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From our beginnings in January, 2008, the Network has enjoyed the backing of many prominent firearms trainers, including Massad Ayoob, John Farnam, Tom Givens and Dennis Tueller, who graciously accepted positions on our first Board of Advisors before the Network even had a proven track record.

Why were those first board members training luminaries, not lawyers? The impetus for preparing private armed citizens to cope with the legal aftermath of a self-defense incident has never come from the legal community–it has come from instructors training armed citizens in self-defense shooting skills. Massad Ayoob, in particular, has made understanding interactions with the criminal justice system a cornerstone of his training curriculum, teaching that it is entirely possible to successfully defend against criminal attack, but fail to manage events afterwards and wind up in prison. In establishing the Network, we drew heavily upon Ayoob’s teachings, and then developed the membership benefits as a solution to the considerable expense of skilled attorneys and experts to assist in defending self defense.

Still, as the Network flourished, the need to expand the Advisory Board’s scope of experience to include stronger representation from the legal sector was apparent, and we were fortunate in November of 2010 to add to the board Jim Fleming, who was already serving as a Network Affiliated Attorney, and was at the time poised to become the Network’s Director of Curriculum for our Continuing Legal Education initiative.

Last month, the opportunity arose to further enhance the legal expertise on the Network’s Advisory Board, when attorney, defensive firearms instructor and expert witness Emanuel Kapelsohn agreed to serve. This is a powerful addition, because Kapelsohn’s career in the law has focused on firearms and use of force issues, from both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s viewpoints. His input will be invaluable when, as it surely will in the future, the Advisory Board is asked to weigh the legality and justifiability of actions a member undertakes in self defense.

Manny Glock
Above: Emanuel Kapelsohn, the Network's newest Advisory Board member.

The Advisory Board is charged with finding the balance between providing services for Network members and guaranteeing that the Network does not squander funds trying to defend use of force that is not justifiably undertaken in self defense. Not only must the Advisory Board identify and recommend ways to provide for a member’s post incident needs, they will also evaluate incident reports so they can assure the Network, its membership, contributors and the public that Legal Defense Fund monies are being used only to defend justifiable self defense. In the rare instance that someone vilifies the Network and its mission, it is generally to charge that our goal is to get people who commit murder off scot-free. While nothing could be further from the truth, that line of attack underscores why this duty of the Network Advisory Board is so very, very important.