Firearms Myths: A Massad Ayoob Story

Corey Ritter, our editor, has quite a sense of humor. He assigned me to write an article on a book-length topic: myths about firearms. He’s a funny guy. But I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, so I decided to give it a shot. Let’s start with just a few of the current ones that we find on the gun-related Internet.

From Our Own Side

Some gun-related Internet forums turn up ridiculous statements. One I’ve heard is, “Why should I practice defensive shooting with a rifle or at 25 yards with a pistol when if you shoot someone more than seven yards away, you’ll be convicted of murder?” That might be true if the man you shot was standing 25 yards away and waving a knife or club while screaming threats but was stock-still or an unarmed man the same 75 feet away. A bad guy with a gun is another thing entirely: he has a remote-controlled weapon that can be used to kill at great distances. In Indiana, a young man stopped a mass murder with a flurry of accurate shots from his 9mm Glock 19, starting at forty or more yards away from the criminal gunman.

A senior citizen in Texas used his Colt Python .357 Magnum from some 60 yards away to shoot down a multiple murderer who had a policeman pinned down, saving the cop’s life and ending the murder spree. They were properly treated like the heroes they were by their society. And let’s not forget the 1966 rampage of the Texas Tower sniper in Austin: it is generally recognized that rifle fire from private citizens on the ground pinned down the mass murderer and stopped the killing until another armed citizen led police to the top of the tower, and fired the first shot in the final battle that ended the madman’s life.  

We also hear, “A five-shot gun is all I need; if that doesn’t do the job, I’ll just run away.” Those who espouse that line never have an answer for “How do you outrun the bad guy’s bullets, and if you could do so safely, why didn’t you do that in the beginning and avoid the whole damn gunfight?”

S&W revolver and pistol
If immediately threatened by multiple armed criminals, which of these Smith & Wesson handguns would you want in your hand?

From the Other Side

OMG, where do we start? Consider “gun buybacks” a misnomer from the beginning since, by definition, one cannot “buy back” something that they never owned or sold in the first place. Most of these are anonymous and have become a great way for criminals to get rid of murder weapons and get paid to boot. The only other people likely to turn them in are those who’ve inherited guns with no knowledge of their value: countless poor widows have turned in for $100 each rare, collectible firearm worth thousands of dollars. And…” gun buybacks” simply don’t work to reduce crime.

A rare S&W revolver
This rare, uncataloged S&W Model 45 fixed sight S&W .22, built for a US Postal Service contract, is worth big bucks…but an unsuspecting widow would get only $100 for it at a typical “buyback.” Photo from author’s files.

“Why can’t you gun nuts at least agree to register your guns like we register our cars?” For one thing, there aren’t many people who want to confiscate our vehicles, but the gun prohibitionists have made it excruciatingly clear that they want to confiscate our firearms, as totalitarian regimes have always historically done. The Nazis used registration lists to disarm Germany’s own Jews and then all the populations they conquered, often on pain of death for failing to surrender the firearms. Finally, the only people in America who would be exempt from registration would be convicted criminals and other prohibited persons!

Anyone who doesn’t believe that is invited to look up the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Haynes v. United States, which held that prohibited persons could not be required to register their illegally possessed guns because it would violate their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

We also hear, “The Second Amendment is meaningless because ordinary people with rifles couldn’t defeat a superpower with tanks, countless divisions of soldiers, and nuclear weapons.” Really? Tell that to the Ukrainians, who’ve done a pretty amazing job of holding back the Russians so far and have been issuing real assault rifles (with full machine gun capability) to their private citizens to defend their homeland. Or, tell it to the Afghans who’ve fought off two superpowers with rifles and improvised explosive devices. Tell it to the Taliban, which inherited a reported 650,000 American true assault rifles, M16s and M4s, when our current administration ordered a pull-out.

And, of course, even after Supreme Court decisions to the contrary, we still hear, “The Founders intended the Second Amendment for something like the National Guard.” Good Lord: the men who wrote the Bill of Rights were mostly Revolutionary War veterans whose ears were still ringing from the War of Independence, in which they had defeated the most powerful organized military on Earth at that time. A National Guard of the period would have been under the rule of King George and duty-bound to kill fellow American colonists.

On the personal protection issue, we hear, “You don’t need those 18-shot 9mm pistols and 30-shot .223 rifles! If there’s trouble, just call the police.” The only trouble there is pesky things like math and the time-space continuum. The most common average police response time quoted is around eleven minutes. After that, the police will finally get there. With their 18-shot 9mm pistols and 30-round .223 rifles. And will arrive too late to do much but count the corpses from the latest mass murder.

Decades ago, anyone who asked their family physician, “Show me how to do closed chest cardiac massage on a heart attack patient,” would have been told, “Who made YOU a physician? Go to medical school if you want to know how to do what we do for patients in extremis!” But by the 1970s, society had figured out that with irreversible brain death setting in by five minutes after the heart stopped beating – and the ambulance 10 or 15 minutes away – it made more sense for people to know what we now call CPR, and in the 2020s in America you’re seen as a bit socially derelict if you don’t know how to keep someone’s heart beating until the emergency medical service can get there to take over.

Those same 70 years ago, the only people who kept fire extinguishers in their homes were firefighters themselves and the handful of citizens who had survived house fires. Today, we’re seen as negligent if we don’t have extinguishers in the home or even in our vehicles. Same reason, same thinking.

What’s the difference? The privately owned defensive firearm is a direct analog to emergency medical skills and tools, and the fire extinguisher is a piece of emergency life-saving rescue equipment designed for the ordinary good citizen who is there at the dangerous scene – the true first responder, not the dot-gov paramedic, firefighter, or police officer – in time to save the innocent lives in jeopardy when there is no time to wait for the designated professionals!

The reality is we are our own first responders. But if we don’t have the wherewithal to stop the given threat, we are helpless to save lives that could have been preserved if we’d had the proper equipment to deal with the predictable threat.

The media has made mass murder a trending crime by hugely publicizing those who perpetrate it. The Columbine High School killers wound up on the covers of Time and Newsweek. One of the Boston Marathon Bombers lived to literally “see his face on the cover of the Rolling Stone.” Yet each of those mass media outlets has called for disarming the law-abiding American populace. Hypocrisy, right?

Oh, and let’s not forget, “Gun-free zones will save us!” Consider the following:

Everyone remembers that on July 20, 2012, a mad dog killer murdered a dozen people and wounded seventy more in an Aurora, Colorado theater. He appeared to have expressly selected that spot as his target because it was a “gun-free zone.” By edict, there were no armed people inside who could have stopped his rampage.

But the gun prohibitionists don’t want you to know that in the exact same city less than three months before, another mad dog killer attacked an African-American church, shot a single victim, and before he could claim anymore, was shot dead by an armed parishioner.

82 victims in the “gun-free zone,” only one in the “zone” where good guys were allowed to be armed. It isn’t hard to do the math. The math was even easier during one 24-hour period in May of 2022, when an evil young monster murdered 19 kids and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, and wounded more. But in West Virginia during the same time frame, another vicious psychopath opened fire on a crowd. Before he could even wound a single victim, he was shot dead by a woman who was present with a handgun and a concealed carry permit. We will never know how many lives that strong woman saved.

Of course, there are many more myths, but I have run out of space as the editor and I both knew I would. If you want to discuss more gun myths in this space, let the editor know in the commentary provided here. Many other writers in the MagLife stable and I are ready to share them.

Massad "Mas" Ayoob is a well respected and widely regarded SME in the firearm world. He has been a writer, editor, and law enforcement columnist for decades, and has published thousands of articles and dozens of books on firearms, self-defense, use of force, and related topics. Mas, a veteran police officer, was the first to earn the title of Five Gun Master in the International Defensive Pistol Association. He served nearly 20 years as chair of the Firearms Committee of the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers and is also a longtime veteran of the Advisory Bard of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. A court-recognized expert witness in shooting cases since 1979, Ayoob founded the Lethal Force Institute in 1981 and served as its director until 2009. He continues to instruct through Massad Ayoob Group,

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