Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Monday, January 12, 1998

Firearms expert hits his target in Hawaii

IT'S a mad, mad, asinine world. A bad guy breaks into a house at night, intent on burglary. Mom gets up and loads her pistol, which she has a permit for and which she is trained to shoot. Bang! The thief is maimed or killed, so he or his heirs turn around and sue the shaken homeowner - successfully.

Nutty but totally possible in this litigation-happy society.

Thank goodness, then, for instructors like Massad "Mas" F. Ayoob. The nationally recognized self-protection guru and author of 12 books was in Honolulu this weekend to teach a Lethal Force Institute class on the respect and use of handguns.

That means about 60 people - each paying $300 for the intense two-day seminar at the Honolulu Club - are now way more knowledgeable about the ramifications of pulling the trigger.

That's good news for them (in case they ever need to use their weapons for self-protection purposes) and even better news for a community that needs more nitwits spewing bullets like it needs another recession.

Ayoob, who looks like Edward James Olmos and sounds like James Earl Jones, is a no-nonsense, dramatic speaker. And the crowd - a blend of male and female doctors, lawyers, business execs, military, law-and-order types and senior citizens - took notes like crazy and hung onto his every perception.

After all, when you're a gun enthusiast in a state that doesn't allow its citizens to carry concealed weapons, compassion is craved. "Being a shooter in Hawaii is like being a surfer in Nebraska," Ayoob observed.

If knowledge equals might, the Syrian-American pistol-shooting champion managed to empower the info-hungry audience.

He told them that the only justifiable use of deadly force was "immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm to the innocent."

He reminded them that the gun is a "rescue" tool, whose mission is to provide a period of safety until trained, authorized professionals can reach the scene.

He shared anecdotes and cited examples in which gun owners had used their weapons in their own defense, but were thrown into prison because of inept lawyers.

The New Hampshire resident talked about incidents of murder, rape and assault; the awesome responsibility of owning a firearm; and how a shooter must establish that an assailant had the ability to cripple or kill, was capable of employing that power, and that jeopardy was imminent - or risk facing the consequences in the government crap shoot known as the judiciary.

It was scary, sobering and sometimes sickening stuff to ponder.

WHICH is exactly why Honolulu resident and gun dealer Steven Gendel wanted to bring Ayoob and his LFI course to the islands. "Mas is the only one who really teaches you how to protect yourself against the legal system," Gendel wrote in a recent newsletter.

In a perfect world, nobody has a gun or needs to have one. In an imperfect world like ours, people who shouldn't have guns wield them, and responsible people who follow the laws and take classes own them, too.

Now this little corner of the world may be a little more perfect, after 60 gun owners in Hawaii have been educated - via the philosophy and indoctrination of Mas Ayoob - about the irretrievable force that can save a life or shatter it, even if you're the good guy.

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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