Tom Diaz

Tom Diaz on Tom Diaz

Tom DiazTom Diaz is a lawyer, author, journalist, and an accomplished public speaker.

Diaz was formerly Democratic Counsel to the Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. He worked for then-Rep. Charles E. Schumer.  His principal brief covered issues related to terrorism and firearms.

Prior to his staff work for the Congress, Diaz studied and wrote about terrorism and transnational organized crime at the National Strategy Information Center in Washington, DC.  Before joining NSIC, he was assistant managing editor for news for six years at The Washington Times newspaper, where his earlier beats as a reporter included the Supreme Court and national security matters.

Most recently Diaz was senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization that studies the gun industry, its products, and their impact on crime, death, and injury in the United States.


  •  The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It (The New Press, Spring 2013).
  • No Boundaries: Transnational Latino Gangs and American Law Enforcement (The University of Michigan Press, 2009).
  • Lighting Out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil (With Barbara Newman) (Random House, 2006).
  • Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America (The New Press, 1999).

Recent Articles and Monographs

  •  “Fort Hood and Its Aftermath: An Archetype of Guns and Gun Violence in America,” Government, Law and Policy Journal, (The New York State Bar Association), Summer 2012.
  •  “Understanding the Smith & Wesson M&P15 Semiautomatic Assault Rifle Used in the Aurora, Colorado Mass Murder,” Violence Policy Center, July 2012
  •  “The Militarization of the U.S. Civilian Firearms Market,” Violence Policy Center, June 2011,
  •  “Iron River: Gun Violence and Illegal Firearms Trafficking on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” Violence Policy Center, March 2009.

Personal Statement

The Last Gun.coverMy passions are history, art, the roots and mechanisms of modern terrorism, international criminal activity, and the nature of the American civilian firearms market.

bookcoversmallFew human beings are monsters.  But they too frequently get caught up in passions that make them behave collectively as if they were two-legged monsters–cruel, inhuman, brutal.  Modern terrorism, the Spanish Inquisition and its secular and modern spawn, Nazism and the Holocaust, are examples. I like trying to figure out what currents and artifacts of a given society and history over time give rise to and fuel these and other monstrous phenomena. Why, for example, are Americans willing to accept 30,000 deaths from firearms every year, many of which are preventable, but spend billions of dollars and give up vast swaths of civil liberties (think that airport line) because one-tenth that number died in one day of terrorist attacks? Why do two young men from the same neighborhood and family background choose different paths:  one joins a street gang and the other becomes a cop?

I was born into a military family and raised largely in the American South, where I learned to shoot in the Boy Scouts and was on a rifle team in high school. I attended a military prep school, served in the Air National Guard as a small arms specialist and in the Army National Guard as an anti-tank platoon sergeant. I Worked for the Department of Defense (Advanced Research Projects Agency) in Thailand for a while during the lightningVietnam War. I also served three years as a District of Columbia Police Department reserve officer. I graduated from the University of Florida (BA Pol. Sci. 1962)and Georgetown University Law Center (1972, editor, Law Journal).

I practiced law in and out of government, became a journalist and spent six years as an assistant managing editor at the very conservative The Washington Times newspaper in Washington. I then spent two years at a small think tank in Washington studying terrorism and international organized crime.  I went to work in 1993 (following the first WTC bombing attack) as a Democratic counsel on the U.S. House of Representatives Crime Subcommittee staff, where I worked on legislation and hearings involving terrorism and firearms. I am a registered independent.

  1. It’s your photo from the 70’s that tells the whole truth. You became who you were.

  2. I just read your article about the MS-13 gang. I am the victim of that crime and you are only partially correct. The fact is that Victor Calles saved my life from his brother and the other two – the three of them came to our apartment. They threatened to kill me if Victor did not do as they said. I would not be alive today if he did not do what he did. The government, however, wanted to make a sensational story that did not exist and now an innocent man is sentenced to prison for 19 years for a crime that he did not commit, but was in fact a victim along with me. He has never been a part of MS-13 and did everything humanly possible to keep his younger brother out of the gang to no avail. It is a total perversion of justice. Not only was I victimized once by the three named individuals, but again by the government. I will never be the same.

  3. Looking at your info on the Texas Mexican Mafia aka “Mexikanemi”, ALL of the photos you displayed in the three part story of EME tattoos are NOT those belonging to Texas EME. You have instead Arizona, New Mexico, and California “patches” displayed. The Texas EME stands seperate from these states, and uses a shield, with two crossed machetes, with the name MEXIKANEMI across the top. The black hand, is used in California, and the winged skull with double MM’s are used in New mexico and Arizona. All your research and you failed to make that distiction? Texas Mexikanemi is NOT alligned with any other EME group. Im a member, so I should know. Respectfully.

  4. What I do not understand…have never understood, is the genesis of violence. From where does this violent tendency exhibited by SOME humans arise? I truly live by the tenet: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”…why is it so hard for others to live by that. I mean, to me, it makes perfect sense. If one doesn’t “mess” with someone in the first place, they PROBABLY would be left alone. Not always, of course…there are anomolic functions to every system…including familial and extra-familial systems, but mostly. Treat people with some measure of kindness and you will probably get a measure of kindness in return….it seems logical at least. I can honestly say that I have NEVER hit another person in an OFfensive manner…and the ONLY times I have hit DEfensively were in sundry school-yard incidents where I didn’t take my own above advice. I WILL defend myself if attacked, and being 6’3″ and very athletic and lean, I am well equipped to do’s just that it is far easier and just plain better to carry oneself in a way that precludes violence.

    I think our society strangely romantacizes violence…one need only to look to Professional Wrestling; glorified NHL fights; the NFL in it’s entirety; etc for proof. We EXPECT our male children to play with toy-guns and suspect something wrong when they don’t…I for one, HATED guns when I was a kid and NEVER played with them. But moreover, I think there is possibly something deep down in the limbic system of SOME humans (okay, maybe 66%) that prejudices them TOWARDS violence. The animal world is a decidely violent place…these humans share that violent part of the collective genome. I guess I missed out on that violent streak..must have been doing something else when they were handing out the “violent” gene. What I wonder is why aren’t more people like me??? I DON’T mean that in a egoist way, but rather as a honest question.

    I must admit that I grew up in a fairly insular manner….in various affluent suburbs; borne of loving, highly educated parents. We weren’t super-wealthy, by any stretch (the super-rich have their own pecular set of anomolies!), but we WERE well-off, and hence insulated from the daily travesties of street-life. When I was growing up, such netherworld existed only as fiction in novels and movies. Harlem and East L.A. might as well have been on Mars. So I would be foolish to believe that my lucky upbringing had nothing to do with my persona….however, I have since traveled to various inner-city chess tournements and scientific symposiums for gifted inner-city kids, and find MANY MANY kids who are growing up like I did…with an eye towards science and philosophy and art…and yes, PEACE. And THEY don’t have that luxury of insularity that I had growing up. So it is NOT just a matter of finance or culture or education that demarcates the violent from the non-violent…it is something else, and I just can’t put my finger on it.

  5. You do know what you’re doing, so keep at it.
    Thank you!


  6. Mafia everywhere

  7. I just wanted to say that I read your book no boundies and I trully loved it just the way you explained it is just the way it really is me being an exgang member of ms13 can honestly say your book is real good nothing but the truth great job

  8. Great article on NRA use of movies. The ultimate challenge we face is to promote a new civility in this battered country of ours. We’ve let greedy corporations, and the uninformed public they manipulate, turn us into a nation of moral apathy, violence and crude behavior. The GOP has been exploitive of ignorance and greed in so many areas of concern. History will mark them with shame for what they have done to our beloved land. Keep up the good work.

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