by Gila Hayes
I missed you at the NRA Annual Meeting! I suppose a few people might even have missed, me, too, because the whole event was cancelled a month before it was due to occur. Who knows whether the COVID-19 virus might have been contained before April 16-19–or how extensively it might have spread by then? Cancelling the event was only sensible. I’m just sorry I didn’t get to personally greet the many new and faithful long-time members we usually chat with at the Annual Meeting.
One high point of exhibiting at the NRA meeting is visiting with long time Network members who come to our booth at the convention and bring along a friend or family member. They introduce their loved one to us, and then often buy them the gift of Network membership. That would have been particularly useful this spring. Jurisdictions, concerned about infection inside their penal institutions, have released prisoners, and subsequently, there has been a run on gun shops by people who’ve never owned guns before. Just Thursday, a member in WI emailed to ask for more copies of our Foundation’s booklet What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law (see https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/educational-foundation) because all the first-time gun buyers had cleaned out the store’s supply of booklets. “They’re just flying off the shelf,” our member wrote.
Do you have a family member or a friend who you love like a brother, sister, son or daughter who just became an armed citizen? A great way to get him or her off to a good start is the gift of membership in Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. Call us at 360-978-5200 to order or sign your new armed citizen up for the Network at https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/join/purchase-membership.
A few members have reached out to ask how we at the Network are doing, and to offer their prayers and best wishes for our continued health. It brings a tear to my eye every time that happens! It was especially poignant last Thursday when during my first day running the office alone, several members emailed to inquire after our well-being, and several others sent me articles about health and cleaning practices to avoid falling victim to the virus.
Our state is enforcing Stay Home orders for all but essential workers. I am hearing from members and affiliates that other states are doing the same, with various governmental decisions on which types of employees are “essential.”
In WA, a list of essential workers–on which our staff was conspicuously absent–was announced the evening of Monday, March 23rd. The restrictions went into effect at midnight Wednesday, March 25, so we had a couple of days to pack up our offices, scrounge up extra equipment and get ready to start working at home. We already have two team members regularly telecommuting, so we had a pretty good idea of what we needed to do.
Below: Josh-ing around made the final minutes as we left work carrying our monitors, keyboards and computers to work at home a little lighter. [L-R] Will, Josh and Belle.
Work was re-assigned, and we have continued our mission of serving members. From the outside, I doubt much of a difference has been noticeable. We have an amazing Network Membership Services team and everyone pitched in 110% and then asked what else they could do. Josh even brought in pizzas for lunch our last day so we could have a little social time before continuing to unplug computers, monitors, printers and dumping all our working files into boxes. These good folks bore all the disruption in genuine good spirits.
In the days that have followed, each has proven their mettle, taking care of members and keeping the new and renewal memberships going out. We have been most negatively impacted by the difficulty of juggling phone calls. We are a membership services team that takes pride in taking time to answer questions from members and prospective members.
Now, working from home, not all members have ready company phone access and currently, all our calls are being forwarded to a single line. We ask your patience if you call and get our voice mail. I hope you will take a moment to leave your name and phone number so we can call back if you catch us on the line with another caller. We promise to return phone calls the same business day received–weekends, as always, get return calls first thing Monday morning.
That takes care of ordinary concerns and routine business. Network members facing a self-defense legal emergency should call the emergency phone number printed on the back of their Network membership card. The emergency number is also accessible to members by logging in to http://armedcitizensnetwork.org and clicking the link for Accessing Post-Incident Assistance on the right side menu. Don’t forget to share that access with a family member or trusted other who may need to access that number on your behalf if you are detained after a self-defense incident.
Every single member of the Network membership services team comes to his or her position having previously surmounted more difficult situations than our current Stay Home restrictions. Their coolness under fire really shows! Here’s a big thank you to each of our excellent team members and an equal expression of gratitude for all of our Network family members who are standing with us through this challenge.
To read more of this month's journal, please click here.