Employee Spotlight: Jonathan Rowley

Jonathan Rowley, Veteran, Active Military Duty

Here at U.S. LawShield, we care about the communities we serve because we are your neighbors, your friends, and your family members. Take a look behind the scenes and meet Jonathan Rowley, Lead Web Developer and First Aid for GunShot Wounds Certification Program Instructor at U.S. LawShield.

Before beginning his career with us, Jonathan found a passion for problem-solving and troubleshooting from over 10 years of experience in medical rescue. Since then, he has shifted his career and focus to his computer skills and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Cybersecurity.

Jonathan first joined the U.S. LawShield family in March 2016 as Lead Web Developer, with over 10 years of applied experience in the industry. As U.S. LawShield has grown within the states and continues to offer even greater service to its members, Jonathan maintains all current systems within the company as a Subject Matter Expert; contributing feedback and working alongside the development team to create all new websites and portals.

In addition to working at U.S. LawShield, Jonathan currently serves in the Army National Guard, having first begun his service in 2007, and previously served in the Marine Corps for 4 years. With 15 total years dedicated to this great country, Jonathan plans to retire from active military duty soon but will continue to serve his countrymen as one of the lead instructors in U.S. LawShield’s First Aid for Gunshot Wounds Certification Program.

Jonathan is no stranger to guns. His first gun was a Taurus 911 9mm and his current favorite is his AR-15, as it reminds him of competition shooting in the Marines. As a gun owner and a veteran, he advises all to respect your gun as you respect yourself. If you are in need of self-defense tips, Jonathan recommends getting distance, seeking cover if possible, and shooting straight.

We thank Jonathan for his service and work here at U.S. LawShield, as his problem-solving and first-hand medical expertise refines the U.S. LawShield member experience.

 

Anti-Gunners Have Their Sights on Your Rights

The following is a video transcript.

On November 6th, 2018, voters in all 50 states will go to the polls for the mid-term elections. Every single seat in the House of Representatives and 35 seats in the U.S. Senate are up for grabs. This is a very important election for gun rights. Many people believe that the 2nd Amendment is for the courts to protect. However, every elected official is charged with upholding and protecting all constitutional rights. Your job is to make sure that you elect representatives who share your beliefs in those rights.

For example, there’s currently a bill pending in Congress that will dramatically impact gun rights. This bill is numbered H.R. 5087 and is commonly referred to as the Assault Weapons Ban of 2018. Some of you may remember the Federal Assault Weapons Ban between the years 1994 and 2004. Well, this new version is much worse. Not only does H.R. 5087 ban dozens of firearms specifically by name, including all types of AR and AK platform rifles and pistols, it also creates a catch-all description whereby most commonly owned and possessed semiautomatic rifles and handguns will be considered to be assault weapons.

Basically, if your semiautomatic rifle has a detachable magazine and a pistol grip, or collapsible stock, the two most common features on modern sporting rifles, it will be banned by H.R. 5087. If your semiautomatic handgun has a threaded barrel, or the manufacturer makes a select-fire variant of it, it will be banned by H.R. 5087.

On the state and local level, there are anti-gun laws proposed virtually every year, in every state. You may think that the courts will protect your 2nd Amendment rights from laws like H.R. 5087. However, in the years since the Heller and the McDonald cases, the Supreme Court has refused to review the decisions of the Federal Courts of Appeals that have upheld state and local restrictions on firearms, including bans on assault weapons.

Therefore, the best way to currently protect your 2nd Amendment rights is to keep these laws from being passed at all. You do this by voting for candidates who share your views on the 2nd Amendment.

Finally, it’s important to remember that when you’re going to cast your vote on November 6th, 2018, most states have specific prohibitions against carrying a firearm at a polling place. While we encourage you to do your civic duty and vote, as a responsible gun owner, make sure to follow your state’s laws and if prohibited, leave your firearm at home or in your vehicle.

If you have any questions about H.R. 5087 or prohibited places to carry your firearm, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

Employee Spotlight: Leela Lee

Here at U.S. & Texas LawShield, we care about the communities we serve because we are your neighbors, your friends, and your family members. Take a look behind the scenes and meet Rashida “Leela” Lee, Learning and Development Coordinator at U.S. & Texas LawShield.

Having grown up in Cajun Country Louisiana, Leela is no stranger to hunting and guns. She is very comfortable around firearms and incredibly athletic. She was a professional basketball player in Belgium and she also played in the NWFL as a defensive end.

Leela graduated from the University of New Orleans with her Bachelor’s Degree. She proudly completed her college education with a Master’s in Instructional Design and Global E-Learning at Texas A&M University. She heard about U.S. & Texas LawShield shortly after completing her Master’s, Leela wanted to be part of the LawShield team and started her career at LawShield as a Training Assistant.

Leela’s favorite part of her job is talking with other people all over the nation. She gets to learn about their lives and how U.S. & Texas LawShield has made a positive impact. Leela also takes pride in training her sales team and office staff to respond to each member with exceptional quality. Leela’s coworkers find her charming and endeavor to have the same upbeat and go-getter attitude to tackle the problems our members face.

“I appreciate the leadership at LawShield,” Leela states. “Currently, my husband is fighting stage 4 pancreatic cancer. LawShield has given me the flexibility and tools to be by his side.” We support Leela through this difficult time because family is not just a word, it is a core belief.

Leela also understands why self-defense is so important. Her father had to pull the trigger on an intruder, and his life changed forever. She has seen the aftermath and the struggles that happen after a self-defense incident and uses that knowledge every day at work.

We do everything in our power to protect ourselves and our families, but LawShield is there to help with what happens next.

How Texas LawShield Protected Me from my Neighbor

One Texas LawShield member found out what one of his neighbors would do after a neighborhood dispute turned into a violent road rage incident. Jerry N. was driving out of his neighborhood when a neighbor suddenly pulled in front of him and got out of his truck threatening to kill him. Watch our video to find out what happened next and how Texas LawShield was able to help Jerry through the legal aftermath.  

Self-defense incidents occur every day. Most of the time, you’ll have to defend yourself against people you know. Will you be prepared like Jerry? Become a member of U.S. and Texas LawShield, the legal defense for self-defense today.

Are Peacocks the Next Game Bird of Florida

In Fort Lauderdale, FL., as Local 10 News reports, “Residents of a Fort Lauderdale neighborhood are warning that a woman and man have been hunting peahens and peacocks in the community.”

As you can imagine, the mostly “pro-peacock” neighborhood in Ft. Lauderdale is in an uproar.  Janet Swanson, a local resident stated, “I have no idea what would cross somebody’s mind that they would come out here in their truck to shoot peacocks”.

We don’t know either Ms. Swanson.  Shooting animals from trucks in residential neighborhoods is never a good idea.

However, as an avid hunter, the first thing that popped into my mind was: Peacock? How do they taste and where can I hunt them?

My curiosity was peaked, and I wondered, is it even legal to hunt peacocks in Florida?

After performing a thorough search of the web, I discovered that Blue Peafowl, are not considered wildlife.  They are classified by state law as domestic livestock, the same classification that applies to chickens.  (But, do they taste like chicken?  That’s the real question here.)

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, that means the state has no authority to regulate the birds. Instead, the task of making and enforcing laws about peafowl is up to individual communities. Each community may have its own rules regarding what a resident is permitted to do to remove or eliminate nuisance peafowl from the area. However, peafowl may find some protection under Florida’s state animal cruelty laws.”

Okay avid hunters, don’t book a trip yet, there isn’t a hunting season for peacocks in Florida. However, if they aren’t considered a game animal in Florida, why was someone hunting them?  Oh, the woes of Floridians.

Apparently, not everyone loves peacocks as they can be quite noisy.  Fortunately, there are alternatives to being arrested and going to jail for shooting a peacock down in the street . . .

You can either get permission from the state to poison them or just call your local authorities.  I’m sure these are the phone calls that make cops in Florida love their jobs: “domestic disturbance, peacock involved”.

Either way, seems like such a waste of a potentially great tasting bird and a beautiful mount.

5 Tips to Navigating the Attorney Answered Emergency Hotline

One of the best benefits of being a U.S. LawShield member is the 24/7 attorney-answered emergency hotline. This number is located in red type on the back of your membership card. The number isn’t answered by a computer, a menu system, service or a call center. The first voice you hear will be an independent program attorney like myself. As one of the attorneys who regularly answers this hotline, I want to give you some tips and tricks to make this phone call as easy as possible.

One of the best benefits of being a U.S. LawShield member is the 24/7 attorney-answered emergency hotline. This number is located in red type on the back of your membership card. The number isn’t answered by a computer, a menu system, service or a call center. The first voice you hear will be an independent program attorney like myself. As one of the attorneys who regularly answers this hotline, I want to give you some tips and tricks to make this phone call as easy as possible.

  1. Tip #1: Treat the emergency hotline like 911. It is for emergency situations, generally ones in which law enforcement is already involved or will be involved shortly. Just like 911, we have to keep the emergency hotline clear for true emergencies and active, ongoing incidents. If you were involved in an incident last week, or just have a question about a situation, call the business line and ask to speak to your independent program attorney.
  2. Tip #2: Be patient. To ensure that the hotline is always answered by an attorney, even if there are many people calling at once with emergencies, the hotline is set up to roll to a list of available attorneys. Don’t get frustrated and hang up! The call WILL be answered by an attorney.
  3. Tip #3: Get to a private place and have your information ready. The purpose behind having an attorney answer the hotline directly is to establish attorney-client privilege right off the bat. Everything you say to the hotline attorney is confidential, so long as there isn’t a third party listening. If someone standing close by overhears you telling your story to the hotline attorney, that person can be called to testify about what you said. Try your best to get to a place where you can speak freely without being overheard. Then, be ready to give your name, location, LawShield member number, and callback number to the attorney on the other end of the line.
  4. Tip #4: Relax and let the independent program attorney steer the boat. The hotline attorney has been trained to take control of the situation. You have just had one of the worst days of your life, we don’t expect you to have a coherent statement ready for us. We will ask you the important questions to help make your first statement to law enforcement your best statement.
  5. Tip #5: Trust your attorney. Every case is different. Often, rushing an attorney to the scene is the right call to make. In other cases, an attorney on scene is going to provoke officers and make the situation worse, or possibly draw an extra level of scrutiny on your case. Sometimes, the best course of action is for you to hand the hotline over to officers so the attorney can speak to them directly upon their arrival. It all depends on your unique situation. The hotline attorney will use his or her knowledge of the law, your situation, and particular police agency to decide the best course of action. Trust them and heed the advice they have given.

Oklahoma Legislature Passes Constitutional Carry, Awaits Governor’s Decision

The Oklahoma legislature voted on May 2, 2018,to expand gun rights for every legal gun owner in the state.
SB 1212 will allow anyone who meets the following criteria to now carry a legal firearm either open or concealed, loaded or unloaded without a license in the State of Oklahoma:

•  21 years of age or older;
•  Never convicted of certain violent offenses; and
•  Legally allowed under Oklahoma and federal law to possess or purchase a firearm.

The decision on whether to sign the bill into law now rests with Governor Mary Fallin.

There is a lot of support for SB 1212 among ordinary citizens, and the Governor is talking with all of her advisers, lawyers, and counselors in order to formulate a course of action. However, no decision has been made to veto or sign the bill, according to Governor Fallin’s Press Director Michael McNutt.

With SB 1212 being passed on the last day of the Oklahoma legislative session, the Governor has 15 working days to sign or veto the bill. If she decides to take no action,it will result in a pocket veto and the bill will most likely die.

However, if Governor Fallin decides to sign the bill, it will go into effect on November 1, 2018. The new law applies to long guns as well as handguns.

Oklahoma will join 13 other states that have some form of Constitutional Carry laws in place: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

SB 1212 will eliminate the eight-hour conceal carry course that introduced people to the Self-Defense Act and required four hours of class and four hours of gun handling prior to applying for a concealed carry license.

Further, it also eliminates the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation vetting of applicants for a concealed carry license. However, all of the laws related to prohibiting firearm possession by felons, juvenile delinquents, adjudicated incompetents, mental patients, alcohol/drug abusers, stalkers, and domestic violence abusers still apply. Anyone carrying a gun must still announce to a policeman upon official contact that they are carrying a firearm.

As soon as a decision is made by Governor Fallin, U.S. LawShield® will let you know. If you have questions about this law or any other, call us and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney. Happy Carrying!

—Robert Robles, U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney

The Domino Effect of Banning Bump Stocks

On Saturday, March 10th, the Department of Justice released a new statement that carries with it drastic consequences for gun owners around America. The statement reads as follows:

“To the Office of Management and Budget a notice of a proposed regulation to clarify that the definition of machine gun in the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act includes bump stock type devices, and that federal law accordingly prohibits the possession, sale, or manufacture of such devices.”

Under the current National Firearms Act, the term machine gun is defined as “Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” In other words, if you hold the trigger and rounds keep going, you have a machine gun.

Currently, a bump stock does not make your gun a machine gun as you still must pull the trigger for each round. While the bump stock does utilize the kick of your gun to fire more quickly, it doesn’t touch the high rate of fire or ease of use that many machine guns possess.

With the new definition of machine gun possibly being added to the NFA, it is unclear what else will be banned. Would it extend to working on triggers to have a lighter pull, a shorter reset, or using a binary trigger? Each of these, just like the bump stock, would increase your rate of fire, so would these be banned as well? At this time we don’t know, but all of us are asking the questions and wondering where the line will be drawn.

How Are Gun Owners Reacting?

Gun owners across the country are preparing for the regulation changes. Many have been caught off guard or are misinterpreting what the changes mean. Jesse B., a Texas gun owner who owns a bump stock, is one of the many gun owners caught off guard by the proposed changes.

“Well I heard they were trying to ban bump stocks, even Trump was talking about it. I’m just glad I already have mine so I’m grandfathered into the old system. It’s not like I use my [bump stock] all that often, but I’d never let the government take it from me,” said Jesse.

Unfortunately, the changes are not that simple. The new regulations would not grandfather existing bump stock owners.  If this law passes, existing bump stock owners would be forced to destroy their legally-purchased bump stocks without compensation, or they would have an illegal machine gun on their hands.

So, what does this mean for Jesse, and the many others like him?

Potentially, a lot.

Changing the definition of a machine gun will make many legal gun owners, just like Jesse, felons because they now possess an illegal firearm, which also happens to be an illegal machine gun!

Under federal law, possession of an illegal machine gun imposes a fine up to $250,000 and jail time not to exceed 10 years. With limited options, most gun owners would have to return or destroy their now “machine gun device” with no compensation.

“How is it even legal that the government can force me to destroy something that I bought legally without compensation,” Jesse asked. “That just doesn’t make any sense.”

Jesse is not the only gun owner who feels that way. Many Florida residents are in agreement and are taking legal action.

A case has already been filed in the Leon County Circuit Court of Florida, asking a judge to certify a class-action lawsuit and order full compensation for what the plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate are tens of thousands of dollars for Florida residents who own bump stocks or any other device that will become illegal under the new proposed law.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys argue this is a regulatory taking of lawfully-owned property from people, which would make them entitled to compensation.

Gun Stores Scared of the Unknown

While very few gun stores depend solely on the sale of bump stocks to stay in business, this potential change in law has many gun store owners terrified. With this proposed legislation, the government can make a completely legal item a felony to own. If the government continues down this road of banning firearm accessories or attachments, many gun stores or manufacturers could lose everything.

Jon El of Phantom Tactical told us he doesn’t even sell bump stocks at his store as he personally considers them to be “novelties” vs. combat effective but is understandably worried about the change in law. Saying “it’s terrifying they are going to make you destroy your bump stock with possibly no compensation. The precedence this law would set is terrible for all gun owners.”

The Animals Aren’t the Only Thing to Fear, Know the Law to Survive an Animal Attack – Missouri

In our last newsletter, we shared three real-life stories of people fighting off a wild bear attack. These scenarios beg the question: How can a person legally defend themselves against an attacking animal?

The answer, from a legal perspective, is more complicated than you would think. If you look through the Missouri statutes, there is no one place to find a comprehensive man vs. animal answer.  Animals, both domestic and wild, are discussed in various places in the revised statutes as well as the code of state regulations.  It would be nice if the legislature had written one clear and comprehensive statute addressing the issue of use of force against animals, but as it now stands we must look to the hodgepodge of animal laws for guidance.

Missouri law allows deadly force against animals classified as “large carnivores” under RSMo 578.608 if a person has reason to believe that the large carnivore is chasing, attacking, injuring or killing a human being, livestock, or poultry. There are some restrictions. Large carnivores are defined as “tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard, and cheetah, including a hybrid cross with such cat, but excluding any unlisted nonnative cat, or any common domestic or house cat; or a bear of a species that is nonnative to this state and held in captivity”. RSMo 578.600.

A separate distinction is made for dangerous wild animals. Dangerous wild animals may be killed when on the loose in Missouri. Dangerous wild animals are specified to include lion, tiger, leopard, ocelot, jaguar, cheetah, margay, mountain lion, Canada lynx, bobcat, jaguarundi, hyena, wolf, bear, nonhuman primate, coyote, any deadly, dangerous, or poisonous reptile, or any deadly or dangerous reptile over eight feet long. The Missouri Department of Conservation has also issued “Rules of Engagement” to assist in situations involving nuisance or dangerous animals which can be found online.

Endangered species may be subject to special protections under federal law. If you believe an animal which may be endangered is damaging your property, you should contact a Missouri Department of Conservation Officer for instructions on how to proceed. If all else fails, the Wildlife Code of Missouri includes a “trump” rule that allows landowners to protect their property by trapping or shooting some species of wildlife where local ordinances don’t prohibit these methods. On Page 4 of the Wildlife Code under 3 CSR 10-4.130, it states:

“Subject to federal regulations governing the protection of property from migratory birds, any wildlife except deer, turkey, black bears and endangered species which beyond a reasonable doubt is damaging property may be captured or killed by the owner of the property being damaged, or by his/her representative at any time and without permit, but only by shooting or trapping… Wildlife may be so controlled only on the owner’s property to prevent further damage. Wildlife so killed or captured must be reported to an agent of the department within twenty-four hours and disposed of according to his/her instructions. Deer, turkey, black bears and endangered species that are causing damage may be killed only with the permission of an agent of the department and by methods authorized by him/her.” Be mindful to follow local ordinances as local ordinances regarding the killing of animals are allowed to be more restrictive than state laws.

It is not likely that we will ever have the opportunity to be confronted with a deadly scenario dealing with a “dangerous wild animal” or other non-native wild animal, however, the real possibility exists that we could be in a position to face a dangerous domestic animal or an angry livestock animal. What happens in this situation? Well, there is no statute that provides you with the specific authorization to defend yourself or another person from an attacking animal that is not a “dangerous wild animal.”  However, Missouri law does recognize an exemption to the Missouri animal cruelty statutes which provides that “the killing of an animal by any person at any time if such animal is outside of the owned or rented property of the owner or custodian of such animal and the animal is injuring any person or farm animal but shall not include police or guard dogs while working” is an exception to the criminal penalties which would otherwise apply.

Although use of force against animals is not clearly spelled out in the statutes, Missouri’s law regarding use of force against dogs is a useful guide. A person may use deadly force against a dog if there is a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful contact by the dog against yourself or another person. You cannot, however, justify killing a dog if it is within an enclosure belonging to the owner. RSMo 273.033.1.

Until now, we have been talking about Missouri law. What about federal law? The federal law has actually had the foresight to specifically provide that a person may kill an endangered animal in self-defense, such as the regulations concerning the Mexican Wolf in 50 C.F.R. Sec. 17.84(k)(3)(xii), or the Grizzly Bear in 50 C.F.R. Sec. 17.40(b)(i)(B). Unlike the Missouri statutes, this makes the federal law clear and comprehendible.  Therefore, if you are carrying your concealed handgun in a national park and you find yourself face to face with a Grizzly Bear, you can use your gun without fear of federal prosecution.