Monday, November 25, 2013

Review - Massad Ayoob’s Mag-20 . . .


As individuals who carry a firearm for personal defense we are faced with a wide range of challenges. The stigma of being one of those “gun nuts”. The process and responsibility of learning the firearm and the skills to defend ourselves, our families and those around us. The life-long demands placed on us to maintain our skillset as well as to broaden it and improve our abilities. It’s expensive. It’s time consuming. It’s necessary.

An individual who takes this responsibility seriously will spend untold thousands on firearms, equipment, training and ammunition to insure they are “prepared” should the unthinkable happen – that a day arrives that they will need to draw their weapon and kill an attacker that is about to harm them, their family or a friend. We all pray that day never happens. We all work diligently on the gun fighting skills that may save our lives in the brief seconds it takes to begin and end such a fight. There is another piece to the puzzle.

What we all too often forget is that wining the gunfight is just the very beginning of a life-altering event . . . the taking of a life . . . and the defense of our actions in a court of law. Both can deprive us of our life. Losing a gunfight can terminate our life in an instant. Losing in court can as well . . . just not as quickly. Or, it can impoverish us and our families for the remainder of our lives. While it is certainly important to learn the physical skills necessary to engage an existential threat and end it . . . it is every much as important to spend some time learning how to defend ourselves in today’s legal system.

Enter Massad Ayoob and the MAG-20 “Armed Citizens’ Rules of Engagement”.

From the MAG-20 course description:

A two-day, 20-hour immersion course in rules of engagement for armed law-abiding private citizens, emphasizing legal issues, tactical issues, and aftermath management. Topics will include interacting with suspects, witnesses, responding police officers…threat recognition and mind-set…management of social and psychological aftermath after having had to use lethal force in defense of self or others…and preparing beforehand for legal repercussions and minimizing exposure to them. Situations in the home, at the place of business, or “on the street” will all be covered.

Read that first few words slowly . . . 2-days . . . 20 hours. We actually ran just a bit over that . . . and simply worked through lunch – eating and note taking as the class rolled on. This course started out full speed from the opening sentence and ended just as strongly the following evening.

Mas and Me 1 (Medium)

Day One focused on building the foundation of the “Rules of Engagement” for an armed citizen. How will police, investigators, courts, prosecutors, your defense attorney evaluate your armed encounter. Words matter and it is a good introduction to the words used to describe everything from “reasonable and prudent person” to thoughts on how juries are selected. How do you catalogue your “training” – both formal course-work as well as independent reading and continuing education? How does the law evaluate your actions? What is deadly or lethal force? What could you be charged with? How do the words “Ability”, “Opportunity”, “Jeopardy” come into play?

In the event of a lethal encounter – can you articulate why you did what you did? Why did you carry THAT gun? Use THAT ammunition? Why didn’t you retreat?

All this comes in just the first hour or so of 20 solid hours of lecture. From someone who is arguably the nation’s foremost expert witness. And you begin to realize . . . to begin to understand . . . threats to your life – your freedoms – go well beyond the guy with the gun that lay dead in your living room.

This course was unique to many I’ve taken in that there is very little written material that is distributed. Instead – over the course of 20 hours I took nearly 70 pages of very detailed notes. Prior to the course I wondered just how well this would work simply because so many instructors push books, push videos . . . notes? . . . Really?? The final result was surprising – the process of listening, writing and reviewing my notes did a solid job of transferring very complicated information. And the exercises that will be completed over the next few weeks will help solidify it even more.

Beginning in the early 80s, Mas began teaching armed citizens a set of “Rules of Engagement” to provide the citizen a skill set to defend themselves in our legal system – as well as “on the street”. Over the past 30+ years, he’s become one of the nation’s foremost expert witnesses – evaluating evidence, crime scenes, events . . . all with an eye towards informing the citizen on how to best conduct themselves to stay out of trouble . . . and lending his expert skills should the unthinkable happen.

One of the benefits of graduating from any of his MAG courses is the use of his expert witness services free of charge . . . yep, that’s right – cost free to graduates. That insurance alone is worth the admission price . . .

And – given today’s atmosphere regarding armed citizens, learning the skills you need to defend yourself in the aftermath at the crime scene, in the interrogation room, in court . . . in addition to those you have learned on the shooting range . . . just makes so much sense to me.

Bottom line – the MAG-20 course is simply a MUST for any armed citizen. Should you find yourself in the situation where you had to take a life to save yours, or that of a family member or friend – you need specific skills to help defend your actions in the legal system. I cannot think of a better starting point than Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 “Armed Citizens’ Rules of Engagement”.


  1. It's on my list... sigh... Actually I want to do the MAG-40.

  2. Jim - Kelly . . . yep, needs to be on your list. He's coming back here next year . . . and the Amana's are waiting . . . :)

  3. Thanks for the info, so much to learn!

  4. A most excellent write up! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.