Column: Deadly force insurance for gun owners

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Published: Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 11:37 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 11:37 a.m.

I’ll admit I was very skeptical when I first heard about a Texas-based firm that uslawoffers insurance policies for gun owners in the event they use deadly force.

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.

If we don’t run into each other at the range, you can reach me at (941) 361-4975, by email at lee.williams@heraldtribune.com or by regular mail, 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can also follow me on social media at www.facebook.com/ TheGunWriter or www.Twitter.com/

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Column: Deadly force insurance for gun owners - The Gun Feed

  2. As you say Lee it’s hard too understand how far one would be backed up with out a written policy in front of you. Also some input from the other side would help. It probably will not all be rainbow’s and unicorns when you step into the courtroom but I think it’s one hell of a good start, it may even slow some judges from indiscriminately handing out no knock warrents.

  3. This kind of insurance is useless for protecting victims. We need to require insurance that really protects them.

  4. Tom, if someone breaks into my home, threatens me and my family, and I’m forced to resort to deadly force, I really don’t care about protecting them. While that may sound cold, it’s reality.

  5. My wife works in the insurance industry and she has a 2 million dollar umbrella policy that costs us about $250 a year riding on our homeowners policy takes care of that.

  6. Steve Peterson on

    I’m not sure which states it covers, but locked on-affinity also extends self defense coverage. I believe it runs around $160 a year. You might have to be an NRA member though. More info can be found on the nra.org website if it’s of interest to anyone.

  7. I have coverage through USCCA that provides over a million $ in protection should I have to use my weapon in any state. It also provides for bond money and legal retainers. I hope to never need it, but it’s nice to have the protection.
    Oh and @Tom Harvey… If I feel the need to protect my family with deadly force, the person on the other end of my weapon is far from a victim, he/she is a criminal that needs no compassion or compensation.

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