by Gila Hayes

Several calls and emails these past few weeks made me ponder the overall personality of our Network members. Oh, we’re diverse–men and women, armed citizens of all races, young couples taking their first concealed handgun licensing course and senior citizens enjoying every minute of retirement. Beyond the self-reliant attitude common to folks who realize that they are responsible for the immediate safety of themselves and their families, I am often reminded of the “We’re-All-In-This-Together” cooperative attitude so apparent in Network members.

Sometimes that realization comes to me backwards–when an interested shopper asks us to promise support that may benefit him or her specifically but harm the larger membership. We must exclude people who apparently want it all for themselves, and get upset by the policy we’ve stated from the very beginning that at no time will we commit more than one-half of the Legal Defense Fund to fight prosecution or civil law suit against a member after a single self-defense incident.

Apparently, the most recent example of this believed there were no underlying expenses to building a 13,000+ member organization with over $1 million in its Legal Defense Fund. He asserted that money should be put in the Fund, instead of advertising and outreach to bring in more members, paying skilled team members to answer phone-in questions from members and potential members, and keep the organization growing to support existing members. Since I keep the budgets balanced and make sure the Network never goes into debt, I took it personally. I felt his demand was a lot like telling you to drive from Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego, without allowing you to spend money on gasoline!

The growth and development of the Network has always focused on how to provide the best post-incident support for the member, while maintaining the strength of the organization for the aid of the next member who has to use force in self defense. In paying attorney fees for 14 members since we opened in 2008, we have not yet had to limit payment of legal fees—the members’ attorneys received the funding that was requested.

I would not want to be so desperately “penny wise, pound foolish” that I pushed the Network into making concessions to one individual and risked or diminished this organization’s ability to provide our ever-growing level of assistance to the other 13,000 members. To those who can’t see the big picture or care for the rest of their fellow members, too, I can only say, “We’re too far apart on our view of what is good and right. Let’s part now before you take us for a half-a-million dollar ride.”

To the vast majority of our good Network members, I say thank you for keeping the greater good always in mind. We truly are all in this together. 

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