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Lessons in Preparation
An Interview with Erick Gelhaus
Interview by Gila Hayes
In 2013, an on-duty shooting by a California sheriff’s deputy was sensationalized by news and social media to the extent that protestors blocked traffic on highways and a multi-year investigation and civil rights lawsuit against the deputy ensued. The same incident was simultaneously the subject of intense concern of another nature amongst armed citizens who participated on Internet forums. While armed citizens often follow police shooting cases, this case had a higher level of investment for most because Erick Gelhaus, the deputy involved, moderated and posted to firearms boards, wrote for gun magazines, taught at Gunsite and was respected for over two decades of law enforcement and military service.
While Erick Gelhaus’ story is compelling on its own, it contains lessons critical to armed citizens. Now that the civil case is settled, several federal agencies closed investigations, clearing him of wrongdoing and he has retired, he is free to discuss those lessons. We switch now to Q&A format to learn from Erick Gelhaus in his own words.
eJournal: Erick, I appreciate your willingness to talk with us and draw out lessons from what happened to you. Since your story evolves out of a police duty shooting that took place some years ago, our readers may not be familiar with the facts. Could we start with a briefing about what happened?
Insurance Commissioner Fight Update
by Marty Hayes, J.D
Several members have asked what is going on with our legal battle with the Washington State Insurance Commissioner (OIC). For new members not familiar with this fight, for well over a year, we have been countering arguments from the OIC that the Network’s assistance to members constitutes insurance and that we are subject to that agency’s regulation. Because the Network has never had an insurance component, we have, of course, argued vigorously that their charges were groundless. Undeterred, in the spring the OIC imposed a cease and desist order prohibiting enrollment of Washingtonian (this only affects Washington State), although renewals of existing members are allowed. That, in a nutshell, is the situation.
For a couple of months at least, we have been in a sensitive phase of the battle, and while it is not over as of this writing–and we do not expect it to be over any time soon–I figured it was time to update everyone. (Including of course, anyone reading this from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner!)
Attorney Question of the Month
The source of this month’s discussion with our Network Affiliated Attorneys is Network members expressing concern about their best course of action if, despite their best efforts to avoid violence-ridden areas, they are caught in traffic during a riot and threatened while in their car. To help our members strategize and act in legally defensible ways, we greatly appreciated our Affiliated Attorneys’ comments on these questions–
What legal repercussions would result if an innocent motorist, threatened by a mob they see harming motorists pulled from cars or threatened directly by a violent attempt to break into their car while they are inside, drives deliberately through the area with flashers and horn active but hits and injures a person as they attempt to drive to safety?
How does the motorist’s responsibility change if the person hit is actively involved in the rioting or if it is another innocent person also attempting to get out of the danger area?
Does the motorist’s responsibility change if they hit a protestor blocking an onramp, offramp or city street who is not immediately threatening violence against them or other drivers? What, if any, role does fear of being blocked in and later harmed contribute to justifying a motorist endangering the lives of pedestrians blocking roads or freeway ramps during violent protests?
By Dan Crenshaw
Released April 4, 2020
Grand Central Publishing
Paperback: 256 pages $29 Hardcover; $13.99 eBook
Reviewed by Gila Hayes
Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw, like many in political life, raises hackles on both sides of the political spectrum with his public statements reflected, inevitably, through the echoes of his comments as filtered by news reporters and social media. All that chatter moved me to read Crenshaw’s book, Fortitude.
News from our Affiliates
Attorney Affiliation Campaign
by Josh Amos, Network Affiliates Manager
This year has been full of challenges! When Covid-19 began its disruptive influence on all of us, we decided it was a good time to undertake our annual affiliated attorney check in campaign because I wasn’t able to come to the office to do my normal work. The first step we took was to reach out to each of the Network’s existing affiliated attorneys. We appreciate each attorney who expressed his or her desire to remain affiliated with the Network and took the time to respond to our phone calls, emails and letters. Their participation gives us continued confidence in our attorney affiliation program and provides a great base for us to build on as we expand this resource.
I miss hunting. There was a time when work was less pressing and it was entirely practical to announce that I’d be out of touch for the morning, sitting in the woods or up a tree with a rifle across my knees. Oh, the abdication of certain morning duties wasn’t always met with cheer and approbation, but there was a certain acceptance that hunting season was the one time of year that it was OK to go missing for half a day because, well, hunting season only comes around once a year, and no one in my house criticizes hunting.
It is likely an understatement that not all Network members are in favor of going out into nature and killing an animal to eat. After all, it has been many a decade since most Americans had to harvest wild game to avoid starvation. Today, more than preventing starvation, hunting accomplishes game management and allows humans to participate in the cycle of life with awareness. You see, we need to acknowledge the brutal fact that nature isn’t a Disney movie script. Life’s realities are more in line with Lord Alfred Tennyson’s word picture, “nature, red in tooth and claw.”
About this Journal
The eJournal of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc. is published monthly on the Network’s website at http://armedcitizensnetwork.org/our-journal. Content is copyrighted by the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc.
Do not mistake information presented in this online publication for legal advice; it is not. The Network strives to assure that information published in this journal is both accurate and useful. Reader, it is your responsibility to consult your own attorney to receive professional assurance that this information and your interpretation or understanding of it is accurate, complete and appropriate with respect to your particular situation.
In addition, material presented in our opinion columns is entirely the opinion of the bylined author, and is intended to provoke thought and discussion among readers.