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Ayoob’s Law Of Necessary Hypocrisy

Sometimes, You Just Have To Make Do With
What You Know Is A Less Than Ideal Solution…

In my decades on masthead staff at GUNS magazine, I’ve been privileged to work with many fine editors and, to my great and enduring relief, no bad ones. One of those editors was Jerry Lee, who went on to become an editor for Petersen Publishing and then (and now) editor of Gun Digest. He was in the second of those positions when he asked me to write an article that wound up titled, “Ayoob’s Laws.”

It began kinda like this: “Ayoob’s Law No. 1: Be able to predict where the attack will come, and have a proven counter-attack already in place and poised for launch. Ayoob’s Law No. 2: Anyone arrogant enough to name laws after himself is arrogant enough to number them arbitrarily.”

And, somewhere in there, was “Ayoob’s Law of Necessary Hypocrisy.”

Ayoob’s Law of Necessary Hypocrisy holds thus… We will tell you: Do not do this thing! It is incredibly (expletive deleted) stupid. However, we realize you might be in a situation where you say “You ain’t where I am and I have to do this!” Therefore, it is our responsibility to show you the least incredibly (expletive deleted) stupid way of doing this incredibly (expletive deleted) stupid thing.


Mas demonstrates a handcuffing technique. Not usually taught to civilians, but…


I began training police in 1972 and law-abiding armed citizens in 1981. From the beginning of the latter endeavor, I taught private citizens the many reasons why they should never attempt to close in with a criminal suspect they were holding at gunpoint and attempt to disarm and handcuff him or tie him up. (Any experienced cop or corrections professional reading this knows the reasons why.) But, by the late 1980’s, in advanced classes I was teaching armed citizens one handcuffing technique.

Why? Two reasons. One was I had students who spent time in places so remote they had no communications that could reach the police, and had bought handcuffs for such purposes. The other was that I discovered the kind of people who would take my classes at Lethal Force Institute then, or Massad Ayoob Group now, were the kind of people who would come out of the crowd and help an embattled cop who was losing a fight on the street.


Micro .380’s like the Ruger LCP (above) aren’t ideal “man-stoppers,” but are
often the only compromise the armed citizen can make work. A J-frame revolver
like this S&W 340 M&P .357 Mag (below) has ample power, but requires training
commitment for hit potential and recoil control.


Applied to the Gun

How does the Law of Necessary Hypocrisy apply to defensive handguns? One example: I’m the guy who coined the phrase “friends don’t let friends carry mouse-guns,” and I personally don’t care to carry a .380; the best .38 Special and 9mm hollowpoints are my personal baseline minimum.

However, I work for myself and can dress how I like. The only environments in my life where I have to wear mandated clothing are part-time police work, where I’m expected to openly carry the department-issued .45, and court appearances, where most of my suits are tailored to hide a full-sized handgun that’s generally secured in a courthouse gun locker before I step into the courtroom anyway.

But I recognize a lot of people have more restrictive dress codes in “non-permissive environments,” and if someone has a choice of carrying a tiny Ruger LCP or equivalent .380 or nothing at all, I’d really rather they have that on their person than a .45 at home in the dresser when they’re attacked on the street.

The saying among those who study the history of gunfighting is absolutely true: “I’ve never met a gunfight survivor who wished he’d had a less powerful gun or less immediately-available ammunition.” That said, though, I don’t usually participate in Internet threads about “How much is enough?” There seems to be a meme on the gun-related Internet that says, “Those who carry more than I do are paranoid, and those who carry less than I do are pathetic ‘sheeple.’” I don’t buy that. As I write this I’m wearing a so-called “high capacity” 9mm pistol and spare magazine, and a backup J-frame S&W with 5 rounds of .38 +P and Speed Strip with 5 more. (It’s not hard with some thought, some ingenuity, and of course, habituation.) An adult lifetime of studying gunfights has taught me that with round count, “it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have.” Still, I recognize that my much younger self with the 5-shot Chief Special and no spare ammo was a heckuva lot safer than someone who had no gun at all, as that younger self learned on a dark and icy night by a dark and icy river in New England in 1971.
Which may be why my much older self is alive to discuss the matter in the year 2014.

Ayoob’s Law of Necessary Hypocrisy is one I invoke as little as possible. It should be taken in context with three other of Ayoob’s Laws.

1.) “Those who demand all or nothing generally end up with…nothing.”
2.) “Nothing is everything, but everything is something.” And, finally, a law someone invoked long before I did:
3.) “Something is better than nothing.”
By Massad Ayoob
Photos By Gail Pepin

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