GHayesby Gila Hayes

“We can’t apply the KISS principle in this class
because it is not simple and you are not stupid.”
–Massad Ayoob, teaching Judicious Use of Deadly Force

“I have some questions that I need you to answer with just yes or no,” insisted the member on the other end of the phone line. “Oh, no,” I thought, “Is it possible to break down something so complex as Network aftermath assistance to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses?” As it turns out, it is not possible to accurately explain the various ways in which the Network assists members with one-word responses.

Fortunately, the member let me add short explanations as needed, so he got the facts he called to learn. With so many copy-cat outfits now selling insurance and other post incident support plans to armed citizens, selecting your best choice for post-self defense incident support has become very complex. I understood our member’s wish for simplification, and in turn I hope he understood that I could not tell him how Network membership benefits worked with one-word answers.

His call made me think of how Network membership benefits have grown. Since opening the Network in 2008, we’ve focused on regularly increasing the amount of funding from which we draw support for Network members after self defense. At the same time, we’ve expanded the types of support we offer members after self defense. As the Legal Defense Fund grew in our early days, we expanded our benefit of paying attorney fees after self defense to incidents in which the member used any legal form of self defense, not just firearms.

Beyond the paramount effort of member education, we’ve worked hard to build up funds to pay attorneys to represent a member after self defense–first during the immediate aftermath, and later, paying a trial team to provide a full-blown defense in court if it goes that far. The Legal Defense Fund has grown until today $575,000 is set aside, with half of that available for any single member’s legal defense needs after use of force in self defense.

As I see it, there are two distinct stages in which we pay attorney fees on behalf of a Network member who has used force in self defense. The first arises in the immediate aftermath of the incident when we pay an attorney to provide representation during questioning, fend off the media and take care of other immediate legal needs. If, despite legally using force, the member is charged with a crime or faces civil lawsuit, the Network, after being shown that the use of force was justifiable self defense accomplished by legal means, pays to be sure our member has a vigorous defense against either criminal charges or civil litigation.

This growth in member benefits has been accomplished by single-mindedly pursuing a goal of being fully capable of paying attorneys and a legal team to put on a vigorous defense on behalf of a Network member. In pursuing that goal, we have not been distracted by chasing down rabbit trails like suing to force authorities to grant concealed carry licenses, NICS denials, or other aspects of gun ownership that are not related to a specific self-defense incident occurring during membership.

Another example of a “rabbit trail” was reflected in an email I recently answered: the Network doesn’t lure in new members by offering peripheral inducements like promising compensation for days lost from work while in court defending self-defense actions or paying for a biohazard team to clean up the crime scene. Instead, we reserve the Legal Defense Fund to pay Network members’ big-dollar legal needs–paying attorney fees and other expenses of early legal representation ASAP after the self-defense incident and then if needed, providing funding to put on a vigorous defense in court.

The other distraction and high budget impact item in which we have refused to entangle the Network is defense of non-members facing the criminal charges after use of force in which they claim self defense, which Network President Marty Hayes mentioned in passing in his President’s Message this month. His comments were right on! Let me add my promise to you, members, that we will not be distracted from our most important tasks – making sure you have the education about use of force in self defense and its aftermath to make good decisions and making sure the Legal Defense Fund is strong and ready to pay a lawyer to represent you if you ever have to use force to defend yourself.

Click here to return to August 2015 Journal to read more.