Including...    • First Attorney Fees Paid for Network Member's DefenseAttorney Article: Language, Layers & LiabilityConsiderations When Teaching Children to ShootNetwork Affiliated Attorneys Answer Question About Recording Scene of Self Defense

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Legal Help Extended to Network Member

Recently we received our first request for assistance to provide an attorney for a Network member after a reported self-defense incident. The details must remain confidential, but we felt it important to assure our membership that the system is working and fully functional. The member has representation by a Network Affiliated Attorney who has received a fee retainer from the legal defense fund. From our conversations with the Network Affiliated Attorney, we are convinced that our member is being well represented.

When it is all over, we hope to be able to report more about the incident and the outcome. Still, if you don’t hear details, please understand that court proceedings can sometimes take years and we will exercise extreme caution to avoid publishing any information that could damage our member’s legal position.

At the same time, this ongoing effort opens up discussion about the Network’s role in a member’s legal defense. A lot of odd and sometime amusing mistakes have been made when people try to understand the Network through the lens of other organizations or services with which they are familiar. One of the challenges for the Network, as an organization providing services that are heavily influenced by the particular situation an individual member faces, has been clearly communicating what Network membership provides and what it does not.

A few nights ago at 11:33 p.m. a non-member called the Network’s daytime business phone and left the following message: “Hey, I was really impressed with your documents, but how the hell are you supposed to help anybody when you don’t have anybody to answer the phone? I mean, uh, these incidents don’t always happen between, you know, uh, 7:00 and 4:30, so you might want to get some dark glasses so when you pull your head out, the light won’t hurt your eyes. But you’ve got some good ideas here, and I was kind of impressed, but now I’m kind of going, what kind of flaky bastards are you?” 

We understand someone not fully comprehending what the Network does and have responded to many requests for additional information, as we would have in this case, had the message requested clarification instead of the off-color dressing down he recorded. We chose not to call back, as we don’t want exposure to the kind of ongoing battles entailed in bringing into the Network a person with limited impulse control. Is this recording demonstrative of the way he conducts himself in public? By contrast, Network members are careful in their actions and speech, since they well understand that being a responsible armed citizen entails exercising caution not to escalate a situation into a fight that might end in gunfire, possibly without justification.

We are NOT a Legal SWAT Team!

We can only surmise that our midnight caller was testing to see if the Network answers the phones 24/7, and if it is ready to render assistance like a legal SWAT team. Of course, if he had been a member, the caller would know that the Network’s Boots on the Ground phone is a 24/7 emergency number that rings to a phone that stays with the Network president all the time, and is either directly answered or through which he makes a return call immediately upon receiving an emergency message from a member or their family.

Still, members must understand that even after receiving a phone call requesting assistance, the Network is not able to swoop in like Batman and save the day. If a member calls the Boots on the Ground phone number (only available to members) it means that member has not yet acquired the phone number of an attorney in their area to call in a legal emergency. If that is the case, we first check for a Network Affiliated Attorney in the area and call him or her on behalf of the member, asking if he or she can assist. While the Boots on the Ground phone is active at 3 a.m., it is unlikely that we would be able to contact the attorney on your behalf until normal business hours. Unless you have met with and made after-hours arrangements with your own attorney–be that a Network affiliated attorney or another lawyer whom you know and trust–be prepared to wait until business hours 

List of Affiliated Attorneys Growing

While we are happy to see the Network Affiliated Attorney list growing, there remain seven states in which we don’t yet have an affiliate and many very large states in which we do have Network Affiliated Attorneys, but the attorney would have a lengthy drive to reach you. Thus, affiliating with more attorneys remains the Network’s number one effort.

Meanwhile, if there is no affiliated attorney in your area, we will implement our Boots on the Ground program, under which a Network Representative flies or drives to the member’s location and starts working to find a good attorney to represent them. You should expect to wait 24 hours or so if this is the case. We know it is not a perfect arrangement! That is why we so strongly urge you to find a local attorney and make arrangements to be able to call him or her in the case of an emergency. Our goal is to have a Network Affiliated Attorney in every bar association of every county of every state, and each time we add a new affiliate, we are re-energized in working toward this goal. Please help us achieve that goal by recruiting and recommending attorneys who you know and trust in your local area.

Bear in mind that while it is important that your chosen attorney be a gun owner like yourself and the other Network members, you don’t need a high-profile criminal defense attorney like the late Johnnie Cochran for the first few days following a self-defense incident. You need an attorney who understands the unique concerns that attach to using guns in self defense, who is not hostile to or mistrustful of armed citizens, and who is familiar with their local criminal justice system so they can assist you and your family through police investigations and initial court proceedings if charges are brought.

If these early efforts to establish the member’s innocence are thwarted, the Network and its legal defense fund will work with the Network member to obtain a skilled trial team, comprised of accomplished trial attorneys, expert witnesses and related services. (To understand these and other benefits, see That concern comes further down the time line, however, and if the initial aftermath is handled correctly, should rarely if ever come into play 

No Man is an Island

Despite what English poet John Donne wrote about the interconnectedness of all mankind, gun owners often feel isolated from their unarmed associates, afraid of being ostracized if they give voice to their concerns about the aftermath of using a gun in self defense. It remains critical that armed citizens find and establish trusting relationships with a few capable people. Network Advisory Board Member Massad Ayoob has long lectured on this necessity, dubbing such folks “trusted others,” and teaching that if you use a gun in self defense, you may be held essentially incommunicado while the criminal justice system puts you through the steps it uses to determine if you committed a crime. Here, the trusted other becomes your voice, communicating your situation to those who can come to your aid.

Even if you are not being held while an investigation is underway, calling anyone but your attorney is a risky idea. Let’s imagine that a Network member brandished a gun and stopped an armed robbery or backed off a road-rage participant. They correctly call 9-1-1, and then dial the Network. Now the trouble begins. Anything – ANYTHING – the member says in explanation about why they need Network assistance is subject to subpoena and use in arguing a case against them because no attorney-client privilege exists between the Network and its member. The Network is not the member’s attorney, nor has the Network ever made any such offer.

Does the member need legal assistance? Of course! How can the member get help? In several ways! • Have in your wallet the number of an attorney who you can call and ask for representation after an act of self defense, being sure to instruct them to call the Network and explain your situation.

• Have a discussion outlining your understanding of the aftermath of using a gun in self defense with a family member or close friend who is easy to contact at all hours of the day or night.

Sit down and watch some of the Network’s educational DVDs with your “trusted other” candidate. If they understand the issues discussed, and you believe they possess the good common sense to help during an emergency, ask if they would be willing to come to your aid if you needed it–and offer them the same kind of assistance. Script out a very limited set of facts you can safely communicate during such a call, realizing again that there is no privilege keeping your call to this person out of a court case against you. If struggling with these issues, you may want to consider getting some training like that offered by Massad Ayoob, at least up to the extent of his 20-hour class, Armed Citizens’ Rules of Engagement.

In the ongoing case mentioned at the beginning of this article, a family member notified the Network and we immediately went to work on behalf of our member. The Network has literally been unable to speak with the member, but working through our Network Affiliated Attorney, we are confident and assured that the member’s legal needs are being thoroughly and well addressed. The family member confirms that this is the case. If there was any doubt, we would have implemented the Boots on the Ground provisions and gone to check on the situation in person.

Join the Team if You Want to Play

And what about non-members who use a gun in self defense? The Network isn’t a charity. Our services are limited to assisting dues-paying Network members. While we are working to educate armed citizens all across the nation so they understand these issues and have committed thousands of dollars to making our 24-page booklet What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law freely available through gun shops and firearms instructors, that educational outreach is the extent of Network services to non-members. Non-members calling the Network for attorneys and asking for money after a shooting are acting like a motorist who calls AAA for a tank of gas or other roadside assistance without first bothering to join the AAA.

We compliment Network members on their level of preparation, not only in joining the Network, but also because most are educated shooters who have made sensible preparations far beyond reading the Internet or going to a class to get their license to carry concealed. Many are avid students of self defense, reading and attending many classes; others expand their preparations to be sure they can make it through many types of emergencies, including natural disasters, societal collapse or criminal attack; many members have in place several layers of preparation against various emergencies, up to and including needing to use a gun in self defense. These armed citizens have earned our respect and admiration and we count it a privilege to be a part of their survival plan.

Language, Layers and Liability

by J. Patrick Buckley Attorney at Law

The “Three L’s” can assist us in preparing for a self-defense engagement. 

Language has two parts. The first, being what to say after a self-defense shooting. Like any dry-fire practice reinforcing muscle memory, practicing what to say to law enforcement is vital to avoid criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit. The surviving victim will be experiencing an adrenalin dump and having practiced exactly what to say to law enforcement will provide confidence, command over the situation, and calmness. A second prong of language is using proper terminology. The second L is Layers. Firefighters use many layers of protection and have many tools to choose from that they use to keep people safe. If one layer fails or doesn’t do the job they simply move to another layer. Self-defense tools should be considered in the same light. The last L is Liability. A firearms professional will have thought through what would happen following a self-defense shooting. The surviving victim is likely to be arrested, will ultimately need to deal with law enforcement and should have a self-defense attorney ready to begin mounting a defense to any criminal or civil matters that arise from the self-defense shooting. Remember, not only can the state prosecute you for homicide, but the dead attacker’s estate can sue you for wrongful death.


Language. There is considerable controversy over what should be said to law enforcement following a selfdefense shooting. One school of thought, often coming from the criminal defense bar, demands that the surviving victim say absolutely nothing until their attorney is present. I certainly appreciate this, and it most certainly has its advantages. Saying nothing and being prepared to say nothing eliminates the chance that you will say the wrong thing, which will be used against you in court. It is natural following a self-defense shooting to not only want to cooperate with law enforcement, but to try to convince them that you were in the right, and you did the right thing given the circumstances. You may want to try to convince them that the use of deadly force was absolutely necessary given your condition. This desire to make one’s point must be kept in check. The scene of the self-defense shooting is neither the time nor the place to begin justifying why and how you had to use deadly force to defend yourself. Furthermore, there is nothing you can say following a selfdefense shooting that will keep you from going to jail if the police believe you should go to jail. Since law enforcement does not serve as the prosecutor or judge, it would not be unexpected for the surviving victim to end up in cuffs, have their firearm confiscated, and to sit in the back seat of a patrol car while the crime scene is taped off. Further, until the police get a proper crime scene investigation team to that site, and the prosecutor’s office has an opportunity to review the condition, it would not be unusual for the surviving victim to also be detained. The surviving victim must be prepared to make bail as necessary. 

Opposite the “say nothing school” is the more sophisticated “say little school.” This requires additional training. It is my opinion that if somebody has the ability to limit what they say to law enforcement without experiencing diarrhea of the mouth and can tell law enforcement:

1) Where they were coming from (for instance their office); 2) Where they were going to (for instance their car); 3) Where the bad guy came from (for instance behind a van); 4) What the bad guy was holding (such as a firearm or a knife); 5) Where that weapon is now, and if it was a firearm if it has been shot; 6) How many bad guys there were; and, 7) If there is any additional evidence, where that evidence may be.

The surviving victim should be able to point to where the items are so the police can properly collect the evidence and take appropriate photographs. While the say nothing school of thought certainly has its advantages, many crime scenes have deteriorated when law enforcement rolled up and accidentally spoiled the evidence. If witnesses were around for the incident, the surviving victim should point those witnesses out immediately so that the witnesses can be stopped by law enforcement, identified and questioned for the record. It will not take very long for that witness’s curiosity to be overwhelmed by the desire not to get involved. Once the surviving victim has either informed law enforcement that they have nothing to say without the presence of their attorney or, in the alternative, given limited information and then informed law enforcement that they have nothing additional to say until they speak to their attorney, it is then the obligation of the surviving victim to say nothing additional and to wait to speak to his attorney. The next time he engages in conversation should be with his lawyer, and he may be in jail and very uncomfortable so he should be ready. 

It is important that someone preparing for this unfortunate scenario has an understanding of the Miranda rights. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” The Fifth Amendment to our U.S. Constitution reads, “No person...shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Now if you feel strongly about your Second Amendment rights, consider your Fifth Amendment rights. Remember what the United States Supreme Court said? Everything you say can be used against you, not a word about what can be used to benefit you. When in doubt, shut up.

The second part of language is terminology. More specifically learning, owning, and using proper terminology. This will not only benefit when talking to other firearms professionals, but will assist you when speaking to law enforcement and your attorney in the days following your self-defense engagement. Proper terminology is neither complicated nor confusing, but avoiding silly pop-culture terms is vital. You should know the difference between a pistol (auto-loader) and a revolver (wheel gun). You should understand the different types of guns you carry with some degree of specificity as certain guns do have very specific characteristics. There is an enormous difference between a shotgun and a rifle, between night sights and a laser sight, between hollow point and full metal jacket. Since you are, or soon will be a firearms professional, you will or will soon start reading up on literature concerning firearms and other defensive tools and tactics. In addition, you will seek additional training. Your instructors will use these terms with regularity because they are also firearms professionals. You’ll have a command of these terms and soon find yourself never in a situation where you would confuse the word “magazine” with the word “clip.” The terms are not synonymous. 

This will also assist you in aiding in your own defense in the future should you need to put together a legal team as your experts and lawyer will undoubtedly be using the appropriate terminology and you will not only want to keep up with this conversation, but assist in your own defense.


Layers. If you were to speak to a firefighter, he could spend hours explaining the layers of fire prevention. Some of the layers firefighters use in fire prevention are built into local building codes such as the materials that may be used to construct walls, the location of fire suppression equipment (such as fire sprinklers and more advanced devices), smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and exit doors needed for an evacuation. Imagine if there were a requirement that self-defense tools were required in a structure in an event a bad guy attacks. We use layers of protection so that if one item either fails or is not applicable to a given condition the next item can be relied upon. When these multiple layers are used in conjunction with each other, lives are saved. Self-defense tools should be considered in a similar light.

The moment that a firearm is displayed or controlled and capable of being discharged deadly force can be imminent. We all recognize that a firearm is a tool to be used in a defensive posture assuming it is not used in a military application. A firearm should be considered just one of many defensive tools available to its handler. A nonlethal or less-than-lethal layer should also be considered. It is not difficult to itemize the number of practical self-defense tools that can be available in your personal self-defense tool box. These might include: a firearm, an edged weapon, OC spray, a baton, a kubotan, your cell phone, and a taser. I also strongly recommend a flashlight, which can not only be used as an effective impact weapon, but also serves another purpose of shedding light on a situation to help defuse a possible encounter with a bad guy, and showing the bad guy that you are aware of your surroundings and perhaps persuading him to go find an easier, softer target to attack. Remember, most bad guys hate light.

If the bad guy is very close, perhaps a firearm is not an appropriate self-defense tool and either an edged weapon or a baton is more appropriate. If you are in an elevator at the time of the attack or there are very heavy winds working against you, OC spray may not be the tool of choice. If you are in a courthouse or on an airplane, perhaps the only thing you are allowed to have with you is either a flashlight or a pen and pencil set. Every contractor knows that multiple tools are required on the job because every repair does not require the same tool. Therefore, it is best to carry multiple tools in your self-defense tool box.


Liability. The final element is liability. In the event of a self-defense shooting, the surviving victim should be prepared and ready to contact 911. They should be aware that their phone call is being recorded and when 911 asks for their description of the emergency they must be ready to speak in a clear voice to inform the 911 dispatcher that they have been involved in a self-defense shooting, that both police and an ambulance are needed, where they are, and what they are wearing. Inform 911 that they are currently holding a firearm and that the bad guy is laying down on the pavement and the description of what the bad guy is wearing. When the police roll up to a scene, there are generally two roles that must be filled, the role of the good guy and the role of the bad guy. In your situation, we want the victim to survive which likely means they still have a firearm aimed at the bad guy.

By this point you have decided whether or not you will simply say nothing or you had practiced sufficiently that you are ready to provide law enforcement with some limited information to assist them in their investigation on your behalf. You will speak their language and inform an officer that you want to sign a complaint against the bad guy. After you have called 911 and informed them of what happened and what is needed, you must hang up and call your selfdefense attorney. Your self-defense attorney should have an ICE number, which stands for In Case of Emergency, and he is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After calling 911 and before calling your lawyer’s ICE number, some cell phones require the phone to be reset. You need to know how to use your cell phone and how to reset that number so you can make a non-911 phone call; check your owner’s manual. Explain to your attorney what is happening and listen to your lawyer’s advice. Once you get off the phone with your attorney, law enforcement will be rolling up and you must follow law enforcement’s instructions. I believe that it is best to have your firearm holstered by the time police get out of their cars. After you make your limited statement or, conversely inform police that you will say nothing without the presence of an attorney, you tell them you would be more than happy to assist further in the investigation once you’ve spoken to your lawyer.

The final leg in this journey is to get your legal team together. This legal team will be needed to prepare for criminal prosecution or civil law suit and shall include, in the minimum, your attorney and his team members, two or more private investigators, and experts. Don’t wait for the state to file charges, since valuable evidence may no longer be available for your team to investigate. Knowing who you will call will give you additional self-confidence in the event of an engagement.

J. Patrick Buckley, is a Naples, FL attorney who is active both in self-defense instruction and his law practice. Attorney Buckley writes a column for his local newspaper which he generously shares with us here. He also serves as a Network affiliated attorney. We deeply appreciate all of his contributions.

President’s Message

Ever hear of Joe Zamudio? He is the 24 year old Tucson resident who was in a nearby store when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot, and who ran to the sound of gunfire to help if he could. Upon arrival, he saw the shooter, Jared Loughner struggling with others, and he helped subdue and hold Loughner until police arrived. Well, recently, I had the pleasure of working with him at a training class taught by the Massad Ayoob Group, when I was asked by Ayoob to fill in for him so Ayoob could travel and testify in a court case. It is my understanding that the day before I arrived, Zamudio gave a talk at the class, which was very emotional as he recounted the events as he remembered them. Unfortunately I missed the talk, but was able to share a ride with him to the classroom after a range session, and I personally got to thank him for making us armed citizens look good. Zamudio was carrying his pistol during Loughner’s attack, but instead of drawing it and waving it around and possibly endangering others, it remained in his holster, as upon his arrival, he didn’t perceive an immediate threat to himself or others. Well done, Joe.

Helping Others

I am an avid motorcycle rider, and as such, I frequent several Internet motorcycle forums. On one such forum, a message was posted discussing how a forum member has fallen on hard financial times, was facing eviction from his home, and to top it all off, his wife has recently had a return of the cancer she had previously fought and thought she beat. The person posting the notice was doing so on behalf of the forum member, and asked the people reading the message if they couldn’t give a few bucks to help out. The effort to assist is still ongoing, but results in this community fund raiser showed several thousand dollars raised over the Internet, mostly in $10 and $20 dollar amounts, which has helped the member get solvent. This is the modern day equivalent of a church fund raiser to help a needy family, and it got me thinking. This event and this group of motorcycle riding folks are no different from you and me and other members of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. While we are building the war chest to help a member with legal costs (and soon we hope to have our legal defense fund fully funded), until that time comes, if needed we can all feel comforted by the knowledge that if asked, many members of the Network would likely give a few extra dollars to fight a wrongful prosecution of a member. We are just as generous as a bunch of motorcycle riders, aren’t we? In fact, we tested this idea when early on, during the first year of operation when we helped raise money for the Larry Hickey legal defense. I know many Network members contributed generously, and I know Larry and his family will be forever grateful. And, speaking of Larry Hickey…

Update on Larry Hickey

Larry Hickey was in the same Massad Ayoob Group class Joe Zamudio attended. I was able to spend some time with Larry and see how he was doing after his ordeal. He also gave about an hour long talk (which I was able to listen to) and I must tell you, the 25+ students in attendance who heard Larry discuss the incident and aftermath were astonished that he was prosecuted to begin with, then further astonished to learn he was prosecuted a second time. They were even more astonished to learn that the lead detective mislead the Grand Jury which resulted in Larry’s indictment, and even further astonished to learn how the Pima County Prosecuting Attorney’s office kept soldiering on with the prosecution, even after they knew this information. I am pleased to report that Larry and his family are doing fine, and they are back in their home, getting on with their lives, and Larry continues to be active in firearms training.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis

The recent earthquake in Japan and resultant tsunami should serve as a reminder to each of us that natural disasters such as this can happen to just about any of us. I live near a major metropolitan area (Seattle) in an earthquakeprone area near the ocean and can imagine this happening here. I hope people are taking preparedness precautions. While we are not likely to be personally endangered by such an occurrence, we could find ourselves visiting the city when an event like this might occur, and even if we are physically safe, I would expect within hours, the start of a societal breakdown like that seen in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina flooded that city. This is one of the reasons I am always armed when legal. While my day to day activities are generally pretty mundane and I try to avoid precarious situations whenever possible, you just never know when you might be driving down the road and an earthquake or tornado decides to strike.

From a sociological standpoint, I am interested in the lack of societal breakdown in Japan compared to what we could expect here. Not sure what it says about either Japan or the U.S. I guess that is something for sociologists to ponder, and I expect many doctoral dissertations will be presented on the phenomenon in the years to come.

Network Affiliated Attorney List Restricted

As this resource grows (167 as of this writing), please remember that the attorneys on this list have agreed to be a resource for our members only. We ask that you not share the names over the Internet. Affiliated attorneys and attorneys I’ve invited to become affiliates have asked me more than once about whether or not we keep this information private. Many attorneys correctly believe that publicity about their pro-gun beliefs could compromise their other business and client relationships. I feel this is sound policy and I ask that we all respect it and keep the list private. See Us at the NRA Convention As we have had for the last two years, the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network will attend and have a booth at the upcoming NRA members meeting, scheduled for April 30-May 1. I will be busy all day Friday attending the law seminar, but will be in the booth on Saturday and Sunday to promote the Network and hopefully sign up many new members. We feel it is vital for the Network to work hand in hand with the NRA and other like organizations to foster and promote the right of the armed citizen to use deadly force in self defense when warranted.

More Travel

In May, Network V.P. Vincent Shuck and I will be traveling to Tulsa, OK to participate in the 2011 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, hosted at the United States Shooting Academy and coordinated by Tom Givens and the staff of Rangemaster. I have been attending this event for several years, and this year, the Network is using the event as the focal point for our next DVD, Dynamics of Violent Encounters. We will be setting up a stage of fire and videotaping the participants, then using the footage to explain many aspects of what occurs during a shooting incident. I am looking forward to the event, and the chance to get our next DVD project moving forward with some dynamic, illustrative videography. Speaking of the event, Tom Givens (one of our Advisory Board members) tells me that there are still openings for attendees, so Network members who might want to attend should check out the following link and click on the Tactical Conferences button on the left. This is a very worthwhile training event, and it is usually filled by now, so if anyone in the area wants to spend a very enjoyable weekend shooting guns, training and being with a hundred-plus like minded individuals, please consider contacting Tom and signing up. Each year I come back re-energized about what we are doing, and with the conference being the focal point of the next DVD, I am really looking forward to this year’s event.

Vice President’s Message

Come See Us As noted in the president’s column, the Network will participate in the upcoming NRA meeting. We will have a booth to recruit new members, visit with current members and serve as a staging area to interact with corporate sponsors. Aside from the Network’s presence in the exhibit hall, the NRA annual meeting is a spectacular event that all Network members would enjoy. Why not join us?

The meeting will be held at the Pittsburgh Convention Center, April 29 – May 1. Admission to the exhibition hall is FREE for NRA members. There will be about 500 exhibits covering every aspect of the shooting, hunting and related industries, top-shelf seminars, and worldclass speakers. Officials revealed the 2010 NRA convention in Charlotte drew close to 80,000 attendees and they expect even more in Pittsburgh.

The city itself is unique since this is the spot where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio River – you can visit this junction at Point State Park and spit into the water that will find its way to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. Certainly our many Pennsylvania members should consider attending, but others within driving or short flying distance are encouraged to look at their schedules and ponder the opportunity to visit with Network representatives as well as participate in the other meeting segments.

At the meeting itself, if roaming the exhibit hall is not enough for you, other program activities include an air gun range where marksmen of all ages can take a shot at a bull’s-eye, a firearms law seminar, instructor training courses, a concealed carry round table, handloading lectures, clubs and association workshops, and the annual meeting of members. Further information about the meeting can be found at

This will be a special NRA meeting for the Network since we will be occupying space next to the US Concealed Carry Association’s booth. Our colleagues, Kathy Jackson, the USCCA publication’s editor, and Mark Walters, a USCCA magazine contributor and the host of Armed America Radio, will be in the USCCA booth. We look forward to spending time in the exhibit hall next to them. Marty, Brady Wright, the Network’s special projects manager, and I would enjoy seeing you in Pittssburgh. We’ll be in booth # 2549 – hope to see you there.

Affiliated Attorney Question of the Month

Thanks to the generous help of our Network Affiliated Attorneys in this column, we introduce our members to our affiliated attorneys while demystifying aspects of the legal system for our readers. In this month’s column, we continue with answers to a question posed by a Network member who asked—

Many carry smart phones that are capable of voice recording as well as video recording. If a person involved in a self-defense shooting were to have the wherewithal to record the conversations with responding officers as well as video the physical evidence, would that be of benefit? Are there legal concerns such as gaining permission of those being recorded?

The question, introduced last month, generated so many illuminating responses that we continue it here and expect to finish it in May. We appreciate this question, and encourage other members to e-mail questions they’d like discussed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Robert Fleming
Attorney at Law
148 E. Grand River, Ste. 106, Williamston, MI 48895
517-203-1100–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The answer to that question is going to be very state specific. In Michigan, if the person making the recording is an actual participant in the conversation being recorded, not merely one who is able to overhear it, then they may record it with others’ permission. They may not however transmit it to a third party to be recorded. Even if they are obviously listening in on a third parties conversation they may not record it. Nor may they transmit a conversation they are actually a party to, to a third party to be recorded.

Michigan, like most states, has an eavesdropping statue, which people need to be ware of.

Lawrence E. Freedman
203 S. Sunnyside Ave., Sequim, WA 98382
360-809-0164–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

No can do. RCW 9.073.030 prohibits recording or divulging of any private conversation without consent of ALL parties to the conversation. There are exceptions but they would not seem to apply. However, a person recording a news event who is either full or part time press is exempted, if one has such a friend and is not a participant in the conversation. The subjective intent of the parties to the communication is among the factors to be considered as to the expectation of privacy of the conversation to be free from recording (State v. Townsend 147 Wn. 2nd 666 involving e-mails). All such recorded communications without consent are NOT admissible in Court proceedings (RCW 9.73.050). The criminal sanction for violating 030 is a gross misdemeanor meaning a year in jail and $5,000 fine (RCW 9.73.080).

Richard H. Seaton, Jr.
Seaton, Seaton & Gillespie, LLC
410 Humboldt, Manhattan, KS 66505
785-776-4788–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

My advice is to record what ever is said to you, but generally I advise clients to invoke as soon as they have laid the basis of their defense and ID’d any physical evidence to the police, i.e. “I thought he was going to kill me. There is the knife he was using to threaten me. I want to speak to my lawyer.” Better use for the smart phone might be to photograph the physical evidence before the police get there, then tell the cops the pictures are on the phone. Make sure to tell your lawyer that you have done this and that you told the cops about it. First use of the phone obviously is to call the cops. BE THE FIRST TO CALL.

I think it would be good to make sure there is an admonition to not take pictures of the person who is shot. It probably won’t help in the criminal case and might prove pretty darn damning in a wrongful death civil case, particularly if the person is still alive (wrongful death cases get much more valuable if the plaintiff can prove that the decedent suffered prior to expiring). Of course every case is a separate matter. 

Timothy J. Priebe, Esq.
Priebe Law Firm, LLC
1155 Kelly Johnson Blvd., Ste. 111,
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
719-388-8899–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The inquirer sounds as if he is willing to submit to a formal interrogation after the incident. Recording this may or may not help him. What will help is to stick with Massad Ayoob’s “five bare bone statements:”

1. This person attacked me;
2. I will sign the complaint regarding the attack;
3. Here is the evidence;
4. Here are the witnesses;
5. Officer, you will get my full cooperation after I’ve spoken to counsel.

If he wants to record those statements, I say great. However, there is a good chance that the police officer will not want/allow him to record. The officer is trained to make the environment regarding the questioning favor him. Allowing a potential suspect to video/audio record is probably not going to happen.

As to the evidence, if the person has the mental thought to record the evidence before the police arrive, that would be beneficial. However, none of the evidence must be disturbed in any manner. I would advise to state on the recording the date and time. A person would need to be careful about saying anything further on the tape. In some states, this statement could be an exception to the hearsay rule of evidence and used, if discovered, by the prosecution. Of course, hopefully all that is said on the tape would be beneficial to the person making the statement.

James B. Fleming
Fleming Law Offices, P.A.
P O Box 1569, Monticello, MN 55362
(763) 360-7234–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In my opinion, this is an invitation to disaster. Officers responding to a shooting are not going to react well to the citizen/shooter, trying to follow them around in an attempt to record the interviews that investigating officers conduct with third party witnesses, or the shooting victim (if still alive and able to be interviewed). Witnesses may also react badly to such activity, and it may damage their perception of the citizen/shooter irreparably. It may well also be construed as an attempt at witness intimidation or interference.

I see nothing wrong with the idea of having one’s own statements to the investigators recorded, but I would leave that up to your legal counsel to decide and arrange. No citizen involved in a deadly force encounter has any business giving an in depth statement to the investigators at the scene, let alone having the wherewithal to fumble around with a recorder as you make those statements, while still under the influence of the physical and emotional stress, and sensory impairment that follow in the aftermath of every deadly force encounter. That ill-conceived action would have your attorney screaming at you later for being so foolhardy. And, make no mistake, an attorney who would not scream at you under such circumstances is not worth what you would be paying them.

Like it or not, the reality is that you will not be treated as a hero, you will be treated as a suspect, until all the facts are in. Other than giving the officers rudimentary information (as Mas Ayoob has recommended over and over again) sufficient to alert them to the fact that you acted in self defense, and that you will not give a full statement until your attorney is present, the best thing to do is stay quiet and wait until your attorney is present to represent you during any questioning. The old adage, “He who is his own lawyer, has a fool for a client,” was not coined in jest. Many things a foolhardy client breaks, the attorney cannot repair.

Witness statements will be demanded by your attorney from the state’s prosecuting attorney, or from plaintiff’s counsel if a civil action follows in the aftermath of a selfdefense shooting. You won’t really be able to affect what those witnesses say by trying to actively participate in their questioning by law enforcement officers. 

Jason Davis
Davis & Associates
27281 Las Ramblas, Ste 200, Mission Viejo, CA 92691
949-310-0817–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

With regard to gaining permission for those involved, that varies from state to state. I generally like the idea of having a recording for clarity, but given the heightened emotional circumstances involved in a shooting, and the fact that anything one says can and will be used against them, I do not recommend it. For example, assume a black individual attacks a white individual, who shoots in a justified self defense. If the recording begins after the shooting, and has the victim of the crime using racial slurs in excitement, it could be used to show that it was not a justified defense, but a racist attack.

It is my recommendation that the first person one calls in self defense is 911, and the second is their attorney.

Eric W. Schaffer
Attorney at Law
Schaffer, Black & Flores P.C.
129 W. Patrick St., #5, Frederick, MD 21701
301-682-5060–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In Maryland it is a felony to record a private conversation without both parties’ consent. It is an unclear area of the law right now if a citizen’s interaction with law enforcement officers can be considered a private conversation. (Google ‘”Anthony Graber Maryland trooper motorcycle” to see an example where someone is facing felony charges for recording a traffic stop.) For that reason I would not advise anyone in Maryland to surreptitiously record a conversation with a police officer with their smart phone. A better suggestion would be to dial 911 if you are able to and leave the phone on throughout the whole incident. All 911 calls are recorded and a record of the incident could be preserved that way until the 911 operator disconnects.

Debbe von Blumenstein
Attorney at Law
154 SW Oak Street, Dallas, OR 97338
503-831-1550–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In Oregon, you can record someone over the phone without notification of being recorded. But you have to notify them if you are having an in-person contact. I know of one incident where a person wanted to record a conversation with an officer but the officer would not let him. If a person was involved in a self-defense incident, they could agree to an interview at the police station with an attorney present and request that it be recorded, so they know what was actually said.

David A. Bieganowski
David A. Bieganowski, PLC
400 E. 8th St., Traverse City, MI 49686
231-947-6073–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In Michigan you can record conversations that you are a part of without the other party’s consent. The recorder doesn’t have to be in the open or known to the other party either. I say it can’t hurt to record anything you can record. Terry Ryan The Terry Ryan Law Firm, LLC 125 S. Howes St., Ste. 910, Ft Collins, CO 80521 970-556-9878–This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. In most states, there are no issues about recording a conversation if one party consents. The same is true with recording a telephone conversation. The only concern is what might the victim say. This person is not a lawyer and will be under great stress. It is certainly conceivable that he or she will say something that a prosecutor might twist in a later trial (I’ve heard that lawyers do that sort of thing). On balance, I would be wary.

We appreciate the contributions our affiliated attorneys make to the Network, including their interesting responses to questions in this column. Contact information for our Network affiliated attorneys is linked at Member log in required.

Teaching Children to Shoot

by Alecs Dean

Training children is one of the most overlooked aspects of firearm instruction. It can be a sensitive topic given the question of whether it is politically correct. As instructors we can get caught up in the commercial aspect of training adults in the area of concealed carry and do not consider the importance of youth training. In a recent review of firearm magazines I could not find a single article regarding the training of anyone under 18 in the safe use and handling of firearms. One question I am often asked as a firearm instructor is, “How old should my child be before I begin to teach him to shoot or take him with me to the range?” My answer is always the same, “I can’t answer that for you, because it is not based upon age, but, rather upon several other criteria, some of which include maturity, size, and desire.”

In my personal opinion as a firearm instructor, it is much better and also much easier to train children than it is to train adults. For example, is it easier to learn a foreign language if you start when you are five or when you are 45? Is it easier to learn to play an instrument if you begin at age ten or age 40? We are literally sponges when we are young and learn at an exponentially faster rate. We also have not developed incorrect habits and procedures yet, so childhood is a perfect time to start teaching a proper and responsible approach to firearm safety.

The correct approach to this should be formalized training, not simply being taken to the range with mom or dad, or grandpa. This is perfectly acceptable, but only after the child has been taught an established curriculum and recognized rules for firearm safety. After all, do you simply want to pass on your bad habits to your children? Remember, they don’t do what you say, they do what you do. They do what they see you doing. By taking your children to the range with you before you have them attend a formalized, accredited firearm safety course with established, standardized curriculum, aren’t you just subconsciously telling them, “shooting is the important part, firearm safety is just an afterthought if you have time for it?” It is absolutely imperative to provide any of your children that have expressed interest in shooting firearms with an accredited safety course before you ever take them to the range the first time, not after. This cannot be overemphasized.

In preparing this article I contacted National Rifle Association Training Counselor David Southall. Mr. Southall is the Curator of Education for the Collier County Museum and is a finalist for the Remington Youth Hunter Safety Mentor of the Year. He has been certifying other instructors to train children for over 25 years and has been training children specifically since 1963. One of the many things that Mr. Southall stressed was that training courses are not truncated for children. Instructors may emphasize different areas, and training children may take a little longer, but “it is an adult responsibility and all the same safety rules, and parts and operation are the same for children and youths as it is for adults.” Mr. Southall recommends the very best way to obtain proper training in the safe usage of firearms is through the many programs available in the Boy Scouts of America at He indicated one of the biggest roles of the Boy Scouts is to present a positive image of firearms to our nation’s youth to combat the portrayals of firearms you see every day in the media and coming from Hollywood.

As you can see we keep emphasizing the importance that the training should follow a standardized, established, set of curriculum. This is reflected in the programs available through the Boy Scouts of America: all BSA Firearm Instructors for Merit Badges must be National Rifle Association firearm instructors and the curriculum utilized is the NRA standardized training materials. That is the gold standard worldwide. The Boy Scouts’ programs of responsible use of firearms begins at the age they have determined children are able to begin to differentiate right from wrong at age 7. At this age the Cub Scouts have a program for introducing the fundamentals of firearm safety through the usage of BB Guns. It is very important to note that BB guns and air guns have the very same safety rules as anything else that fires a projectile – the fundamental rules of firearm safety do not change. This is why they are called “fundamental.” The very meaning of this term is the basic essentials. And it is necessary to develop in children the basic essential elements of firearm safety. These programs are also where the child can be shown the difference between toy guns and real guns, the difference between movies and video games and real life. Mr. Southall kept repeating the most important factors that need to be constantly stressed: safety and responsibility.

There are a number of volunteers throughout the country that provide the National Rifle Association Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program for children ages 3-10. The course description, as found at reads, “The Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program teaches children in pre-K through third grade four important steps to take if they find a gun. These steps are presented by the program’s mascot, Eddie Eagle®, in an easy-to-remember format consisting of the following simple rules: If you see a gun: STOP! Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.”

The Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program isn’t necessarily about how you may choose to store a firearm as a responsible gun owner, but rather what does little six-year-old Timmy - whose parents may not own firearms - do when he goes to visit the home of little Joey, whose parents may not be as responsible in their safe storage of a firearm. One of the very first words that a child might learn is “hot,” in reference to the stove, to not touch the hot stove. We teach them to not go out into the street when they play in the front yard; but we don’t get rid of our cars. This is simply the same logic being instituted at a similar young age by the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program.

I also interviewed NRA Certified Instructor Kelly Wagner for this article. Mrs. Wagner is the Director of Education for Florida Eco Safaris, located just Southeast of Orlando, Florida. One of the specific areas that Mrs. Wagner likes to focus on is teaching muzzle-loading rifle shooting to youths ages 10-15. Mrs. Wagner indicated that not only does this teach them the safe and responsible use of firearms, but it is a very fun way to teach history and introduce education into the activities. Mrs. Wagner repeated the themes I kept hearing from all instructors and parents I spoke to for this article: safe and responsible. She stressed keeping the training courses fun for children and having them focus on the safe application of shooting fundamentals without allowing competition between the youths. Most of her students come from the many different scouting and camping group activities that are available. Mrs. Wagner is an excellent example of the type of dedicated professional available to train our children in the safety and responsibility that we want them to demonstrate with guns. She may be contacted at

My company also offers commercially available firearm training. Many instructors choose to focus on other aspects of firearm training due to the specific laws, as well as liability potential. One requirement that I have in place is that both parents must sign off on the release and training (and this can help to avoid potential embarrassing conflicts as well). Always remember to have an attorney draft a release. However, in the State of Florida, not even both the parents can sign away the rights to the estate of the minor. This is yet another reason to make sure to follow a set established curriculum, such as provided by the National Rifle Association. When I interviewed “MJ,” a young mother of a teenager that has taken multiple training courses from my company, she indicated her difficulty in locating an instructor that would provide training simply because so many were concerned with the liability issue, or with the legality of when a child may utilize a firearm. She actually acquired a gun for her 15-year-old son for his birthday, yet he is not allowed to even touch this firearm unless they are at the gun range attending an accredited, certified firearm training course, in the presence of an instructor. Not only is the firearm stored under lock and key, unloaded, but the child does not even know where it is stored. Now that is safe, responsible use and storage of a firearm. In Florida, as long as one parent is present, a child may legally attend a course of fire at a range for the purpose of firearm training (now before I get hundreds of e-mails and phone calls, yes, I know this is not a complete rendering of exactly what the law is - but that is not the purpose of this article. Please remember to check both the laws in your own state and to be in compliance with Federal Law). The main thing to remember is to seek certified, accredited training from a properly licensed firearm instructor that is familiar with the issues of liability regarding training children who also has experience in training children. Training children in anything requires additional practice and experience.

Yet another issue on which I am questioned almost weekly, is whether or not to permit children to play with toy guns. Again, my answer to this is that it is not my decision, it is up to the parent to be a parent. However, when asked to render advice as a firearm instructor experienced in teaching children I offer up the following: do you really think you can stop them? Think back to when you were a child - you didn’t even need someone to go buy you a toy cap pistol, all that you needed was a stick and your imagination. Weren’t some of the most fun games to play cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers or army? We wouldn’t give an eightyear-old the keys to our car to go play with it, but he certainly does have plenty of Matchbox cars with which to play race or smash-up derby and then when the appropriate time comes we begin to teach him the safe and responsible usage of a motor vehicle through driver education. How is a firearm any different?

Training our youth is also the way to pass on the tradition to the next generation. Remember the first time your father or grandfather took you to the range or took you hunting? Firearms are used in Olympic Sports and the Paralympics. Certain college programs offer scholarships to the most proficient junior shooters. There are a great number of other organizations that offer programs specifically available to children, as I learned when I spoke with Ms. Claudia Olsen, the National Coordinator of Youth Programs for the National Rifle Association. Ms. Olsen wanted me to make sure to pass along information about the many wonderful youth shooting programs at the state level, such as the 4-H clubs, the National High School Rodeo Association, the FFA, and literally dozens of NRA Clubs and Associations. The NRA has different scholarship programs available. You can find out about dozens of these at The NRA has memberships available specifically for junior shooters, along with its very own monthly publication called Insights, News For Young Shooters. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has its First Shots program and they will actually provide free .22 rifles to clubs that participate in these programs. Please contact about these and other programs.

So, if you have children and firearms in your home, please make sure to get accredited, certified safety training for your young children in access prevention. And when you think about training for yourself, think of your child, too. The next time you go to the range, find out if your child has interest in going with you – whether for rifle, shotgun, or pistol. If so, make sure to take him to his first accredited firearm safety and training course. The next time you are leaving for a hunting trip, talk to your son or daughter about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. Instructors and parents - this is up to both of you: you are responsible for our next generation of safe firearm owners.

Alecs Dean is an NRA Training Counselor in Fort Myers, Florida. He offers many commercially available courses as well as volunteer programs for youths and children through his company, International Firearm Safety, Inc. He is available for questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 239-357- 3437 or 

DVD Review

Defensive Revolver Fundamentals

with Grant Cunningham and Rob Pincus
Personal Defense Network
1903 Wayzata Blvd. E., Wayzata, MN 55391
1 hour program plus bonus segment Suggested Retail Price–$24.95

Reviewed by Gila Hayes

Revolvers carried for self defense are among the bestkept secrets of self-defense shooters. Of the many folks you see at the range, in classes, and who correspond on the Internet, most shoot and discuss semi-automatic pistols, but rarely is carrying the humble revolver admitted. Ironically, the revolver is without question the handgun most often carried—even by the same semi-auto shooters so enthusiastically involved with their autoloader.

Gun popularity closely mimics equipment in use by police and elite military personnel. Perhaps thinking among armed citizens goes thus: if the latest, most fashionable semi-auto pistol is the choice of police and military, it must also be best for individual defense. What happens, though, when the shooter trained on a full-sized Heckler & Koch or Beretta becomes licensed to carry outside the home? Unless of large stature and bulk, he or she will almost certainly downsize and often for concealment, choose a truly tiny handgun to carry. Want to guess the most common tiny carry handgun? The revolver, of course.

That’s actually good, especially if the gun carrier is going to use a pocket holster or non-holster carry alternative, as the revolver brings an added layer of safety owing to the long and stiff trigger pull. If the revolver gives us a safer deep concealment carry gun, its relative operational difficulty is primarily the reason so few revolver carriers perform any substantial practice on the equipment with which they plan to save their lives.

These issues and more are the topic of an informative DVD by Personal Defense Network, featuring Rob Pincus and gunsmith Grant Cunningham, both Network members and supporters. If you carry a revolver for self defense, solutions defined in this DVD could ease your revolver shooting experience to the extent that you may do a better job of practicing and training with your carry revolver.

Entitled Defensive Revolver Fundamentals this hourlong program begins with a recitation of the revolver’s many positive characteristics, as Pincus and Cunningham laud its simple operation, safety, powerful cartridge in a small frame, and the ease of adapting the gun’s fit to the hand.

Cunningham is a renowned revolver smith and lifetime shooter, who uses a revolver for daily carry as well as competitive shooting. His experience contributes much to the solutions he discusses as the presentation moves to perceived disadvantages to carrying and shooting revolvers.

Leading these complaints is the revolver’s smaller ammunition capacity coupled with the perceived difficulty in speed loading the gun, Pincus suggests. Not necessarily so, Cunningham counters, suggesting that with practice, a skilled person can reload a revolver as quickly as an average semi-auto shooter can reload. A gunsmith can chamfer the chambers, and that nearly imperceptible angle cut into the chamber mouths allows bullet tips to slip in much easier than if the chambers are completely straight edged. In addition, speed loaders like the Safariland Comp IIs and similar products, give a speed advantage that helps override the slow reload complaint. 

Cunningham admits that recoil is considered worse in a revolver than in a semi-auto, citing the revolver’s design which does not put any of the recoil energy to work cycling the gun. This is particular noticeable, he says, when shooting powerful ammunition, so he recommends a tight grip and strong stance to mitigate the recoil and muzzle rise.

Pincus asks about the revolver’s weight, an advantage in terms of recoil absorption, but a disadvantage for carrying the gun all day. Today, revolver frames are made of a variety of materials ranging from extremely light alloys to heavy steel. The user must choose steel or alloy based on their needs, Cunningham notes. Pincus suggests a heavy steel-framed gun for training and practice, and an identical model in a light alloy material for daily carry. Taking the idea a step beyond, Cunningham suggests that a practice revolver in .22LR gives low-recoil practice on a gun with identical operation to your carry revolver.

Cunningham gives an illuminating discourse on revolver replacement sights, as well as action jobs to ease the trigger pull. First, he notes that proper hand position on the gun gives better leverage on the trigger, making it feel more manageable. Consider replacing grips to attain proper hand fit, which Cunningham details. In addition, dry fire builds up the strength needed for trigger control. Finally, a gun smith can lighten trigger pull weight, he adds, as well as rounding and polishing the trigger itself so the finger moves up and down it as is necessary during the trigger pull.

This leads to a discussion of other recommended modifications including rounding and polishing edges on the gun. Called “dehorning,” rounding sharp edges not only protects against abrasion, but also eliminates snagging on concealment clothing. Cunningham further recommends crowning the muzzle of a revolver carried in a pocket or other non-holster method to recess the portion of the barrel subject to accuracy-damaging dings and nicks. 

The DVD contains a live-fire element in which Cunningham explains how he teaches shooters to manage the revolver’s long, heavy double action trigger pull. Hand position, both the palm on the grips and the finger on the trigger, and even the thumbs’ location all contribute to easier management of that trigger pull, he demonstrates. He then explains two distinct elements of trigger pull, emphasizing that these consist of a smooth rearward motion on the trigger before the shot and the smooth release forward after the shot. “Watch your sights as you do this,” Cunningham advises as Pincus demonstrates the trigger work. Additional advice includes letting the trigger finger slide across the face of the trigger and up and down on the trigger during the trigger pull and additional advice deals with speed shooting with the double action revolver.

Cunningham addresses revolver malfunctions, attributing most to user error, especially during reloading. He demonstrates his reloading technique, designed to maximize empty case ejection. This he demonstrates, as well as use of speed loaders and speed strips. “Reloading the revolver is a fiddly process under the best of circumstances. That is why we need to practice,” Cunningham concludes.

Practicing skills in their real-life context is important, Pincus concurs, adding that this is at the heart of his Combat Focus Shooting program. Testing reloading skills while shooting and walking a figure-eight pattern is a fine test of how well engrained the steps of a speed reload really are, and this Cunningham demonstrates admirably. The reloading segment concludes with a demonstration of left-handed reloads for the revolver.

This DVD is must-see viewing for anyone who has a revolver for self defense. The topics will make you think, perhaps challenge some of the long-accepted “wisdom” you’ve believed about the revolver, and maybe even help you find a new interest in this iconic handgun.

Editor’s Notebook

The Network is growing! In March we pushed membership to 3600, and I’m sure membership will stay in this range despite the few members that may fail to renew during the next renewal/expiration cycle. While it is disheartening to fail to get a response to our request for renewal, in the big picture, the Network enjoys a tremendous renewal rate, compared to other organizations. Since starting three years ago, a whopping 87% of all members renewed when their year’s membership term was up. Of course, about 16% of active members have taken the convenient 3-year membership, and so they don’t face the yearly renewal cycle at all.

The Network doesn’t pepper members with requests for renewal months in advance, because we know our members take their role in the Network seriously and don’t need to be constantly reminded. For members who use email, we send an e-mail alert 60 days prior to expiration, and then 30 days before the expiration date, we mail out a paper letter with a state of the Network report and ending in a request for membership renewal. A third letter sent upon membership expiration usually gets the job done for any members who got busy and forgot to renew. We respect our members’ time and intelligence and don’t hound them about renewals. Besides, not mailing a member a dozen letters requesting early or multi-year renewal, or asking support for this or that, preserves monies for the legal defense fund and for efforts to build Network membership.

The Network buys little traditional advertising. Print and TV ads only give the “headlines” about an issue, and there is never enough time or room to fully explore a critical topic as large as armed self defense legalities and aftermath of using a gun. Instead, education is our outreach tool.

The people we want as members are responsible, educated gun owners – men and women who understand that enormous legal responsibility attaches to the use of their gun. But, finding reliable information about what happens after using a gun in self defense has historically been nextto-impossible for gun owners. One rarely has trouble finding training about local laws, state concealed carry laws, and solid education about gun safety and marksmanship. We owe the National Rifle Association considerable credit for the gun safety and marksmanship instruction that is so widely available, and as state-licensed concealed carry has become the norm and not the exception, more and more instructors are also teaching about the local and state laws governing possessing and carrying guns. What a positive evolution from the days when a young adult was largely dependent on what knowledge or mistaken information a family member or gun hobbyist shared with them.

But where can the armed citizen go to learn about the criminal justice system – that part of our government the law-abiding gun owner respects but wishes never to experience? To simply answer, “Talk to a lawyer” grossly oversimplifies the difficulty of this information quest. Further compounding the blight of ignorance is the fact that even the best attorney 1) rarely defends an innocent person on criminal charges, 2) receives extremely limited instruction in law school on the justification of self-defense as a defense against criminal charges, and 3) makes the bulk of their money defending active cases, not giving out advice to callers who are worried about a possible situation they might face sometime in the misty future. 

Many years ago, Massad Ayoob began to make cracks in that wall of ignorance, teaching his Judicious Use of Deadly Force curriculum, and whetting the appetite of serious self-defense gun owners for more. Ayoob’s writing and lectures alerted gun owners to concerns about what happens after using a gun in self defense, an area of inquiry that is too often brushed off with the ignorant response that if you’re justified in shooting, everything will turn out OK.

While the gun owning community is better educated about self-defense aftermath issues today than 20 or 30 years ago, the fact remains that an alarming amount of misinformation is still parroted, though hearteningly, a number of savvy gun owners recognize the answers as too facile, and grow concerned about what they don’t know.

Enter the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. As noted earlier, instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on slick advertising in magazines and on “gun TV,” the Network has taken a different approach.

Recognizing that traditional ads just didn’t work for this topic, the Network decided early on to invest heavily in educational outreach, basing our publicity campaign on the 24-page booklet What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law written by Network President Marty Hayes. We’ve invested a lot of money, time and effort to place that booklet in the hands of as many gun stores, gunsmiths and firearms instructors as possible.

The outreach to instructors began as soon as the Network was formed; the job of inviting gun shops and gunsmiths to give the booklet to each of their customers started a year ago. Last week, we completed the first phase of contacting gun shops and we are now in the follow up stage, recontacting Federal Firearms Licensees to whom we previously sent samples of the booklets with an offer to provide as many copies as they could give out.

The booklets are provided at absolutely no cost; we buy the booklets and we pay to ship them. Why not try to make some money off the booklets? Experience has shown that those little booklets are tremendous selling tools so we want them widely acessible. Unlike advertising, the booklet contains vital information for the gun owner who picked it up at his or her local gun shop or received it from an instructor. Most recognize that it contains information on a topic they know they NEED to understand, and so they holdon to it until they have time to read it from cover to cover.

The booklet’s final pages include a message from the booklet’s author explaining why membership in the Network is so important to the gun owner. This message comes, however, only after many pages of valuable information about justifiable use of deadly force, self defense laws, issues like who was the initial aggressor in a conflict that led to use of a gun, and more.

In the end, whether or not the reader decides to join the Network, we’ve created a better educated gun owner who is less likely to blacken our collective reputation by using a gun in circumstances when walking away or taking other action would be the right thing to do. However, many, many readers do call us to ask questions and join the Network, and they make sure to tell us that the reason they’re calling is that they were given this little booklet that got them started thinking.

The Network owes a debt of gratitude to the firearms instructors and gun shops that affiliate with us to distribute the booklet. These are our compatriots who share our passion for making sure gun owners see the entire truth about using a gun for self defense, including what comes after. The Network recognizes these firearms and gun shops on our web site, and we encourage you to look up the affiliated gun shops and instructors in your state and do business with them. That’s the definition of a “Network,” isn’t it? A network of like-minded people sharing the same goals and working hand in hand.