Mas Ayoob is the expert when it comes to the legal aspects on the use of lethal force. For many years I had tried to attend one of Ayoob's courses, but it seemed like something always got in the way. Finally, this last week, I was able to attend his MAG20 class, and I have to say it was one of the best courses I've ever attended.
On Ayoob's website, Massad Ayoob Group
, this class is described as a "two-day, 20-hour immersion course in the rules of engagement for armed law-abiding private citizens, emphasizing legal issues, tactical issues, and aftermath management." Two things. First, it is an immersion class. There were two ten-hour days in the classroom with very few breaks, a "working" lunch, and a non-stop flow of information. I took away sixteen pages of bullet-point notes. Second, I recommend this class for anyone who carries a firearm. There were several law-enforcement officers in the class, and they all stated the class was applicable to their job too.
The fact that everyone in the class stayed seated and focused is testament to how interesting and informative the class was. The class covered a variety of subjects in depth, starting with the doctrine of "the reasonable man." What would a reasonable person have done, in the exact same situation, knowing what you knew at that moment?
Throughout the class the focus was on the ability to defend your actions after being forced to use your weapon, which may lead to the death of the threat. Formulating an "Affirmative Defense" is critical, and it starts by being able to fully document your training in a format that is admissible in court. So, one thing that was different from other courses I've attended was that about half the content was presented using pre-recorded lectures. Ayoob explained that this was so the content presented was always the same, and as such admissible in court.
Attending this class also makes everything real, bringing home the fact that carrying a weapon, and if necessary using it, will have consequences associated with it. Sometimes long after the fact. Several examples he mentioned took years to get the facts straight and legally clear the shooter of all wrongdoing. Planning your legal defense in a justified use of force case is even more complicated than the training and practice you do in order to carry and use the weapon safely and efficiency.
Firearms training and practice is a key part to owning a weapon for self-defense. But, training and practicing with your weapon is only part of the package. You also have to understand the legal aspects involved, what you can and can't do, and what to expect if you are required to use your weapon. There are a lot of ways to acquire this knowledge, but one of the best is to attend a course with Ayoob.
Preparing for trouble involves a variety of different approaches. Owning a firearm requires a well-rounded education, especially when it comes to the legal aspects on the use of lethal force. You prepare and train, hoping you never have to use your weapon, but if it is necessary, you must be prepared for what follows.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns," writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html