Those of us who are avid defenders of the 2nd Amendment are also usually concerned with defense of our persons, family and innocent bystanders when bad people decide to do bad things. Right after you successfully use a firearm in self defense, you have a couple of other defense situations coming your way.
You’re wrong until proven right.
In most states, even if the police responding and witnesses all clearly believe that your actions were necessary to avoid death or injury inflicted by one or more attackers, you’ll probably still be detained and maybe officially put before a grand jury to decide if you should be tried in court.
Hopefully, the grand jury will hear the evidence and not return an indictment. Even if this is the case, you’ve already hit several thousand dollars in legal defense costs. There are many true stories out there of innocent people taking a guilty plea because they did not have the resources to properly mount a defense. In taking that plea, they permanently lose their right to own firearms in the future, and still many get some jail time.
Civil follows criminal in many cases.
If you follow the news about self defense shooting incidents, even those where the police deem that it was justified and no arrest is made, there is a relative out there ready to sue you. In this country, anyone can sue for almost anything, and lawyers are out there ready to take a case like this on contingency. So, expect some civil legal action right behind the resolution of the criminal case.
Of course, this brings a whole new round of litigation, and a whole new stack of attorney bills. Even if the criminal side resolved totally in your favor, and even if the judge congratulates you on defending your family from a drug-crazed attacker, there’s that attacker’s mother, or uncle, or aunt, or brother, or all of them ready to punish you for taking their loved one away from them. The judge or jury will hear all about the wonderful person who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was suffering from temporary mental problems. And, they’ll hear how you callously shot them dead when you could have just run away or taken other action.
You’ll be subject to scrutiny of the weapon type, caliber and the type of ammunition you were carrying. There will be accusations of using “killer” ammo with hollow point bullets or higher power rounds than standard ammunition. Of course, there are very valid reasons for using hollow point ammunition, especially in stopping bullets from going completely through the bad guy and hitting an innocent bystander. But, who is going to convince the judge or jury that this is the case? Who is your expert and how much will they cost?
Homeowner’s insurance rarely helps.
While some homeowner blanket liability or extra coverage policies may help in some respects when you defend yourself in your own home, they almost never help when you use your firearm elsewhere. By all means, investigate different homeowner policies and purchase whatever coverage you believe is of value to you in relation to the cost. However, if you want an attorney and any necessary expert testimony to navigate the after-shooting legal minefield, you’ll want specialty self defense coverage.
All of these policies aren’t the same.
After investigation of five or six specialty firearm self defense policies or organization coverage offerings for members, one very important differentiating factor popped up. Some cover criminal but not civil, or there is a very reduced coverage level for civil actions and attorney fees. If you are concerned enough to pay for coverage of this type, then you should be concerned about covering only half your risk. So, determine that you’re getting both, and not by buying multiple policies.
Like other types of insurance, there are different levels of coverage and different maximum claim amounts as well. Selection of coverage is a moving target because laws are changing and insurers are adapting. However, in general there has been an increase in choice and in coverage available in the past few years. Since almost any criminal or civil action can result in a six figure attorney bill in a hurry, you’ll want to maintain adequate coverage to cover both.
Do your due diligence and compare for coverage and cost.
Here are links and brief descriptions of organizations and companies offering firearm self defense coverage. Some are to pages with coverage limits and maybe even comparisons to competitors. Do your due diligence, as you’ll likely spend between $125 and $400 per year to gain a reasonable comfort level.
- National Rifle Association coverage through Lockton Risk: Coverage for both criminal and civil actions with varying coverage limits.
- Patriot Legal Protection: Criminal and civil coverage, including lost wages and immediate attorney retainer.
- Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, Inc: This organization provides members with benefits that include some attorney fees and expert testimony as needed from board members, including Massad Ayoob, John Farnam, Jim Fleming, Tom Givens, Emanuel Kapelsohn, and Dennis Tueller.
There are others, and you should investigate carefully. Call them up and ask questions, as this is critical to your freedom if you ever defend yourself with a firearm. Don’t save your life or the lives of your loved ones only to end up behind bars or bankrupt over attorney fees.