WUFT News

As Florida Gun Debate Swirls, Massad Ayoob Explains ‘Reasonable Fear’ In Gun Safety Courses

By on December 23rd, 2013

Massad Ayoob class 3 A room of disciples sat in silence in the fellowship hall of First Covenant Presbyterian Church in Live Oak on a cold October morning this year.

The sermon was about fear.

“Fear is to the mind what pain is to the body,” the preacher said as he walked down the aisle of students in a black leather jacket, a gun holster on his hip.

Massad Ayoob, or Uncle Mas, as his pupils call him, is an  NRA lifetime member, firearms instructor, part-time police officer, and self-defense expert. He started the second day of a 40-hour lesson on self-defense with a speech that waxed philosophical. His baritone voice, roughened by smoking packs of Marlboro daily was that of a wise elder.

He told the students only reasonable fear was justifiable. The 37 students took notes diligently. They would learn about Stand Your Ground, the Castle Doctrine and other aspects of self-defense law from Ayoob.

The blinds of the choir room were closed, but the sun shone in – good news for the rest of the day. After the legal lesson, he would take his students out to a gun range to put theory to practice.

He’s taught the course to groups from Onalaska, Wash., to Enfield, N.H., since 1981. This one costs $800 per person.

Massad Ayoob class 2Herman Gunter is a white-haired church elder at First Covenant Presbyterian Church. He is a Live Oak resident and owner of a private gun range, which he offers for the course.

Gunter said he offers all the participants a 100 dollar subsidy because it’s lifechanging.

Gunter first took the class in 1983 and  since then, Gunter’s seven children and wife have taken the class too.

Gunter’s range at the bottom of an abandoned limestone quarry swallows the bullets and the explosions that sound like firecrackers. It’s an ideal location to shoot 500 rounds over four days of the course.

The small town with a population just under 7,000 is three hours north of Sanford, the suburban town at the center of a national controversy over the death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin.

Although the Zimmerman legal team never cited Stand Your Ground as part of the defense for the Trayvon Martin case, the addition to the Florida self-defense law raised questions about using lethal force.

Even before Stand Your Ground became a controversial topic, Ayoob incorporated this blueprint for articulating danger in court to prevent unjust incrimination in self-defense cases.

When describing the class, he is cautious.

He says if anyone tells you it’s a way to get away with murder, it’s not true. He calls it empowering, the same as teaching someone first aid.

Ayoob calls a gun a “mechanical force multiplier” and is keen on referring to the layers of safety protocol that he teaches before going to the gun range. Anyone taking the course has to provide proof of a clean criminal background.

The participants of MAG40 all had one thing in common: a sense that they needed to be more prepared. Jodi Batten, 41, picked up a gun when she got divorced after a 22-year marriage. Now, as a NRA certified pistol instructor, she volunteers at the firing line.

She says that anyone who carries a gun should taken the class. It’s about confidence and competence,” Batten said.

Scott Oglesby, 46, is a licensed federal firearms dealer. He taught his two daughters and son how to shoot a handgun when they turned 12.

He steps up to the firing line and shoots eight rounds with his left hand, the less dominant one. The bronze cartridges fly in all directions. Oglesby backs away from the firing line, taking off the protective goggles and earplugs.

“It’s about personal protection, not John Wayne or cowboys,” he explained. He said that he was always familiar with shooting because of his rural upbringing , but it wasn’t until his best friend was killed seven years ago that he started to learn more about criminal law.

Sid Burns, another student, is a retired police officer. He said that in rural areas, there’s no way to protect the entire population. With a growing population spread out over more territory and sparse local budgets, police can’t compete with crime. Owning a gun is like having a fire extinguisher in your house, he explained.


This entry was posted in Florida. Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Florida

Cassidy, an 18-month-old Lab/American Bulldog mix who was part of Academy 14 and his inmate trainer.

Paws On Parole Looking To Continue Perfect Adoption Rate

The Alachua County Animal Services and Florida Department of Corrections Work Camp is working together with this year’s “Hairy Pawter” dog academy to prepare a new group of house-trained dogs for homes.


A wild hog mills around outside the runway enclosure of Williston Municipal Airport. The hogs often explore around a water source by the neighboring rock quarry, Barry said.

Hog Infestation Halts Historic Airport Runway

A hog infestation at Williston Municipal Airport’s grass runway is causing delays in the approval of the runway by the Federal Aviation Administration.


Photos of the "Incredible Flying Cars," made by ITEC.

The Men Behind the Flying Car That Crashed in Marion County

A flying car crashed on Tuesday in Marion County after going on an orientation flight. Two passengers suffered minor injuries but are currently safe.


Gov. Scott Announced Funding For Final Phase Of Restoration Projects

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced funding for the third and largest phase of early restoration projects to combat the Deepwater Horizon (BP) Oil Spill of 2010 on Oct. 7. Although $100 million was allocated to Florida by the Deepwater Horizon [...]


Florida bay scallops typically reach a shell height of three inches and have a life expectancy of one year. They have tiny blue eyes that help detect movement, and they can swim backward by opening and closing the two shells.

Scallop Researchers to Start Underwater Surveying

Now that the harvesting season is over, researchers are starting underwater studies to determine the state of scallop populations at 10 sites along the west coast of Florida.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments