Review of Deadly Force, Understanding Your Right to Self Defense by Massad Ayoob
by Kirk Lawson
If you have been in the firearms community for more than a second, you have probably heard of Massad (Mas) Ayoob. Mr. Ayoob is a retired police officer, Expert Witness, firearms and defensive tactics trainer, entrepreneur, and author. Mr. Ayoob is probably best known for his books and articles about police use of force and non-police legal self defense, spanning 4 decades or so. Mr. Ayoob was catapulted into the consciousness of the firearms community with his 1980 book, In the Gravest Extreme, The Role of Firearms in Personal Protection. Since then, Mr. Ayoob has been a veritable force of nature in the community, writing book after book, lecturing, teaching, founding The Lethal Force Institute, contributing to standards, writing innumerable magazine articles, and educating the public.
This 2014 book, Deadly Force, Understanding Your Right to Self Defense, is a handbook on how to approach the use of deadly force in self defense for a civilian in the U.S. while staying legal and ethical. It is a straight-up education on subjects which anyone in the U.S. training, armed or unarmed, with firearms or any other tool, should know.
In 14 chapters, he covers in overview and then in detail subjects such as 3 of what I call the "pillars of justifiable deadly force:" Ability, Opportunity, and Jeopardy, each of them getting their own chapter. As he drives into details, he also addresses some common myths and misconceptions. This ranges from the old classic of "if you shoot him outside your house, drag him inside" (please do not do this), to an entire chapter explaining "Castle Doctrine" and "Stand Your Ground" laws in the U.S.
Mr. Ayoob frequently refers to established case law, gives examples, and delves deep into one classic and internationally contentious case of deadly force self defense in the U.S. This helps bring home, clarify, and explain many of the concepts he discusses.
More than just the legal requirements, Mr. Ayoob spends a little time exploring the ethical considerations as well. Not just "can I legally?" but also "should I?" While this is becoming a more popular topic of discussion in the firearms-for-self-defense community, Mr. Ayoob came to the discussion a little earlier than some and his participation in it lends weight to the concept. While firearms trainers often hear some variation of the question, "when can I shoot him?" the question more properly might be, "when do I no longer have a choice and must?
Bottom line, do I recommend this book? Judging from the amount of yellow highlighter I have put on the pages and the number of dog-eared corners, well, unequivocally yes. Most definitely add this book to your collection. Read it, digest its contents, apply the lessons to your "readiness posture."