Exclusive for IvanNikolov.com – Interview with Massad Ayoob – on concealed carry and politics, women carrying, CCW holders who don’t carry, and more.
Ivan: This past weekend I had a chance to study under the legendary Massad Ayoob. I took his MAG-20 Classroom course and I also had a chance to take a short interview from him – he was gracious enough to agree to spend a few minutes with me after class on the first day to give me that interview and answer my questions.
But, let me introduce quickly Mr. Ayoob. Massad Ayoob is an internationally known firearms and self-defense instructor. He has taught police techniques and self-defense to both law enforcement and private citizens in numerous venues since 1974. Mr. Ayoob is the former director of the Lethal Force Institute and now directs the Massad Ayoob Group.
Massad Ayoob has appeared as an expert witness in many many trials and serves as a part time police officer in New Hampshire and has served as a part time police officer there for more than forty years.
Mas, he would like us to call him, has written several books and more than one thousand articles on topics such as self-defense, combat techniques, firearms, and law issues. His latest book came out in late 2014 and it’s called “Deadly Force – understand your right to self-defense”. I cannot recommend it highly enough to you. But, let’s go to the interview now..
Ivan: I understand Illinois was the last state to vote concealed carry last year and now all fifty states allow concealed carry. Is that correct?
Mas: In all fifty states have a provision for concealed carry. You have some – Hawaii for example – while it’s in the law that the issuing authorities “may issue” a permit there, you can count on your fingers how many have actually been issued. Maryland, some other jurisdictions, New Jersey for example, are extremely tight with them. In many jurisdictions, I’m afraid, the “may issue” comes up where it’s up to the discretion of the issuing authority turns to turn into “We’ll give you the permit if you’re a white, male, rich and politically connected”.
Ivan: That’s pretty sad that this is the situation in United States…
Mas: There’s still a lot of work to be done.
Ivan: Well, my question is this: I understand Florida was the first state to an act conceal carry?
Mas: It was it was the first in what some call “the new wave” going back to 1987. Some states, Vermont for example, has never required a concealed carry permit. State of New Hampshire has had it since about 1923. Washington has had concealed carry for a very long time. Up until about 1987 in Florida it was “may issue” and it was only good for the county were it was issued. Marion Hammer and her group “Unified Sportsmen of Florida” pushed through what I consider to be landmark reform legislation with “shall issue” and that began the wave of the “shall issue” concept – instead of it being up to a politician whether you got your permit now any citizen they had to give the permit or show good cause why not. So that was the principle that really opened the door to what the modern ordinary law abiding citizen has now and the “shall issue” states. And that created the wave that followed. Back at that time there were seven states that did not even have a provision of law for legal concealed carry.
Ivan: …And, one of them is Alaska, I think…
Mas: No, Alaska was in pretty good shape. One of them actually was Arizona. Arizona had allowed open carry without a permit but until recent decades concealed carry simply was not legal there unless you were a police officer. First they pass a “shall issue” then they pass permitless carry. They were the third state to do it. Vermont had already had it of course longer than any living American. Arizona, I believe, was the second and Alaska – the third, and I think that is also a coming wave of the future.
Ivan: So, is it fair to say that we’ve had pretty much a quarter century of experience with states who re-enacted concealed carry laws, like Florida for example?
Mas: Yes. So, as I said I consider it reform legislation – egalitarian law that lets any law abiding citizen have the same privilege that was once reserved for the rich and powerful.
Ivan: So here is my question. For all this data accumulated over almost a half a century – no – a quarter of a century, I should say, twenty five.. almost thirty years, in many states we now know that in every state that has the concealed carry laws the crime rates have stayed the same or even gone down. And, if we account for the increase in population over all these years we could pretty much safely make the argument that the crime rates have gone down everywhere. My question is: Why is it that so many people today still oppose concealed carry laws?
Mas: Many people are still locked into the old paradigms. Many people practice what I’ve come to call pigeon hole politics. Let’s see.. I identify as a Republican. What are the Republicans saying about this? Okay, my position on issue “X” is whatever they say. And, in a world with the Democratic party platform and accomplishes gun control. A whole lot of folks who identify as liberal and progressive seem to feel that to be worthy of the label they must automatically be anti-gun. The fact is we have a lot of genuine credentialed liberals and progressives who are on our side of this issue. People like Don Kates who who marched with the Freedom Riders back in the sixties, certainly Charlton Heston who marched with Martin Luther King and later became the iconic president of the National Rifle Association. Trying to remember the name… A former head of Amnesty International Marc Benenson in New York has been one of over the decades one of our strongest advocates for a Second Amendment freedoms. So I hope the public won’t fall into the media trap of assuming that if you identify as a liberal you must be anti-gun.
Ivan: So, is it an issue of conformity with younger people who are involved in politics?
Mas: Well, it tends to be conformity, it tends also to be – we are the most media-driven nation in the world. And, probably right now we have the most media-driven generation of Americans. We’ve also had a couple two or three generations now of vehement anti-gun – feeling wanting strongest friends through very powerful media groups – both entertainment and news. We can’t be surprised that the propaganda has had its predictable effect and propaganda has those who listen to those outlets.
Ivan: Data from 2014, I believe July, shows that there are almost 4.8 percent of the population of the United States – that’s more than 11 million people – who have been issued concealed carry permits. And if you count.. We don’t know the count of states like Vermont and Alaska where open carry is permitted because they don’t have these numbers, but it’s probably a lot more than 4.8 percent – it’s probably over 5. I don’t even.. I can’t even guess what the numbers are. But, my suspicion is that a lot of the people who have been issued concealed carry permits do not carry and some of them never intended to carry in the first place. Why is that?
Mas: I think there were some who didn’t feel that right now they needed to carry but were practical enough to realize that things change overnight. If tonight I suddenly find out that I’m a stalking victim I don’t think I want to wait ninety days or six months for somebody to process my permit. I’d like to be able to start protecting myself tomorrow. There are a great many people who carry sometimes. Well, Gee, if I’m going out at night I’ll carry but I feel safer during the day. If I’ve got the kids with me to protect I’ve got to be the protective daddy-wolfs so I carry my gun. But if I’m going all by myself I don’t have to worry about that. It’s not my place to proselytize but I tell folks like that, okay, if you carry the gun to protect your children how about carry the gun to protect your children’s father. How about you do that? The bottom line is I can’t make everyone carry every day. There are a lot of people who are in occupations where they can’t carry or situations where they can’t carry at some time during the day. For example, a great many attorneys spend so much time in the court house they’d be constantly taking the gun on off on off. So, I can understand the “sometime carrier”. I feel anybody who is carrying is going to be safer than if there are not, and the more good people there are out there capable of providing the protection… It’s just like if I ever have a heart attack the more people who know how to do C.P.R. the safer I’m going to feel and the more AED’s there are in the building the safer I’ll feel about that too.
Ivan: True. But, have you heard this… You’re a police officer and I want to know this. Have you heard somebody say, “Go and get your concealed carry permit because a police officer, if you ever get pulled over, will look at you with different eyes. Have you heard that argument?
Mas: Some people make that argument and there is some truth to it. The convicted felons can get a license to drive an automobile. Convicted felons cannot get a license to carry a gun. Now, I’m not going to look at your concealed carry permit and say oh you’re automatically a good guy. But while it’s not proof positive it’s a darn good clue. A government very much like my own, maybe if you’re in my jurisdiction it was the same issuing authority, has check you out, has said, “okay, no criminal record, nothing frightening on the character background that would make us have a hearing and say look you may not have a criminal record but, trust us, we know this guy you don’t want him to have a gun in our community. So it’s a sign of being a good guy. But it’s certainly not proof positive.
Ivan: Now, we know that… I’m going to different question.. We know that men are a lot stronger than women. But I feel that there is some..
Mas: With all respect I’m a father of daughters. I can’t confirm that, but..
Ivan: …Also, there is some notion that because men are a lot stronger they tend to get into conflicts because that’s their biological role, they tend to get into conflicts a lot more often. Therefore men should be those who are ready to protect and they should be those who should be caring if somebody should be caring. Women don’t need to carry because they usually don’t get into physical altercations and they don’t usually get into these kinds of situations. Is that a valid argument for a woman to decide not to carry?
Mas: No, I don’t think so at all. I don’t think women should be dependent on their husbands for the checkbook, for deciding how to vote or deciding how to protect themselves. And, as a general rule in our society the mom will be spending more time with the children than the dad. So, for him to be able to protect them I guess he is going to have to quit work, quit any personal hobbies and contacts outside of the immediate family, and be in the house 24-7 but then what happens when he goes to sleep for eight hours? That could be a problem too. So, in a word, I would say that theory is bullshit. The female being more physically vulnerable I think is probably more at risk of attack and if anything needs the “equalizer”, if you will, more than does the 6’4” – 220 pounds husband.
Ivan: So, your personal advice is equally strong to both men and women. If you feel the need to carry – carry.
Ivan: Fantastic. And, last question. I’ve been wondering this myself as I’m learning more and more.. What do you think is the more appropriate shooting stance for defensive shooting is the modified Isosceles or the Weaver stance?
Mas: It depends first on the individual. We found certain body shapes will work better with one, certain will work better with the other. We teach the original classic Weaver with both elbows bent and asymmetric push-pull. And, the modified reverse – specifically the Chapman modification with their shoulders forward, gun arm locked, bent arm pulling the whole arm tight. And, the Isosceles – squared with a threat, arms extended. And, the reason is whatever your favorite stance is you’re not going to be able to step on to the ideal foot position if the night you need that gun you are safety belt-in on the front seat of a car, you’re standing on ice, you are standing up to your knees in snow, you’re standing on a stairway – you’re not going to be able to do your cute little range pivot and execute your perfect technique. But, if your body knows that it can flow from three o’clock and Isosceles for a right handed shooter to literally behind your back 180 degrees with a classic Weaver to break free one handed and get on this side 180.. or another complete 360 degrees, as well. You’ve essentially got 360 degree coverage. To think just the Weaver or just Isosceles to me is like teaching a boxer just the jab or just the cross or just the uppercut. Every fighter is going to have a favorite punch – a best punch – but a one-punch fighter is not going to last too long in the arena when the movement starts.
Ivan: So, let me see if I understand that correctly. First, you have to find out for yourself what works better for you, and second, you have to be trained in both, because in a dire situation you don’t have the time to think about it – you have to leave it to muscle memory or even availability of space. Is that correct?
Mas: That’s correct. The more your body knows how to do the more your body is going to be able to do it reflexively when the stimulus to do that comes.
Ivan: Final question. How important is a class like the one that we are taking today – like the MAG-20.
Mas: Well, it’s important to me because I do it for a living.. Thank you for coming. But, I do not want to see mandatory training as a full time trainer I’d be one of the greatest beneficiaries of that, but mandatory training means mandatory expense. And, a great many of the people who most need the ability to protect themselves with a gun are at an income level or a time in their life where they simply cannot afford that. And, that’s going to become an elitist thing where only the rich and powerful are going to be able to qualify. I do think where ever you got the training – whether it’s from a friend in the family who’s gotten out of the military or police or commercial sector, and he trains you, or whether you come to one of us in the private sector – the key thing is know what you’re doing. I don’t care if your dad taught you to drive on the farm or you learned to drive at day A.B.C. driving school – if you’re on the road behind a wheel I care that you know how to drive. I’d have really liked you to have gone to the Scotty School or the […] school, and, if your current skids, for you to know how to control that skid and steer out of it instead of spinning into my car with my grandchildren on the back seat. But, I can’t mandate that. And, I don’t think it would be fair to mandate that. All I can say is Knowledge is power. Whether you got it from me or somebody else the key thing is that you get it and apply it judiciously.
Ivan: I have to make a little confession on closing: What got me started on this road and what brought me to this class today was your “Deadly Force” book. Thank you very much for this interview, Mas.
Mas: Thank you, brother. It’s been a pleasure. Good luck to you and your viewers.
Ivan: Thank you very much, sir.
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