Published: Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 11:37 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 11:37 a.m.
The U.S. Law Shield says that if you’re covered by their policy and “use” a firearm, their attorneys “will represent you in any legal proceeding (criminal or civil), for zero attorneys’ fees.”
Their members don’t actually have to pull a trigger to qualify for coverage.
The “use” of a firearm also includes pointing or displaying a weapon at an assailant to stop a threat.
Right now, the program is only available in Florida, Colorado, Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Texas.
So far, more than 102,000 gun owners have signed up.
The basic policy costs around $11 per month and covers you only in your home state, but a member can add their spouse to the policy or obtain multi-state coverage for additional fees.
The firm also has programs available for law enforcement officers and Title II/NFA firearms owners.
Of course, there are conditions and stipulations. According to their website, the firm does not pay for “appeals, expert witness fees, governmental fees of any type, investigator fees, or bail bonds.” Neither are accidents or negligent discharges covered, or arrests stemming from carrying a gun into a prohibited place.
While I’d love to see their actuarial tables — since writing policies for gun owners on the chance they may shoot someone seems about as profitable as insuring Icelanders against ostrich attacks — for those who carry a defensive firearm, there is certainly a legitimate need for some sort of legal protection plan.
Any criminal attorney capable of providing a worthwhile defense against murder or manslaughter charges is likely to want tens of thousands of dollars in cash, in advance, before they are likely to take the case.
The same is true for wrongful-death civil suits, which can drag on for years.
On Monday, I spoke to U.S. Law Shield’s president Kirk Evans, a Houston-based trial lawyer. Evans said U.S. Law Shield was created in Texas six years ago by three attorneys, all “staunch gun guys.”
“They kept running into gun cases where folks, who were completely justified using a gun in self-defense, were still put through the ringer with grand juries and criminal charges,” Evans said.
U.S. Law Shield has defended hundreds of members from civil suits and criminal charges since it was founded, Evans said.
The firm’s attorneys take turns manning the “hotline phone,” a number that any member can call with questions or to report an incident. “It rings every day, but obviously all calls don’t result in criminal charges or civil suits,” he said. “While you can’t win every case, we do have what we think is a very good success rate.”
Orlando criminal defense attorney James Phillips, a former veteran prosecutor, has been affiliated with U.S. Law Shield for just over two years. “We’ve only had one case that’s gone so far as to have someone arrested and charged with a crime,” he said. “It was resolved a week ago.”
Some of U.S. Law Shield’s competitors only cover a member if the shooting occurs in their home. Others cap their fees at ridiculously low amounts. “We believe our product is superior to all of those,” Evans said.
I just signed up for a year’s worth of coverage.
At $11 per month it was an easy decision, but this should not be seen as an endorsement of the program, since I — thank God — have not had to use their services.
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