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The Affiliated Instructor program proved so successful that we set up a parallel affiliation program for gun shop owners and managers who introduce gun buyers to the Network.

Essentially, in telling their clients why the Network is so important to gun owners, our affiliates are educating them about what happens after using force in self defense. This supports the Network’s philosophy that we must educate as many armed citizens as we can, to prevent judgment errors that fuel support for anti-gun restrictions.

By mid summer 2010, we introduced a new promotional tool, and one that has exposed the Network to hundreds of thousands of armed citizens in the time since. It started as a 16 page booklet entitled What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law, and because we distribute so many, primarily going out to CCW students and gun purchasers through our affiliated instructors and affiliated gun shops, most of our members first learned about the Network through this educational message. The booklet is now up to 24 pages. Written by Network President Marty Hayes, J.D., it explains when use of deadly force is justified and situations that diminish justification, as well as what to expect after acting in self defense.

In addition to the booklet and this monthly online journal, the Network has produced an eight-disk educational DVD series that is provided to members only. This DVD series got its first title in June of 2008 with Marty Hayes’ lecture, Use of Deadly Force in Self Defense. A serious, college-level lecture (no glitzy titles, jazzy music, or scene reenactments), this foundational program is sent to each new Network member along with seven others. Because the Network cannot extend its support to members who use force outside the parameters of the law, members must understand when deadly force is an appropriate defense option and this DVD teaches the fundamentals.

Two more DVD lectures followed in 2008, one stressing Ayoob’s five-step process of interacting with law enforcement after self defense; the other a panel of attorneys discussing how attorneys defend self defense, both from criminal charges and civil law suit. We were pleased to go into the final quarter of our first year with a three-piece educational DVD set to assure that all members understood use of force in self defense, interacting with authorities after self defense, and what to expect in the courts and how to best position themselves to survive the legal aftermath.

Tracking Membership Growth

By the end of its first year the Network had 600 members. It was a modest start, but enough on which to build, when you consider that 12 months earlier, a membership organization to pool post-incident support funding was nothing more than a good idea into which three industry professionals invested their time and money, exploring whether or not other armed citizens also felt the need for these protections.

Membership topped 1,000 March 2009, and about the same time, we decided to show off the Network to National Rifle Association Annual Meeting attendees, a promotional outreach in which we have invested each year since. It is a great venue for the Network, as we have always urged armed citizens to be members of the NRA. We even have a link on the front page of our website encouraging every visitor to either join or renew their membership in the NRA, to keep that venerable organization alive and vital, while adding a small sales commission on NRA memberships to the Network’s Legal Defense Fund.

Another strong voice spreading the word about the Network’s mission has been Michael Bane, creator of Shooting Gallery and The Best Defense TV shows.