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Editor’s Notebook

Smarter Than Average

by Gila Hayes

Are Network members smarter than average? I’ve always believed our members represented the cream of armed citizenry, primarily because most have voluntarily attended firearms and self defense tactics training that far exceeds the efforts of the average gun owner. I believe I can support this contention, because from the Network’s earliest days, we have “met” many of our members through a network of firearms and self-defense tactics instructors.

Being “smarter than average” means making your own decisions and drawing your own conclusions, a trait that is growing ever more rare in today’s dependent society. We in the leadership positions at the Network cannot do members’ thinking for them. Our primary and most important effort is building up and maintaining the Legal Defense Fund to assure that no member goes without legal representation after being involved in a self-defense incident.

Our secondary purpose, as you know, is educating members through our DVD lectures by leaders in self defense and aftermath management. Members who may draw on the Legal Defense Fund absolutely must understand their responsibilities in possessing and using the power of deadly force in self defense, must know how to manage the aftermath of a self-defense incident, and must be able to articulate principles that allow use of force in self defense under various circumstances. These circumstances include multiple assailants, unarmed but more capable assailants, an assailant who has not displayed a gun, and more, and our DVD lecture series addresses these principles. Members must understand these principles because while no one should submit to police interrogation without an attorney present, it may be necessary to very briefly explain to the first officers on the scene that you were violently attacked. In this initial statement, the key word is briefly.

And this is where you have to be smarter than average. You have to be smarter than your biology and psychology, and that requires advance training and practice in controlling your emotions and stating only the bare facts about the attack.

Before the emails and phone calls start, I acknowledge that this aspect of the Network’s philosophy troubles the attorneys.

To the attorneys who favor advice to say absolutely nothing without an attorney present, I have to ask, “Can you make it to the armed citizen’s side before emergency services and police?” Of course not. Someone is going to have to say something, and sometimes the armed defender is the only one who CAN speak.

Should the armed citizen not say a thing until an attorney can provide counsel? To some degree the scene of the attack against the armed citizen tells a story, but what about a weapon hidden by the assailant to support his loudly proclaimed version of events? What about the common prejudice that the person with the gun is responsible for what happened, when indeed, the armed citizen was only reacting to a violent attack launched against them? Is it better to let these misrepresentations of the truth solidify into presumed fact in the time it takes an attorney to reach the armed citizen?

Attorneys who understand the affirmative defense of self defense are not very common. I compare them to medical specialists among the health care profession. Most communities have a number of physicians providing medical care, but not specialty care like oncology, for example. Likewise, is it not surprising that the armed citizen may need to be able to provide their own first aid (brief interaction with responding officers), understand that a local attorney can likely see them through initial interrogation and being bailed out, and if a protracted court case ensues, specialists with experience defending self defense will be brought in to work alongside the local attorney to achieve the best outcome.

That sequence of events puts the final responsibility for your well being on your own shoulders. No one else can control what you do and what you say. You must study and practice giving responding officers a brief précis of the facts of a violent attack against you. You must understand what to expect from the criminal justice system. You must grasp that the detective who acts sympathetic may only be leading your statement in the direction closest to their preconceived notions. Terse and truthful responses are your path to freedom.