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Network Legal Defense Fund Track Record

by Network President Marty Hayes

At the recent NRA Annual Meeting, many visitors to the Network booth asked about our track record of assisting our members. Their questions inspired me to write a report for members detailing the post-incident support we’ve provided for members. Ironically, although details about members assisted by the Legal Defense Fund tops the list of information requested, member privacy concerns keep us from using this all-important facet of membership services as a promotional tool.

I know that if you were one of the members who received support from the Legal Defense Fund, you would not want me to share details. With that in mind, I am going to do my best to sketch out in general terms the cases the Network has funded without violating any member’s privacy.

Since its inception in 2008, the Network has provided assistance from the Legal Defense Fund for eight members. Of those, I can talk about only six, because two cases are still on going. Still, there are lessons to be learned, so let me present thumbnail sketches and outline what we can learn from the cases.

The six “closed” requests for assistance included two felony assault charges. For these cases, we forwarded the members’ attorneys $10,000 to provide legal representation. Neither of these cases went to trial, so no additional funding was requested. In one of the felony cases, the individual turned out to be the first aggressor in an incident that could best be said to stem from a domestic relationship gone sour and the defendant eventually took a plea offer. In the other case, two or three people in a parking lot set upon our member. After taking a severe beating, he pulled his Glock 19 pistol and threatened use of deadly force. The injuries from the beating were so bad that he first went to the hospital, then to jail.

Why was he jailed, you might ask? You would have to ask the police and prosecutors, but I believe it is because this took place in an urban, anti-gun area. Where attitudes are anti-gun, if you point a gun at unarmed individuals, you will likely be arrested and prosecuted for criminal assault without regard for whether or not you were just beaten.

When the member’s father contacted and told us what had happened, I went to work and within a few hours, arranged for a Network Affiliated Attorney, an experienced criminal defense attorney familiar with the ins and outs of the local court system, to meet with him. We paid the attorney a $10,000 retainer to represent our member. The case was resolved before trial when our member accepted a deferred prosecution for a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct or similar minor offense, with credit for time served (he had spent a few days in jail before arranging bail), and after six months, his record would be wiped clean if he stayed out of trouble.

I suspect you are exclaiming “That’s NOT fair!” and you’re right. It wasn’t fair, but our criminal justice system is not fair. The quicker we all come to that realization, the better off we are. Our member was faced with the decision to plead guilty but have the guilty plea vacated after six months of good behavior, or face two felony counts of aggravated assault. Knowing that, I can’t fault his decision at all! Today, he remains a dues-paying member of the Network, because he has no restrictions against owning firearms.

Display of Firearm Charge

Another case the Network supported involved the display of a firearm after our member was confronted by a group of individuals making threats against our member and his wife. As I understand it, our member pulled his gun but did not point it at anyone.