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by Marty Hayes, J.D.

I start this month’s message sitting at a portable table on the private range of Herman Gunter III, who is a Massad Ayoob Group (MAG) staff instructor and host of MAG classes in the Florida Panhandle, near the city of Live Oak, FL. I just spent three days assisting with a Deadly Force Instructor course, certifying 17 firearms instructors through MAG to teach the nuances of use of deadly force by armed citizens in self-defense.

Ooley 2It is a calling and passion Massad Ayoob and I share. We thoroughly enjoy interacting with the top quality individuals in the class. In this class we had four attorneys, including a law professor. (Photos, Left: L-R: Massad Ayoob, Alex Ooley and Michael Ooley participate in a mock trial. Both Alex and Michael are Network affiliated attorneys. Below: Emeritus Professor of Law Joseph Olson.) Each indicated that our curriculum went far beyond what is covered in law school. In fact, one of the attorneys said he had received NO EDUCATION about use of deadly force law in law school. I don’t know about you, but personally, I find that frightening. When I attended law school 13 years ago, we actually had 90 minutes of instruction on deadly force law, but most of that was wrong. This is why we are teaching this course, and why we invite attorneys to come and get the training. One of the highlights of the course for most of the students is participating in the day-long mock trial, where each student participates as one of the testifying witnesses, a juror, or in the case of the attorneys, the judge, prosecutor or defense attorney. Attorneys can usually get CLE training credit for their participation, if they take the syllabus and run it by their bar association.

ProfJoeOlson 2This class is limited to active firearms instructors and to members of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. In fact, Network members receive a $100 discount off the $1,200 course tuition. Previous LFI or MAG graduates get a $200 discount, although you can’t claim both discounts. For five days of training, the tuition is surprisingly affordable. The one Use of Deadly Force Instructor course scheduled for 2018 is happening in a month in Austin, TX. Here is the link to KRTraining ( where the class is listed toward the bottom of the page. Karl Rehn of KR Training is hosting the course. There’s more information about the class at, but you should call Karl to register.

Advanced Training

But back to my Florida travels: After wrapping up the Deadly Force Instructor training, we went right into a MAG 120 class. This is Ayoob’s third level training course. He calls his MAG 120 graduates his black belts (equating it to traditional martial arts black belt). I have been one of his staff instructors since 1990, and if my teaching at The Firearms Academy of Seattle had a martial arts designation, Ayoob would be my sensei.

TeachingKids 2So, why am I sitting at the back of the range observing and writing this article instead of helping on the range? That is because it is the day that 16 students in this class serve as the instructors for a group of home-schooled children (and a few of their moms and dads). The children are guided through their first shots from a handgun. I remember participating in this program myself as a student/instructor back in 1990. Thinking about now, I wonder where that young man I worked with back then is, and I wonder if he carries a gun now.

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Southern Hospitality

This is my first experience of spending any prolonged period of time in the Deep South. Like most Northerners, I have heard all about the famous Southern hospitality. Well, I can now attest that it truly exists. What a treat to be invited into the home of Herman and Lieschen Gunter (shown in photo, left) for a week! They were wonderful hosts and just very fine people who went out of their way to make me feel welcome. They don’t have the students stay in their home, of course, but typically a class like this involves a half a dozen staff and many stay with the Gunters during the week-long training course.

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The Bible Belt

Like most Northerners, I had also heard of the “Bible Belt” although I never really knew what that meant. Well, the city of Live Oak, FL, has 93 churches and, I am told, only three bars. I think that explains what the “Bible Belt” means. Herman, as it turns out, is also an ordained minister. When his church fell on hard times a few years ago, he arranged to purchase the church property and now he actually owns his own church! I was privileged to attend a Sunday night service officiated by Reverend Gunter (in photo, left) and was very impressed with the whole thing, even though my singing was pretty rough.

The story would not be complete though, without mention of Lieschen’s world famous sourdough bread. Every morning she bakes fresh bread and takes it to the classroom for the students to nibble on throughout the day. It is so good, that even though I have never baked sourdough before, I am going to try the recipe she gave me when I get home.

Sitting here pondering this experience, I am reminded of why we started the Network. It was for people like those with whom I’ve spent this week–the Gunters, the MAG staff, MAG students and the people we all touch in the world of the gun. The Network is not going to solve the world’s problems, but I hope those people who join the Network sleep a little easier at night.

To read more of this month's journal, please click here.