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by Gila Hayes

August was a busy month, with the nice side-benefit that the workload included tons of emails and phone visits shared with Network members. A few reminded me of reminders I need to pass along to members.

Sound the Alarm!

This summer, we had several calls in which members asked for funding to pay lawyers to resolve legal matters that had absolutely no element of, nor connection to, using force in self defense. When a call starts with the words “I have a legal problem,” we reflexively go to DEFCON 1, owing to our great concern that no Network family member should face the legal system alone after defending himself or herself.

When paying legal expenses from the Legal Defense Fund we also have to exercise caution to stay within the reasons for the Fund’s existence. Our Legal Defense Fund exists to pay the costs of the legal defense of use of force in self defense on behalf of members. As responsible stewards of the Fund, we must not fritter it away on gun-law violations, fall out from negligent or unsafe actions with guns, or other crimes that cascade into restrictions on gun possession.

Still, we get “Help me!” phone calls from members and non-members alike. Some call immediately after a Bad Occurrence; others reach out when served with summons to show up at court to explain their actions. Over the years, when called on to assist with problems clearly not related to an act of self defense, the underlying situations have ranged from accidental discharges, car accidents, missing, stolen or left-behind guns, trespassing, revocation of concealed carry licenses after being cited for driving while intoxicated, and lesser issues that still, if left unresolved, can result in loss of gun rights. Members, we will help you if we are able, but please remember, our after hours emergency phone and our monetary assistance is for the legal defense of acts of self defense only. For example, if you have an accidental discharge, we won’t be able to pay a lawyer to negotiate with your neighbor about the damage done.

Less Pressing Matters from the List of Things We Can’t Do

Every now and again, we’re asked to extend the household member discount for a member’s adult offspring who live independently, in their own homes, far distant from our member. In one charming conversation, a gentlemen explained that Southerners consider their adult children – no matter how aged or how far they’ve move away from home – to still be part of their households. It was a sweet sentiment, but I had to explain that the intent of our household discount was to recognize people living under the same roof, and sharing a single USB thumb drive with our member education videos and the book “Deadly Force” by Massad Ayoob which we include in our new member packages. The cost of our educational package has quadrupled since the early days when we opened the Network and started distributing video lectures, at that time on DVD discs that cost 75 cents each to replicate. Those were the days!

Sometimes new members question the price difference between new memberships and the discount we offer our loyal renewing members. The cost to provide and mail a member education set to new members is a big part of the higher cost. Explaining that occasionally spotlights a potential member who doesn’t care to educate himself or herself and is interested in the Network only as a resource to pay legal expenses after gun use. That is what investigators call “A Clue!” After we talk about the importance of education for armed citizens, if the applicant remains disinterested, we decline their membership application. What? Turning down business? Yes, because we know that the educational videos and book are essential to members understanding use of force, when it is lawful and when it is not and when it can be avoided.

Surviving in the Age of Inflation

Now that the 2023 dues rate has been in effect a full four months, we continue to hear from a few Network members who find they’re unable to afford the $10 per year increase implemented in May. That is always sad. We avoided a rate increase for as long as we could – the last time dues went up was 2015! Even so, since the increase, we’ve talked and corresponded with members who were displeased that dues were higher than years past. We covered the reasons in March’s journal, and since there’s been no relief on the inflation front, there’s no reason to rehash it.

Since I don’t think any of us are seeing much relief at the gas pump, the grocery store, or when the rent comes due, I remind members that I’ll send you a $10 off renewal coupon if a new member names you as the person who encouraged them to join the Network. We want to meet your friends, family and associates, so please introduce them to us, and take advantage of this way to save a little on your next Network renewal. You’ll also be doing a solid favor for someone who needs to be part of our organization, as well as increasing the Network’s strength and capabilities.

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