governor Hutchinson for decisively doing what is obviously the right thing.  I sincerely hope it starts a trend.


In the meantime, that picture of the bullet-riddled window of the recruiting office in Chattanooga – replete with its “no guns” sign – stands as stark proof of the fact that “gun free zones” are simply hunting preserves for mass murderers.


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Published on July 18, 2015 19:51 • 3 views

July 14, 2015

Reading a city newspaper while having breakfast in the airport yesterday, I glanced at the news roundup. It included that fact that in Texas outlets, the Whataburger chain is putting up “no open carry” signs, since the allowing that recently passed in the Lone Star State.


The item, printed without a byline, says in part, “In an open letter on the company’s website, Whataburger president and CEO Preston Atkinson said many employees and customers are ‘uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm.’”


It went on, “Atkinson’s letter comes one month after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that made it legal to carry handguns openly on the streets of the nation’s second most-populous state, ending a prohibition dating back to the post-Civil War era that disarmed former Confederate soldiers and freed slaves.


Emphasis mine. True words belong to Seth Robbins, who turns out to have written the piece even though the paper I read it in did not give credit to him, nor to AP, which distributed it.


Good to see this in a mainstream city newspaper.


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Published on July 14, 2015 08:40 • 2 views

July 9, 2015

Jackie Clay, Backwoods Home’s most popular author, has followed up her first novel with a sequel that her fans hope will be the first of many, “Autumn of the Loons.”  I enjoyed it as much as I did her first, “Summer of the Eagles.”  You can order both here: http://www.backwoodshome.com/blogs/JackieClay/ .


            “Autumn of the Loons” picks up a few years after the first novel, on a ranch in the Old Western frontier where the good folks who survived the first story (the bad folks didn’t) are building happy new lives.  And then…     


            Look, I don’t do spoilers. Let me just say that as in the first book, there are life lessons that will resonate with anyone who lives or at least understands self-reliance and the backwoods home lifestyle.  Things from the past that we all want to leave behind come back to haunt us, and have to be dealt with.  Only adversity shows you who’s really your friend.  Good deeds pay themselves forward in unexpected ways.  Racial hatred seems never to end, but at least can be ameliorated between people of honor.


            Jackie seems to have followed the long-standing advice to writers, “write what you know.”  She does, and her evocative writing style puts you there with her characters.  She makes you feel the heat and the terror of the onrushing wildfire, the icy rain and snow of encroaching winter where there’s no shelter you can’t fabricate yourself out of nature.  Perhaps just for us geezers, there’s a moment where a seasoned veteran of life’s anguish uses his well-worn Colt Frontier .44-40 to put a homicidal young gunman with a state of the art double action Colt Lightning in his place, which happens to be six feet under.


            The characters are well-drawn. Yes, there’s one stone evil psychopath who seems like a cartoon villain from a Charles Bronson movie, but there are people like that.  She gives us another, more complex villain who’s a sociopath with enough humanity to redeem himself and save an innocent life before he meets his maker.  And finally, as in her first novel, Jackie gives us Justice…DIY justice, it’s true, but the novel is set in a time and place where that’s pretty much the only kind available.


            Like I said, I won’t spoil it for you. I’ll only say, read the book, and be standing by for the third in the series, “Winter of the Wolves.”  As they say in my world, “Further, the affiant sayeth not.”


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Published on July 09, 2015 20:11 • 1 view

July 5, 2015

I was tied up all weekend with a murder case report, but couldn’t let Independence Day pass without a little fireworks.  My brief time-out of trigger-pulling on the backyard range was with 10mm and .45 caliber 1911 pistols.  While safe-diving for the ones I wanted, I spotted a little fancy-stocked, silvery stainless ParaOrdnance Companion .45 from Para’s LDA  (Light Double Action) series. Realizing I didn’t remember the last time I’d shot an LDA, I threw it into the gun box for the short walk to the range.


And with the first five rounds of Remington 185 grain .45 hollow point I fired from it, two-hand standing at fifteen yards, I got an exactly one-inch group.


IMG_5947W


The Companion was a concealed carry design, with 3.5” barrel. Guns that size aren’t supposed to shoot that well, particularly in the 1911 platform.  The light double action (about 6.5 pounds pull weight in this specimen) distributes over a long stroke, making it less likely the shooter will anticipate the shot. I was conscious of not having run an LDA in, oh, a decade or so, and was taking care with the trigger pull.


I found myself doing the same a week before, teaching a MAG-40 class for Thunderbird Tactical in Wichita with a Heckler and Koch P30SK subcompact 9mm that I’m testing for Guns Magazine.  It gave me a 300/300 score on the pace-setter qualification demonstration, and I was happy with its performance.  It has the LEM (Law Enforcement Modification) trigger, which like the LDA is a long, light double action stroke for every shot.


IMG_5948


Many years ago, when the great Mike Plaxco was world speed shooting champion and The Man to Beat on the pro shooting tour, I took his advanced class. Therein, he commented that if you’ve hit a plateau in your shooting skills, you might want to try something new – different technique or even different gun – because it will make you focus more on what you’re doing.


This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Michael proven right. Now that that damn 30-some page report is done, I’m gonna spend some more time on this end playing with that neat little LDA. It’s a useful concept. I’m told ParaOrdnance has recently been bought by Remington; I hope they keep the LDA option.


While I’m doing that, you’re invited to chime in on any shooting experiences you may have had in a similar vein.


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Published on July 05, 2015 19:20 • 7 views

July 3, 2015

The Fourth of July is almost upon us, and there are safety concerns.


There are rumblings from ISIS that they are trying to instigate their minions and the mindless “lone wolves” they influence to do bad things to Americans on Independence Day.  Ratchet your alertness level up one notch at least, and be ready to protect yourself, and yours, and those around you.


In commentary on another blog entry here, one of our readers asked about safety tips on fireworks.  If it’s being professionally done in your community, my advice is to stand well back away from the damn launchers.  A rearward perspective will probably give you a better set of “oohs” and “aahs” when they burst in the sky anyway.  But it will also keep you and your kids more out of range of anything that could go wrong.  The worst such debacle I know of occurred when a Chinese sky torpedo, which proved to have been defective, exploded in its launch tube in Michigan. Death and dismemberment resulted.


Be really, REALLY careful about fireworks at home.  I’ve trained multiple one-armed people in self-defense shooting, who needed that special attention because in their younger days they were careless with home-made fireworks and assorted other incendiary/explosive devices.  We can all learn from their suffering.


With all that said, I’ll be making noise on the Fourth one way or the other.  I’m in the process of writing a pre-trial report in a murder case, where I’ll be speaking as an expert witness called by the defense for a young woman who saved her life with a gun when a man attacked her with deadly force.  That, obviously, takes precedence over fun.  If the report is done as soon as I hope it will be, this weekend I’ll be shooting an IDPA match with good friends.  If it isn’t, I’ll take some time off to get out on my own home range and do some trigger pulling, to commemorate the armed citizens of 18th Century America who preserved my right to do so.


For many years now, I’ve been in my beloved home country to celebrate the Fourth.  In my younger days, with kids to support, I couldn’t teach classes on holidays so July 4 usually found me in another nation earning money for my wife and children.  Most often – before their handgun ban of 1996, which must have made the longbowmen of Agincourt spin in their graves – that was in one or another part of Great Britain.  When I spent the Fourth in the British Empire, I would flush a teabag down a toilet in commemoration of the Boston Tea Party…and my British brothers and sisters understood.


Have a great Independence Day.  Stay safe!


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Published on July 03, 2015 13:11 • 2 views

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.


Opinions?


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Published on June 28, 2015 18:49 • 1 view

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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Published on June 24, 2015 18:50 • 7 views

June 19, 2015

This was my column in the May-June issue of Backwoods Home


I’d be interested in all y’all’s take on it.


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Published on June 19, 2015 21:21 • 4 views

Massad Ayoob's Blog

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