On Wednesday evening, Guns Save Life, the Illinois grassroots gun rights group, launched its seventh monthly meeting location in Decatur, IL. Nearly 150 people turned out to experience first-person gun rights activism. And GSL didn’t disappoint.
Even before the meeting started, attendees enjoyed hearing from a Guns Save Life member Senator Chapin Rose. He now serves as the Senate Assistant Republican Leader in the General Assembly.
Long ago, when he worked as a prosecutor in Champaign County, he learned first-hand how Illinois gun laws keep good people disarmed when they need a gun. One day, while working in the yard, a man approached Chapin and asked if he lived there. Chapin, looking closer, realized he had put this guy in prison sometime earlier. “No, I don’t. And I don’t live here either,” he says he told the guy.
Two weeks later, someone tried to break into their home when his wife was home by herself. And then he had to wait weeks, like everyone else, for the State of Illinois to process his Firearms Owners ID card application. “And I really wanted to get a gun the next day!” he told us.
Also before the meeting, a whole lot of people young and old sought a chance to have their picture taken with a Browning M1919 .30-06. Yes, a genuine piece of history.
GSL’s Decatur Regional Director Dave Randolph opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. Following the Pledge, we took a moment of silence for the two Illinois State Troopers who died in the line of duty in recent days. Then we recognized our veterans present.
Guns Save Life’s Executive Director John Boch gave his update. We talked about Guns Save Life’s successful lawsuit blocking enforcement of the Village of Deerfield, IL’s gun and magazine ban. Boch also covered other court cases, including the invalidation of Illinois law against carrying stun guns and that decisions implications for possible future gun bans.
Guns Save Life’s motto is “We defend your right to defend yourself” and the group did just that in providing not one, but two expert witnesses for a recent trial in Champaign, IL. A man who served his nation for 16 years in the Marine Corps faced charges for shooting a woman who threatened to kill him. Originally, he asked some people out front of his place to hold the noise down and things devolved. One woman said she was going to get her gun out of the car and settle it right then and there.
The defendant, unable to return quickly to the house as he walks with a cane, accessed his firearm. The woman rooted around inside her car, then came out with her hand behind her back. Following a warning shot, she kept coming while making threats. So he shot her to stop her advance.
Guns Save Life looked at his recounting of the events along with physical evidence and believed it a righteous shoot. So we offered two GSL Defense Training team instructors as expert witnesses. Both testified and after a few hours’ deliberation, the jury came back with not guilty verdicts.
Main Speaker Steve Davis, a just-retired attorney and firearms instructor, educated attendees on ten mistakes gun owners make that can land them in jail. Among those: firing warning shots, altering evidence, failing to retreat where possible and not calling the authorities after an encounter (even if shots aren’t fired).
Davis also cautioned against not participating in evidence collection (by saying, “I want to talk to my attorney” and nothing else to responding and investigating officers), failure to have non-lethal alternatives and not knowing the law. Any of these can lead to difficulties with prosecutors – and potentially jurors in the aftermath of a defensive gun use.
While few defensive gun uses stand out as “perfect,” eliminating common mistakes will help ensure that good guys don’t face trial. And if prosecutors demand a trial, making as few mistakes as possible will help secure an acquittal from a judge or jury.
Our Tech Time speaker Eli Slaminko shared his story of how he found and restored an old Browning machine gun – in semi-auto, much to the delight of the audience. He says he also rehabbed what he believes is a historically correct tripod for it as well.
Originally manufactured in early World War II, the business end says to bad guys “Get off my lawn!” in a universally-understood language.
Marisa Mueller from the US Concealed Carry Association talked up the USCCA’s Self-Defense Shield, part of their comprehensive coverage plan for members.
Clearly, as GSL members have seen in recent cases in Central Illinois, even when good guys try do do everything right in self-defense, they can still face charges – and even trials. And those cost big bucks.
USCCA, Mueller says, offers criminal and civil legal representation, civil damages coverage, bail money, wage protections as well as coverage for firearm theft-related liability issues. They have a bunch of other benefits including discounts with partner companies, educational materials and training, and much more. In event of a deadly force incident, their Self-Defense Shield puts an attorney by your side within 24 hours of your call – or a call on your behalf.
Family members using deadly force in self-defense at home are also covered by USCCA plans as well, so if a member’s 14-year-old daughter blows a canoe in some drug-addled, knife-wielding intruder’s head, USCCA will bring their full resources to bear on her behalf as well.
You can use your own attorney, or the USCCA has a network of lawyers across America. And if they can’t reach your preferred attorney, they will send one of their network people to start your defense.
Additionally, their coverage is on a “per incident” basis, not annual or lifetime benefits. Volunteering as part of your church’s “safety team”? USCCA covers any defensive gun uses there as well.
Check out their website, USConcealedCarry.com for more information. Contact their group sales people to sign up and save 15% as a Guns Save Life member. Not a GSL member? Sign up then call them, or mention us as a non-member and we’ll get a kickback (but you’ll have to pay full fare).
At the end of the night, we drew for the 50/50 drawing and one lucky gent took home about $200.
Guns Save Life always has a gun drawing at our monthly meetings. On this night, Decatur resident Bob Taft won one of America’s favorite rifles.
In the end, we had a great night and brought a whole grassroots gun rights activism to another region of Illinois.
Does your state have similar grassroots gun rights meetings like these? If not, why not?