7 Tips For Armed Citizens To Fight Terrorists (By Massad Ayoob)


Massad Ayoob has been teaching police and civilians about firearms and self-defense since 1974. He’s written for practically every gun magazine and has over 1,000 articles to his credit. Maybe you’ve heard of him …

In an earlier article, I discussed how armed civilians are the answer to more terrorist attacks on American soil. I quoted an article from over a decade ago by Massad Ayoob.

Today, I want to bring you five more tips from Massad for armed civilians that want to be ready to stop terrorist attacks if they ever find themselves in that unfortunate situation.


Go read the article when you have time, called “Defending against terroristic mass murder” by Massad Ayoob. Here’s some tips I wanted to highlight.

1. Always go armed whenever possible

While it may seem obvious to you and I, the presence of a good guy with a gun almost always helps in these types of terrorist attacks. The article cites numerous instances (from 2016) from the national Israeli intelligence provider, DEBKA (www.debka.com) where armed citizens helped stop terrorist attacks in Israel. It’s good reading and an important reminder about what works from a country that’s been dealing with terrorism for many decades.

2. Remember the risks of intervening …

Massad points out that, of course, there could be a danger of something going wrong if you intervene. You could get caught in friendly fire (or shoot the wrong person, as let’s remember, happens with a lot of police incidents).

But, he reminds us that the danger the liberals cry about are largely overblown, “The gun prohibitionists here in the States decry the armed citizen concept, claiming that “untrained civilians” will open fire wildly hoping to stop the mass-murderer and kill each other. The following is worth saying in all caps: NOTHING LIKE THAT HAS OCCURRED IN THE UNITED STATES, EVER!

3. Don’t draw your gun until you’re absolutely sure you need to.

Massad writes, “Don’t draw your gun until you have absolutely, certainly identified your target, and are ready to apply force. In all the predictable tumult, you don’t know what other good guys and gals are turning to see what they can do to stop it. They’ve heard the shots and screams, they see you, an unidentifiable person with a gun … and they may jump to the wrong conclusion. And, if the killer has an as-yet-unseen partner, you could end up like the martyred hero Joseph Wilcox in Las Vegas.”

4. Once you are done shooting, hide or holster the gun as soon as possible.

He goes on to say, “In the same vein, once you have the killer down, holster as soon as possible. You don’t know if other good folks, including arriving officers, have come in knowing someone is killing the innocent, and has just seen “unidentifiable you” gun down a man they don’t realize is the real danger. Minimizing the possibility of a mistaken identity shooting on either side of your gun is imperative.”

Another alternative to holstering as soon as possible, is to keep the gun out but hidden, so as not to look like the mass murderer you just engaged and avoid friendly fire that way.

Greg Ellifritz in this excellent article on weapon handling in an active killer event writes (emphasis mine) “If you choose to act, get your gun out of sight as soon as the threat is neutralized. Holster it. Keep your hand on the gun if you think you need to, but don’t be in a high-profile shooting stance. If you feel safe doing so, put your hands up in the air to show responding cops that you aren’t a threat. Position “Sul” is useful here too if the threat is still active. Even a modified “Sul” with the weak hand hiding the gun would be a good option. The closer the gun is to the body, the less visible it is to responding cops. If the other hand is shielding it, even better.

5. Practice marksmanship (especially head shots!)

“Understand that marksmanship skill will be critical!” Massad Ayoob continues, “The scenario is likely to contain multiple, panicking, running, innocent people. More and more, police are training to go for brain shots on terrorists. They may be wearing “bomb vests” that can be detonated by a bullet’s impact, killing or maiming every innocent victim within a radius of many yards of the wearer. They may also be wearing bullet-resistant vests. In Tyler, Texas, some years ago, heroic armed citizen Mark Wilson stopped a mass murder at a courthouse when he shot down the AK-wielding gunman. However, his bullets had stopped on the murderer’s concealed ballistic vest, and while Wilson was reloading, he was killed when the gunman jumped back up and shot him. The killer fled, and was subsequently slain by a heroic Tyler cop, Rusty Jacks, whose hand I am proud to say I was later able to shake in congratulation.”

“Another rationale for the brain shot was seen in a recent case in Israel, which you can find on Google or YouTube. Security cameras caught the jihadi using his car to run up on the sidewalk and crush a rabbi to death, and then jump out of the vehicle and begin stabbing. An armed citizen shot him down. He jumped back up, was shot down again, and then it happened again. Two lessons: a brain shot keeps killers down, and the 9mm full metal ammunition believed to have been used in that incident is notorious for poor “stopping power.” Have your handgun loaded with hollow points: they’re distinctly more dynamic on body shots, and also less likely to ricochet off a human skull and be deflected from their underlying target.”

Again, as I’ve written before, practice your head shots!

6. Consider shooting from the kneeling position

Here’s one that I don’t practice enough, although I should …

“With all those bystanders in mind, be prepared to drop to kneeling or a deep crouch when you fire, so a bullet that misses or over-penetrates the killer is more likely to pass over the heads of anyone behind him.”

This is great advice if you can apply it. All your shots going up at an angle, if any miss, or pass through, should be less likely to hit an innocent on the scene. Remember safety rule #4, be sure of your target and what’s beyond it. Plan accordingly.

7. Use cover and concealment.

Lastly, Ayoob reminds us, “And, as always, take the best cover you can. Whether he’s dispensing bullets or bombs, you’re in the path of the killer’s destruction.”

Remember, cover stops bullets (concrete, metal, dirt, etc) while concealment only hides you. It’s a good practice to look around wherever you go and try to identify cover and/or concealment in case anything happens.



  1. I have read Ayoob’s gun magazine articles for 30 years. He is an inspiration to training and wisdom. He should be featured on all publications where people can profit from his experience in life

    • before I take a position or spend time/money,
      training is good, what practical/real life documented experiences have these “trainers” had.

  2. The one reason you need a head shot, IMHO, a bomb vest, being detonated whilst the wearer is flat on his back, 50% of the blast is going in to the ground, even if on concrete, the nails and such, is going back up into the terrorists body.
    And even the top of the terrorists body, is much more deadly, if they are vertical.

  3. Good article and no surprise at the source. Ayoob pretty much always talks common sense. Number 1 is critical, but if you don;t train you will not have the skills to make carrying your gun count at the critical moment. Dealing with terrorists is different from dealing with common criminals. terrorists train. They are encouraged to do so by their mentors, and they do their homework. They’ve already made the commitment to kill people and die if need be, they will not run away like some punk in a motel parking lot. If you intend to intervene, then prepare. Practice head shots at long ranges and know your chosen gun intimately, no matter what it is.

  4. Three elements of Gun Safety:
    1. Treat every weapon as if it is loaded.
    2. Make sure of your target. Make sure of what can be in front of your target AND what is behind your target.
    3. Never present a weapon unless you intend to shoot. If you shoot, shoot to kill.

  5. For those of us who are looking to learn from Mr. Ayoob’s vast experience and presentation skills, can anyone explain what the “Sul” position involves and how it is best used?

  6. I have many firearms and sometimes I would carry up to 4 when working in the ghetto. Here is the real life problem: To be good, extremely good, one should only carry one and possibly a back up piece. Every gun has an intrinsic requirement. Say you use a 1911, that is great because you have learned to condition yourself for the safeties. One day, you decide you are going to carry the Glock. Instinct will have you for a split second looking for those safeties, or vice versa. It costs time. Time that you may not be able to afford!
    One needs to be extremely comfortable with the firearm he is carrying, in which it serves as an extension of your hand.
    Now, what is comfortable to me, may not be comfortable to others. I rely on the Glock Model 30 .45 with RIP bullets alternating between silver tips. That is my carry piece. My back up is the same. This way I have 6 interchangable magazines with 60 rounds total as well as 2 more, one in each tube. With a .45 and the bullets I carry, I do not worry if the bullet is going t bounce from the bad guy’s head and deflect. With what I carry, his head might fall off!
    I do not know what the cop used in Ferguson, whether it was a 9mm or a .40, but look at all the holes he had to put in a big guy like Michael Brown and to me, whatever he had was underpowered! Personally, I look at 9 mms as hole punchers lacking sufficient stopping power. What if? What if the cop would have had a 45 with hollow points? It could have been a win win. Brown might have lived, but he would have most likely been stopped on a first or second shot. The cop would have been happy because he stopped the threat!
    As I stated, my personal preference is .45 and I don’t have to screw with an external safety. For years, I felt secure with the external safety though.
    These days because my right hand is taken up by the use of a cane, I had to shed time. From the time it takes me to drop my cane and have my concealed firearm out and ready to shoot is 1.5 seconds, every time! Of course that is for what happens on the street and not with a terrorist.
    As the terrorist paradigm goes, the rules are in fact different. The terrorist must be killed, where something on the street and our laws require stopping the threat and not intentionally killing him.

  7. There also is one other thing. Before you start shooting there more than likely will have people running in all directions. Make sure none are running between you and the target. It doesn’t help when you end up killing an innocent person.

  8. […] Fake Book. Even though the boy has a muzzie sounding name..he seems to know what hes talking about. 7 Tips For Armed Citizens To Fight Terrorists (By Massad Ayoob) | Prepared Gun Owners Reply With […]

  9. Reading this brought back some bad memories. Mark Wilson was a good friend and business partner in that I invested in the indoor shooting range he developed in Tyler. Rusty Jacks was a team mate when I served as a SWAT medic on the Tyler PD Special Operations Team. Mas and I have met on several occasions at the Rangemaster Tac-Con. Thank you for mentioning the incident so that Mark’s and Rusty’s heroism, and the lessons we can take from them, are not forgotten. Godspeed. See you at Tac Con 18.

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