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He has given several very informative interviews to this journal, and more importantly, Michael gave Marty Hayes his first repeat TV gig as an expert speaking about armed self-defense legalities and aftermath on the popular The Best Defense program. Did you first learn about the Network on The Best Defense? If you did, you are in good company with many other Network members.

Increasing Benefits

By mid year 2009, we introduced a new benefit of an initial deposit against attorney fees paid on behalf of the member from the Network’s Legal Defense Fund. It started as an initial fee deposit of up to $5,000, which we increased to up to $10,000 in late April of 2011. Marty Hayes confers with the member’s attorney, determining the severity of the possible charges and what it will take to get the attorney’s representation underway. When that initial deposit has been used up, if further representation is needed, the member and his or her attorney bring the facts of the case to the Advisory Board to request further funding. This is to reserve use of the Fund to justifiable defensive use of force, once expenses exceed the initial fee deposit.

The Network had another expansion on membership benefits mid summer in 2011, when we made the unprecedented step of making membership benefits available to members using ANY legal form of self defense, not just firearms, as had been the norm in the many look-alike membership organizations that had sprung up to mimic the Network.

The first call for a deposit against attorney’s fees came in March of 2011. Since then, we have also paid deposits against attorney fees on behalf of five other members, to get an attorney to work on their behalf as quickly as possible. As noted earlier, to date, none have needed further financial assistance to defend a justifiable use of force in self defense in a civil or criminal case.

Of course, at some point a member WILL be the target of unmerited prosecution or a civil suit. Fortunately, as we closed out 2013, the Legal Defense Fund had grown to over $320,000, so the financial resources are set aside and ready when that call comes.

The main source of the Legal Defense Fund monies is membership dues, of which we sequestered 20% at first, upping that to a full 25% at the beginning of 2010. In September of 2009, Vincent Shuck brought out a new funding option– auctions of merchandise donated by generous corporate sponsors. Our valued friends at Galco led the way, contributing a sharkskin shoulder holster, raising $555 for our first auction. That was just the beginning! Since then, Galco has continued to gift products for our fundraising auctions, and has been joined by CorBon Ammunition, Black Hills Ammunition, Safe Direction, Crimson Trace Corporation, North American Arms, Accurate Edge and ROBAR.

Stutter Steps

If I only write about glorious successes, you’ll be suspicious that I’m not telling the whole story, right? In addition to much burnt midnight oil and working most weekends, it is true that we have faced a few bumpy patches between January 2008 and January 2014.

We have never feared competition, although we thought it would be from insurance companies and prepaid legal law firms. Not so. In June of 2011 the first look-alike membership benefits suite was introduced; fully a dozen would follow in the years between then and now.

Because these competitors simply copy many of the same terms and ideas that the Network pioneered in 2008, they’ve created no small amount of confusion among armed citizens. This is apparent when prospective members ask us to explain how the Network measures up to these new competitors. We have to regretfully tell them that while we love to talk about what the Network does for its members, we cannot provide authoritative information about other businesses!