Membership Survey Findings

by J. Vincent Shuck, Network Vice-President

This past summer we announced the Network’s first membership survey and it remained open to members for approximately one month. I provided a mini-summary in my July column, but we are now ready to provide a more comprehensive executive summary on the results.


Although we had 8,027 members at the time, the 6,543 members with a valid email address were invited to participate in the confidential, online survey. There was a 13.8% response rate representing 907 members. The responses represented a nice cross-section of the membership with 24.9% being a Network member for less than one year, 49% being a member for 1-3 years and 23.9% for 4-6 years. Most (78.2%) of the membership responses came from those who are 51 years of age or older, with only 4% under 35 and 16.7% between 36 and 50.

When asked why they joined the Network, 81% noted the Legal Defense Fund and post-incident support. The second most frequent reason was the attorney network (40%) and the third reason was the Advisory Board members (25%). Tied for fourth was the experience of the leadership and the reasonable annual dues (13%).

Over half (57%) admitted that they had not yet established a relationship with an attorney that they could call upon after a self-defense incident. Most of the respondents (82.9%) have not purchased an item from the book and DVD store located on the Network website.

We asked the members to delve into potential new or expanded activities and two items virtually tied for the top honor. A testing or certification program on self-defense issues and the production of DVDs on self-defense topics came in at 26% and 24%, respectively. You Tube or similar educational production activity was third at 19%.

Other listed options, including a national meeting, certification of firearm instructors, and a website forum were all in single digit favorability.

Topic and article suggestions for the Network’s monthly eJournal essentially covered what is included today with the biggest support (88.2%) for legal questions, self-defense tactics discussion (80.2%), then interviews with instructors and other experts (69.5%). The only new topic was the review of training programs and classes (62.4%).

Analysis and Discussion

What did we learn?

First, our membership growth has expanded exponentially over the past few years with almost half (49%) of the members having a tenure of less than three years with the Network. Of course, the Network itself is only six years old. A large majority (78%) of the members are 51 or older. These findings demonstrate both the newness of the Network and the general age of the self-defense population. While even college students are fighting for the right to carry on campus, where this is usually prohibited, most of the population that the Network sees at meetings, such as the NRA Annual Meeting and the industry trade show, appear to have at least some grey hair. This also comports with gun magazine reader surveys that show over 40% of their readers are age 55+.

Not surprisingly, the largest majority (81%) joined because of the Network’s excellent post incident support and the availability of the Legal Defense Fund. Frankly, when it comes down to dealing with the aftermath of a self-defense incident, members agree that it’s terrific to have our system in place. The second highest reason for joining (40%) is the affiliate attorney network. Who wouldn’t want a competent attorney to deal with a member’s self-defense incident? Our attorney members have expressed interest in joining the Network and have confirmed their pro-gun positions and their understanding of self-defense law.