GHayesby Gila Hayes

On the final Monday in October the Network hit our original membership goal of 10,000 active Network members conceptualized by Network President Marty Hayes way back in 2007 when he was pulling together our Network leadership team in preparation to launch our organization. It was a kind of funny goal achievement, because by day’s end, our membership roster count had exceeded 10,000, so that fun “ta-dah” moment passed quickly with no champagne bottles popped open, and after a brief discussion, we all just went back to work. Mondays are like that.

My first contact with Member 10,000 came early on Monday morning. Having been told about the Network by his concealed carry license instructor Frank Le Fevre of Saginaw Firearms, Inc., the gentleman called to ask a few questions about Affiliated Attorneys in his area. We had a nice conversation, and he was cordial and understanding when I explained that the list of actual names and locations of our Affiliated Attorneys is a benefit withheld for the private use of Network members.

Instead, I read him the cities in which Affiliated Attorneys in his upper mid-western state practice, and he happily observed that two practiced law within 50 miles of the suburbs in which he lives. I also explained that Network members are always free to choose any attorney they prefer and the Network will pay that attorney’s fees to represent the member after self defense.

We hung up the phone, both went back to work, and then at noon, right before going to the refrigerator to grab my lunch, I checked for online membership orders and recognized his name. For the past few work days, Marty had been curiously intent upon identifying which new member would push our membership roster up to 10,000, so when I set up the membership account for Member 10,000, I told Marty and we worked out a little bonus to give our newest member just to make it fun.

We didn’t want to slip too deeply into the “Umpteenth Customer” trope. We had not run any “Join now and become our 10,000th member” contests, did not promote a drawing for a free gun as an incentive to join, or dangle any other artificial enticements in front of prospects to join the Network.

If the value of Network services and benefits does not speak for itself and we have to resort to gimmicky salesmanship, we would have, in my opinion, no business providing something so serious as after-incident assistance for the self-defense community. Instead, we talk, often at length, with armed citizens who call to ask what the Network offers and during those exchanges of information, we help the callers understand why having the Network backing them up after use of force in self defense is so very important.

I found it unsurprising that the new Network member to briefly hold the spotlight as our 10,000th active member matches our most common member demographic to a “T.” Member 10,000 started gun ownership in the way that many of us do–as a young person taking a hunting rifle out to the woods and fields and bringing home some of Nature’s bounty to put on the dinner table. He told me that only in recent years had crime in his community grown so rampant that he grew concerned that the property crimes he and his neighbors and family have suffered might turn into a home invasion or a strong arm robbery attempt when he is working at his sign shop.

This sixty-something small business owner has started carrying his handgun when he is at work in his shop. For the first time in his life, he commented, he realized that he must be vigilant and ready to defend against violence. He explained that acknowledging the need to protect himself made him think long and hard about the difference between preventing property crimes like theft compared to using a gun for the defense of his life or of other innocent life. He is looking forward to receiving the Network member education package for more in depth instruction on this important issue.

Hardworking, soft-spoken citizens like Member 10,000 are the backbone of America. I’m not much given to sentimentality, yet I find much to be thankful for in reaching our 10,000th member goal. What a privilege it is to play a small part in providing peace of mind to each of our 10,000+ members who know that if they have to defend self or family, the Network will be there standing beside them in the aftermath, helping to defend their lawful use of force in self defense.

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