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The Value of Training

by Marty Hayes, J.D.

It is my belief and opinion that most of our members are reasonably well trained beyond the information they receive through the Network’s educational DVDs. That’s because each month the majority of new members signing up indicate that they heard about the Network from one of our Network Affiliated Instructors, which means they likely heard about us while they were participating in a class. These students are exactly the type of members we want in the Network: well trained, law abiding citizens.

We do not aggressively advertise the Network. Beyond the fact that we would have to raise membership dues if we spent a boatload of money on promotions, we believe Network participation is something special. The Network needs to be comprised of well-trained, lawfully armed citizens who take their personal security and responsibility as an armed citizen very seriously. With that in mind, this article is geared more towards the non-Network member who occasionally reads this journal, and perhaps has been thinking about joining the Network.

If you are intelligent, well read, and already a good pistol, rifle or shotgun marksman, why do we recommend you take training? First and foremost, good training in gun safety, marksmanship and legal issues is the pathway to the “not guilty” verdict we want to hear at the end of a month long court case. Here is how it works.

Training the Reasonable Person

In every state in the land the jury will judge your self-defense actions against the standard of the reasonable person. What would a reasonable person, knowing what you knew at the time, have done under the same or similar circumstances? The jury will receive jury instructions from the court, but when it is decision time, when that juror votes “guilty” or “not guilty,” they will be asking themselves, “Would I have done the same thing, in his or her shoes?”

Of course, the jurors weren’t in your shoes, and they likely didn’t have a level of training and expertise that you do, so giving them that level of training, communicated through your defense attorney will be YOUR job. “Huh?” you say. Yep, it is your job. You see, the issue goes to YOUR mindset at the time you pointed that gun at the criminal suspects and perhaps pulled the trigger. The jury has a right to see the incident through your eyes, but it is YOUR responsibility to make sure what they envision is accurate. You accomplish this through the admission of evidence of your training, and not just a list of classes you attended. You introduce the actual training document or video into court and if the judge has previously ruled that the jury can see that document or video, then the jurors read it or view it.

The judge has great latitude as to what evidence is admissible, and admissibility of evidence is rarely overturned on appeal. The appellate courts routinely write that they believe the court (the judge) knows best as far as the admissibility of evidence. The rule of admission of evidence basically states that all “relevant” evidence is admissible, unless it is either unreliable or excessively prejudicial.

If the judge believes that you actually did not know the training material and it was NOT part of your mindset, or that the training material or video is “overly prejudicial” then he or she will not let your attorney discuss it. A real life example is seen in Larry Hickey’s trial, discussed at Before the incident, Larry had studied a dashcam video of a Texas law enforcement officer being overpowered and killed with his own weapon.

Larry testified that he thought about that footage while he was being attacked, but the judge, The Honorable Teresa Godoy of the Pima County Superior court, would not let the video be played in court because she said it was overly prejudicial.