by Marty Hayes, J.D.
I hope this message finds everyone surviving the unusually high heat this summer. We in the Pacific Northwest have just recently survived the first set of high temps, and everything seems to be okay.
We have some news regarding the fight with the WA Office of Insurance Commissioner (WA OIC) I wanted to inform you about.
We have recently moved into the “discovery stage” of the lawsuit, where we can ask for otherwise private information. We have received 4,000+ pages of documents from the state (they sure want us bad). I will not share most of the particulars, but I will share the following. In the discovery package was 500+ pages of correspondence between our members and the insurance commission staff.
Our members, for the most part, commented on the “persecution” of ACLDN. I was very thankful that, to a person, everyone who wrote to the Insurance Commissioner understands that we are not selling insurance, as these letters reflect. I didn’t count the letters, but I think there were over 100. I’d like to share a few of those letters (names withheld, of course) with you. I wanted for you to see how well your fellow ACLDN members who cared to write Commissioner Kreidler conducted themselves, and how much of a grasp on the situation they had.
We expect to receive a second batch of information soon, along with taking the depositions of several of the key players at the OIC. I will share more when I can.
“I am a licensed attorney in Seattle WA, a resident of Seattle, and a member of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. I see your cease and desist order as a bureaucratic and inappropriate attack on the 2nd Amendment. Please withdraw it promptly. Focus on big insurance companies. Not citizens that band together to stay educated, and protect ourselves from frivolous litigation. If you fail to withdraw it, I intend to fund the political campaign of your replacement.”
“Why would you classify Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network as insurance when it explicitly is not? A member-funded network which provides legal assistance to those levied with firearm related charges? And why would you call this type of assistance as ‘murder insurance’ when our legal system dictates that a person is ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ Your assumption, aside from not being correct, is not legal and prejudicial. Please reconsider your policy and the effect it will have on law abiding citizens and constituents.”
“I’m writing you to request that you cease your legal attacks against the ACLDN. They are not an insurance company, nor do they provide insurance. They do not reimburse anyone for damages, nor do they sanction or condone any illegal use of force, and they very explicitly state in their membership agreement that no resources may be used for the defense of same. What they do offer is financial and legal assistance if one is forced to defend oneself in the courts after a justified use of force occurs. It is unfortunate that defending oneself may require funding that might bankrupt the average individual, especially those who are underprivileged, after one has already been put through the trauma of a life-threatening situation.
“Opposing a completely voluntary pooling of resources is yet another attack on citizens’ rights. I am well aware that this state has grown very cold to the idea that citizens have the right to protect themselves, and there is even a move to require insurance to exercise one’s basic rights (actual insurance, that would pay damages for wrongdoing or negligence–which again, the ACLDN does *not* do), and yet, when responsible citizens do the responsible thing and try to protect their own futures, the state tries to stand in the way of that.”
“Why do you continue to harass law-abiding citizens?
“1. The Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network does not sell insurance and you have no jurisdiction.
“2. If I want information about how to best preserve my legal right to protect those whom I love without being falsely prosecuted by a bunch of power-hungry bureaucrats who don’t value the lives of their law-abiding voters, what’s your problem with that? You’re arrogant and I will not only vote against you, but I will tell others the truth about you and encourage them to vote against you as well.”
“Re: Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network I’ve been a member since the early days (#57) and have always thought of this organization as first an educational source. We receive many materials that are worth the membership price alone. Although I understood that monies could be made available in the event of a justified self-defense use of force, that these funds are paid directly to the attorney and perhaps bail and not to me personally. I never thought of it as insurance since I had no guarantee that anything would be paid. I’m not a lawyer so don’t understand the distinction of ‘insurance’ but can only comment that this fine organization goes a long way to educate its members and the public about the proper and safe use of firearms.”
“RCW 48.01.040 defines insurance as a contract wherein one undertakes to indemnify another or to pay a specified amount upon determinable contingencies. As far as I know, the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network has no defined schedule of benefits, which is a primary characteristic of any insurance policy I’m familiar with. Our vehicles are insured to certain limits as to their value or to certain limits of liability - i.e. ‘a specified amount.’ Our homes, properties, and businesses are similarly insured, based on pre-determined limits - i.e. ‘a specified amount.’ Under the provisions of the agreement members of the ACLDN operate under, there is the distinct possibility that no funds will be used from the fraternal monetary pool to assist in the legal defense of a given alleged act of self defense. Hardly the terms and conditions that define ‘insurance.’”
“It seems to me that the actions taken against ACLDN and the recent ‘cease and desist’ order are an extension of the decidedly hostile attitude of the present State administration toward those of us who choose to legally take the responsibility of the defense of ourselves and our loved ones into our own hands. Unfortunately, our hard-working police can’t be constantly at our side to protect us from criminals, so when seconds count, they are minutes away, often long minutes. Our government exists to serve and protect its citizens. Doing your job well is to protect us from fraudulent insurance practices. Your job is not to deny us seeking help with the legal costs that often follow a righteous act of self defense.”
“I am a retired detective after serving 30 years in the King County Sheriff’s Office. I also spent 14 years as the Vice President of the King County Police Officer’s Guild. In that capacity, I assisted in negotiating large contracts, lawsuits, discipline cases and represented officers in shooting investigations. I understand that you are investigating ACLDN, Inc. in regards to practicing Insurance without a license. I am not sure where this complaint came from or out of, but I suspect that down the road that will come out. I have been a strong supporter of the Washington State Insurance Commission and your mission. On this particular investigation though, I really think you are incorrect for several reasons.
“First, although members pay yearly dues, representation after an incident is not an absolute given. A ‘Scope Call’ most certainly is reviewed by ACLDN Inc. management prior to coverage being given. The scope would be if the use of force was reasonable or could be considered lawful. If, under your theory, they are practicing insurance, the ACLDN, Inc would then be forced to represent, say, a bank robber who joined ACLDN and was involved in a shooting or a man who shoots his wife in a fit of rage. Because this is not Insurance, they are not required to cover or represent these situations.
“Also, dues paid by members also cover training articles, supplies in the form of training videos, and interviews with various people in the field of defense both physical and legal. Often, this training can help prevent the use of force situations before they are used. This could potentially save lives as well as thousands of dollars in costs for the state. I am a member of ACLDN, Inc. and joined upon my retirement from the Sheriff’s Office. Although I have never had to use the benefit, I most certainly have learned a lot from their monthly newsletters as well as their training videos and interviews.
“Another thing for you to consider is that this organization is very transparent and keeps members informed of the status and amounts of the organization’s financial status. I would request that you re-evaluate your position on this matter and find that they are not practicing insurance.”
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