2011 IN REVIEW
by Gila Hayes
With each passing year, the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc. moves beyond being a start-up focused on establishing a greatly needed resource for armed citizens and comes closer to fulfilling the goals of its founders, as with each new member and each membership renewal the Network’s Legal Defense Fund grows ever larger. Concurrently, this member-focused organization grows stronger and better prepared to bring the strength of thousands of armed citizens to bear in defense of Network members being ground through the American criminal justice system after defending self or family. Each January, we give a review or state of the Network report, so members are no doubt waiting to read how their Network fared in 2011. The short answer: very well indeed!
Do you remember how thrilled we were in January of 2010 to report that the Legal Defense Fund had amassed $30,000? The following year, the Network itself made a substantial contribution to the Legal Defense Fund to wrap up 2010 with $100,000 in the Fund. That was a huge milestone for us. As this year slips away, the Legal Defense Fund contains $158,300. Has this financial resource fulfilled its intended purpose? Absolutely!
Two members of the Network who in 2011 acted in self defense, faced challenges from the criminal justice system, so their attorneys received Legal Defense Fund monies to represent them. While the membership benefit of a deposit against attorney fees is never contingent on using a Network Affiliated Attorney, in these instances neither member had suitable representation, so the first steps Network President Marty Hayes undertook when he received word that the member needed assistance was getting one of our affiliated attorneys in touch with the member, and the attorney took it from there.
In deference to our members’ privacy, we must decline to give details. In brief, the first case saw protracted legal maneuvering right up to the day of trial, but at zero hour, a settlement was reached. The member expressed satisfaction with the outcome and complimented the services of the Network Affiliated Attorney who provided his representation. The other case is new. A Network Affiliated Attorney is working the case aggressively, and knowing this advocate’s reputation, I have no doubt that our member is receiving a vigorous defense.
STEADY, SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
Network membership grew from 1,500 to 2,800 from January 1 to December 31 of 2010. Now we end 2011 with 4,600 Network members. A word about sustainable growth: sometimes I speak with folks who earn their living making sales and marketing products. They say, “Your Network could be huge, if you’d only ...” and I’m sure they are sometimes right. The question is whether developing the Network to its highest potential means having the most members or providing the best service. To us, it has always been the latter.
Still, because Network membership dues are the primary source of funding for the Legal Defense Fund, we are growing the Network as fast as the infrastructure will support. It is a delicate balancing act, as it has been the Network’s philosophy from day one to grow only so fast as the financial resources are available to provide services to our members. The Network does not incur debt or undertake business expansion for which it cannot pay out of existing operating capital. Instead of expensive advertisements or membership drives, the Network’s outreach tools are its web site, the tremendous network distributing our educational booklets to gun owners, word of mouth from satisfied members.
Membership also grows when the Network is featured in firearms publications like Rich Grassi’s Tactical Wire or the recent article by Massad Ayoob in Combat Handguns.