This past week has brought us the sad news of the passing of three good men, all stalwart supporters of the right to self-defense and the responsible bearing of arms. In order of their departures:

A week ago today J. Michael Plaxco departed. “Mike” to his friends and “John” in the business world (to keep his accounts straight), he was to the best of my knowledge the first (and perhaps still the only) competitive shooter to win the triple crown of National IPSC Champion, World Speed Shooting Champion, and winner of my all-time favorite match known then as “Second Chance” and today as “The Pin Shoot” (  Mike was a gentleman with a sense of humor, and a kind way of correcting the students (myself included) who came to his brilliantly taught shooting classes. One of the stars of Team Smith & Wesson on shooting’s pro tour, he had previously pioneered an expansion-chamber recoil compensator for powerful handguns that is used to this day.  My own favorite “comp gun” is a Springfield Armory 1911A1 .45 that he built for me back in the ‘80s, and with which thanks to his skill I won a bunch of matches.  Mike wasn’t quite yet 70 at the time of his death, which ended a long and agonizing painful physical issue compounded by other problems. You can still find his excellent book on the psychology and techniques of victory in shooting competitions, “Shooting From Within,” on

The next passage I learned of this past week was that of Rosco Benson. Readers of Combat Handguns magazine will remember him as the man depicted demonstrating practical draw-shoot-and have cover self defense techniques from concealed carry in Rick Miller’s tactical shooting column.  Mr. Benson was the only one of the three we lost this week whom I didn’t know personally. However, I always enjoyed his commentary on our mutual friend Evan Marshall’s forum, and one magazine editor I spoke with about Rosco’s death this week said he thought he remembered some of Benson’s own articles. He was content to stand in the background as he demonstrated things people needed to know: humble and articulate, the essence of a good role model.

Most recently I was informed of the death this week of my old friend Sam Slom, with whom I served for many years on the board of trustees of the Second Amendment Foundation ( Sam was the hard-working secretary of SAF and for many, many years was the one voice of reason in the wilderness of Hawaii’s State Legislature, where he was sometimes known as “the lone ranger” because he was often the only elected Republican in that particular chamber in that particularly blue state. Sam was 81.

It’s almost a cliché at such moments to say “rest in peace” and “we are diminished.” But clichés become so usually because they are true, and in the cases of Sam, Mike and Rosco we in the gun owners’ civil rights movement are indeed diminished by their loss.

They have all, each in their way, left a legacy of protection of human rights and in particular, the right of self-defense, and indeed earned their right to Rest In Peace.


  1. So sorry to hear of the loss of your friends and colleagues. From your description it sounds like they left some big shoes to fill. Extending thoughts and prayers to you and to their families. ??

  2. Always said to hear the passing of another great role model. For those that I’ve known personally , my first thought is an appreciation for those they have trained and led by example. I don’t know what’s on the other side but I like to think that Odin will be there when we all meet again in Valhalla.

  3. We as a community are diminished by their loss, and yet better off due to their legacies that remain.

  4. My condolences to their families and friends. When someone we love goes to Heaven it is hard because of love. Our world is better for people like these, they are leaders, their integrity has laid the foundations we know stand on. This is often true that people we have not met do things to make our world and our lives better. May God bless them and their families and friends.

  5. I’m sorry for your loss, Mas.
    The world is no doubt greater for their time here but lesser for their passing.

  6. Please mention some of the up-and-coming gals and gals. They would welcome a mention and I for one look forward to better days. This was a big hit.

  7. I had the pleasure to see Rosco at work many times. I thought because I read every issue of Combat Handguns and American Handgunner, of which I still have premiere issues of both.
    I thought I knew a lot about guns, until I ran into Rosco, and then realized I had a lot to learn.
    He was always glad to stop and talk after seeing him in Rick Miller’s articles in Combat Handguns.
    His philosophy on the 1911 being obsolete in his post on the 1911 forum is masterful.
    I will probably find my self going back over those old magazine articles, and smiling when
    I see Mas and John Farnham surprising each other in photos. John could make some funny faces when he got caught.

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