by Marty Hayes, J.D.
I am writing this month’s message while also hosting Massad Ayoob, who is here at my other business, The Firearms Academy of Seattle. If it were not for me getting hooked up with Mas in 1990, there would be no Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. You see, it was his influence on me back when I was a fledgling firearms instructor working for a gun range in North Seattle and teaching armed citizens how to use firearms, which led me down the path of becoming an expert witness, and my expert witness experience led me to get my Juris Doctor degree. And, it is the credibility of that professional degree, combined with my teaching history, my expert witness work and my association with Massad Ayoob and the other giants in the industry (John Farnam, Tom Givens, Dennis Tueller, as well as the late Jim Cirillo) that gave the Network the credibility needed for it to grow and succeed, especially in the early days.
In the last 28 years, my school has hosted Massad each and every year, sometimes twice a year. We have also shot on the same team at major shooting matches, winning trophies, guns and other prizes. Additionally, Mas and I have co-taught Continuing Legal Education courses (along with Network Advisory Board Member James Fleming) and we have also co-taught law enforcement training seminars and range sessions for the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor Association. Currently, through the Massad Ayoob Group (MAG), we are offering Use of Deadly Force Instructor courses and have two of these courses scheduled, both in the South. (For details, please see http://massadayoobgroup.com/deadly-force-instructor-class/) December 4-8, 2017, we are teaching in North Florida in Mas’s hometown of Live Oak. Then, in January, we are scheduled to be in Austin, TX, where Network Affiliated Instructor Karl Rehn of KR Training is hosting the MAG Use of Deadly Force Instructor Course.
In photo to the right, student Marco Aguilar discusses the Costa Rican criminal justice system at the WI Use of Deadly Force Instructor course in 2016. Students give a five-minute presentation on some aspect of use of deadly force law or other topic.
If you are a firearms instructor teaching the use of the gun for self defense, I highly recommend attending one of these courses. As far as I know, only two entities certify people to teach the use of deadly force in self defense. One is Andrew Branca, who has an on-line certification course. If you’ve attended his Law Of Self Defense seminar, you know that he has the background and knowledge to conduct these certification courses. The other is the Massad Ayoob Group.
In the MAG course, there is another component beyond certification to teach the doctrine. That component is to prepare the student/instructor to also act as an expert witness for lawfully armed citizens who use firearms in self defense then are unmeritoriously prosecuted. When an armed citizen uses force in self defense and is prosecuted, it is extremely likely that the defense would benefit from testimony by one or more expert witnesses in the case. That can be a problem.
First, there are relatively few qualified experts available to serve in that capacity. In many areas in the United States, there are simply no legitimate experts of either gender available to you, although female firearms instructors serving as expert witnesses are even more rare and valuable. That means your attorney needs to go outside the local area for an expert, and that really starts costing money.
This leads us to the second problem: the money. Most experts charge between $100 and $500 per hour, and a typical case entails at least 10 hours of document review and report writing, another 10-20 hours if ballistic tests must be conducted, and another 10-20 hours in preparing for and testifying in court. If the expert has to travel, add in at least two days of travel expenses. Could you serve as an expert in court? This course will prepare you to answer that question, and might allow you to enter this profession. One of our students in Wisconsin last October went on to get involved in a self-defense case, and helped the armed citizen win an acquittal.
Two occurrences make the firearms instructor extremely proud of his or her work. One is when he or she gets the phone call from the student saying that what you taught him saved his life. The other is when you hear the words “Not Guilty” after working as a professional expert witness for a lawfully armed citizen, who was being railroaded by the local county prosecutor. I have received those phone calls and heard those words several times, and it is always gratifying. To learn more about expert witness work, see the interview at https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/the-role-of-the-expert-witness.
The third type of person who would benefit from attending the Use of Deadly Force Instructor course is the armed citizen, who has neither the desire nor inclination to be a firearms instructor or expert witness, but wants the highest degree of training. In a self-defense case, you are likely to need to take the stand and testify to the reason you perceived your life was in danger, and why you felt it necessary to use deadly force in self defense. What better way to give your words credibility than to claim expert status in the discipline of use of deadly force in self defense? It is a trial tactic that would have to be explored thoroughly with your defense team, but I feel better having that tool.
Here at the Network, we feel so strongly that this is valuable training for the armed citizen, that we have convinced Mas to give Network members a $100 discount off the tuition for this course. Alternatively, Mas will give his previous LFI-1 or MAG-40 graduates a $200 discount (you can only take one discount, by the way). If interested, please follow the links and sign up. We only teach this class once or twice a year, so the opportunity does not come by often.
The Polite Society Podcast
Many Network members joined the Network on the recommendation of our friend Paul Lathrop. Recently, his co-host Rachel Malone took a job as operations director for the Republican Party of Texas so Paul reached out to Belle McCormack to fill that void in the show. Belle is an instructor for The Firearms Academy of Seattle and is just getting started as a part time team member at the Network. In her debut podcast, she tells the story of her life, how she came to be a student of the gun, and now an instructor. That podcast can be heard at http://politicsandguns.libsyn.com/episode-414-belle-mccormack. I commend Belle’s willingness to tell her story, in the hope that her story will empower other women to take control of their lives.
Just a Little on NRA Carry Guard
In the last two issues of the Network eJournal, I wrote and publicized an Open Letter to Wayne LaPierre, and an Open Letter to the NRA Board of Directors. To date, I have received three responses from NRA Board Directors, and none from Wayne LaPierre or his staff. I figured you needed a break from my discussion of the issue, so nothing more from me on this topic in this edition. Perhaps next month I will have an update.
Finally, I want to say thank you so much for your feedback directly to me. Even those few who took exception to what I had to say need to know that your response is very welcome, if nothing else to make me explore my thoughts and to make sure I am saying what I mean. Thank you.
To read more of this month's journal, please click here.