FCLD

I just read that our state’s former attorney general (and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate) has launched an interesting new business.  Instead of moving on to the lucrative pastures known as “consulting” (as so many former politicians do), he has formed a company called “Virginia Self Defense Law” (their website is HERE), which for a fee of $135-150/year provides prepaid legal services to anyone who later is named as a defendant in a criminal or civil proceeding arising out of the use of a firearm.

That seems a bit weird to me. I have to wonder why anyone would think something like that to be so likely that they’d prepay for a lawyer to defend them.  I suppose it would be a good bargain for anyone who is planning to do something that will likely make them a defendant. If anyone buys this and does end up getting sued or prosecuted for an offense arising out of the use of a firearm, I expect the prosecutor/plaintiff’s counsel would have a field day with that fact.

Having said that, we farmers have something similar, but more sensible.  We’re members of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. As members, in addition to supporting advocacy for food freedom we are able to consult with an FCLD staff attorney for advice on matters related to government regulation of direct sales of farm-produced food, and to obtain potential representation in the event the farm becomes the subject of some USDA action (as often happens with farms selling raw milk).

FCLD membership makes sense to me.  Prepaid defense for being prosecuted for crimes involving the use of a gun?  Not so much.

 

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10 comments on “FCLD

  1. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I’m amazed that there’s such a upheaval about guns in our culture. After 250 years of gun ownership, now the powers to be decide it’s not a good idea? Yes, the frontier wild west days are over. Guns are a part of the Nebraska farm culture. Every farmer has at least a couple. In fact many carry a gun on a rack right behind the seat in their farm pickup truck. Coyotes are a problem with live stock at times. Foxes love chicken. There are times when domesticated dogs will go feral and run in packs. Guns have always been a part of this country’s heritage. Open carry is still allowed in Nebraska but hardly anyone does that. I have to wonder if the prepaid council covers premeditated crimes. It seems that today big government is on a mission to remove guns from the ordinary citizen. Criminals always seem to be able to get guns from some where. I personally don’t have much to do with guns. I do have one but it was inherited from my Dad and hasn’t been used in over 20 years so I’m not sure if it even works. Well, there you have it. That’s my tirade about guns. I’ve been around them all my life but never really had to use one for protection of personal harm or property harm from animals.

    Have a FCLD day.

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    • Bill says:

      A friend told me recently that there is a government plot to disarm the citizens. If there really is a government scheme to get rid of guns, then it’s been a miserable failure–around here at least.

      I got my first gun when I was about 12 (maybe younger, I can’t recall). It was a .12 gauge shotgun my parents gave me and it kicked the snot of me whenever I fired it. We always had some guns, but they were sensible. If you go into a gun store these days, on the other hand, you’ll probably be shocked. They have AR-15s, AK-47s, M1As, and handguns with high capacity magazines. It’s like a military surplus store. Try finding a single shot .12 gauge or a bolt-action .22, like the one I gave my son as his first gun. We had a coyote problem here a couple of years ago so I went to a sporting goods store to get a varmint rifle. They had plenty of .223s, but they were all tricked out like commando weapons. It was utterly ridiculous.

      Almost every time I hear someone complaining about the potential loss of their gun rights, it’s the ability to buy guns like this that they’re talking about.

      As far as I’m concerned folks should be able to buy whatever kind of gun they want, but I do worry about a society in which there is such demand for military-style weapons designed to shoot other people (not game) and in which a person would actually go so far as to prepay for the lawyer who will defend them when they commit a crime with a gun. That seems a little over-the-top to me.

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      • nebraskadave says:

        Bill, sheesh, I didn’t know that tricked out guns were in such demand. That is just a bit over the top but then again I was never much for male bling. You can tell I haven’t been in a gun shop …. ever. I’m really seriously considering a crossbow. It just seems more practical to me than buying all that ammo. That’s just me.

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  2. Jeff says:

    I think the guy is pretty smart – seems like every man in Virginia has one or more handguns and lots of them like to go out with their guns strapped to their hips so they can show everyone how manly they are. I’m sure he’ll make a bundle. I’ll bet that $150/year fee doesn’t cover all of of the “prepaid legal services”, either – do any of the purchasers read the fine print? Can they read the fine print? Can they read at all? If he’s in the insurance business, which he is, then he’s got some fine print in there somewhere that severely limits his potential losses. You can be sure of that. Or else he’s not so smart, after all.

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    • Bill says:

      He may sell a lot of these contracts, but I can’t see how anyone could reasonably believe it makes sense to prepay a lawyer to defend them after they shoot somebody. My guess is that some folks think 1) shootings in self-defense are far more common than they actually are and 2) being prosecuted or sued for shooting someone is self-defense is far more common than it actually is. The retainer agreement isn’t online (the site says that’s because it’s proprietary), so I don’t know what the fine print says. But if a few thousand people send them $150/year I expect they’ll make a lot of money.

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      • Jeff says:

        Reasonably believe? You think 2nd Amendment fanatics “reasonably believe”? Please …. I’ve long thought that 2nd Amendment fanatics have such a twisted view of reality that they think that, when push comes to shove, they’ll be able to use their little pop-guns to stop the government in its tracks. They’re powerless and know it, on some level, but they think that if they have their guns, they will have some control over their lives. They don’t – that’s why they live in their fantasy world. Now, if they were reasonable, they’d become engaged in the governmental processes necessary for civilized life and they wouldn’t have to fear government plots to take away their guns. But conspiracy theories are much more satisfying than actually participating in society. If the shadowy “They” are responsible for the mess we’re in, then that excuses the fanatics’ irresponsibility and irrationality, right?

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  3. Steve says:

    Look, if a government wanted to mess with the citizenry, guns wouldn’t even figure into the equation. They’d stop the flow of gasoline, electricity and telecommunications. Then somebody would flip a switch and all the electronic records of wealth would vanish. Boink! Guns as a means of balancing government oppression is an obsolete concept. Education, literacy and fair elections, however, remain the most powerful weapons to defend freedom, and they’re each fading before our very eyes without barely a wimper.

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    • Bill says:

      I’ve never understood the appeal of conspiracy theories, especially when the conspirator is “the government.” The government is nothing but a collection of people. And most of the supposed government conspiracies would require that “the government” be far more competent than its normal everyday functioning would suggest it’s capable of.

      But I don’t think the “Self Defense” law firm is about the prospect of government taking away folks’ guns so much as it is about some fear that they’ll shoot someone, get sued or prosecuted, and not be able to afford a lawyer. Seems pretty far-fetched to me.

      I agree that there are far more pressing threats to liberty than the possibility (which I regard as a virtual impossibility) that the government is going to take away our guns.

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  4. avwalters says:

    It’s the argument in favor of insurance, but cognizant that it will not apply where conduct is intentional. You’re armed with…. delicious vegetables! Not so much of a hazard. VSDL sounds like another opportunity to fleece the well-armed but stupid.
    (For the non-lawyers, public policy prevents insurance from picking up the tab where your conduct is intentional. So, you cannot pay for this coverage and then use it for any crime which you intended to commit. The coverage would only be good for gun related accidents.)

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    • Bill says:

      On the website they emphasize that what they’re selling is not insurance, but only prepaid legal representation. I assume therefore that the fact of purchase would be admissible evidence. I don’t know if it’s against public policy to have a criminal defense attorney on retainer (or an attorney to defend an intentional tort claim). According to their website they provide prepaid legal services (not coverage for any fine or civil judgment) to anyone later named as a defendant in a criminal or civil proceeding arising out of a “self defense or law enforcement harassment situation arising out of the use of your firearm.” It doesn’t seem to be limited to accidents, but rather to “self defense” and “law enforcement harassment.” Probably it’s designed to be appealing to folks who think they may be the next George Zimmerman.

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