by Gila Hayes

In February, the Network enjoyed an unexpected jump above our usual growth. As can happen with exposure to a new market, we saw an interesting trend in the questions from folks who wanted to know about membership. Their questions reveal the worries and concerns of a new demographic.

Predominant in this latest round of queries was concern about whether the Network would assist with legal expenses after a member uses a non-gun option in self defense. The folks asking the question have progressed beyond the immature idea, “I’ve got a gun. What else could I possibly need?” and it was nice to answer questions from serious people who have really thought through their self-defense options.

As our Network members already know, we consider any legal use of force in self defense serious enough that the member needs the benefit of legal advice before questioning by police. Using an intermediate force option doesn’t mean the member will not face very serious legal consequences! An assault conviction, for example, can cascade into revocation of a concealed handgun license, or possibly restrictions on possessing or purchasing firearms.

A possible assault charge after using intermediate defensive force, while serious, is only one element in the decision of how to respond to a threat. Killing, crippling or endangering the life of another human being is a response reserved for immediate and unavoidable danger of death or grave physical injury, as our Advisory Board member Massad Ayoob has taught for decades. But what to do if, reading the cues in the moments before the attack escalates to deadly, you see an aggressor building emotional and physical momentum toward a life-endangering threat while you still have a second or two to interrupt it at a lower force level?

Might a painful or temporarily disabling physical tactic stop a confrontation before it can escalate into so serious a danger that in the end, it can only be stopped by deadly force? As an example, several years ago, a Network member was on a golf course when he was assaulted. He thrust out a golf club that was already in his hands to interrupt the attacker’s forward lunge, and in so doing cut the attacker’s arm.

Because blood was drawn, the police were called, although on its face, the incident seemed fairly minor. Imagine our member’s surprise when the police confiscated his golf club and charged him with assault. The lawyer we paid on behalf of the member got the charges dropped. In that anti-gun city, failing to aggressively counter the assault charge could very well have resulted in loss of that older gentleman’s gun rights for the remaining years of his life.

A society hostile to self sufficiency doesn’t understand that there’s no time to dial 9-1-1 when an aggressor is amping himself up to escalate beyond yelling or shoving, trying to elicit a return insult or other response he can use to justify a brutal attack. The aggressor needs to be stopped before he initiates a full-scale beating. Obviously, escape would be desirable, but what if it’s not possible? Introducing a gun prematurely shifts the blame onto the armed citizen for supposedly escalating a shoving match into deadly force.

Imagine that you’ve used a Taser®, pepper spray, or an improvised weapon and you get out of a dicey situation without being severely injured. When you call 9-1-1 and the police come, the incapacitated, bruised or cut aggressor and his friends swear that you brutally attacked him without any reason. Eventually, both stories are told in court, but since yours were the actions that finally stopped the brewing fight, what you did gets the most attention. The criminal justice system feels compelled to punish people for brawling, and if one guy ends up convicted of a low-level felony, an over-burdened court system moves on, satisfied that the someone was made to pay for disrupting the peace.

This is not the time to throw yourself on the mercy of the law. Too much room for misunderstanding exists! You need an attorney, possibly an investigator, expert witnesses and other defense efforts, and that is why the Network stands behind its members providing the funding to assure those services are available. 

To read more of this month's journal, please click here.