Few concealed carry license holders think much about what happens if they are involved in a self-defense shooting. Once their training class is over and they have glossed through the minimum requirements of the concealed carry class curriculum, very few of us stop to think of the consequences of being involved in a situation where your concealed carry weapon (CCW) comes into play.
In the immediate aftermath of the self-defense shooting, you can expect certain things to happen.
- The police will arrive and begin to question everyone on the scene.
- You will, more than likely, be handcuffed and segregated from the scene.
- You will be considered a suspect in a criminal investigation.
- After transportation to the police station, any number of investigators may want to interrogate you.
- You may be charged with a crime, arraigned before a judge, and put in jail.
- You or your family will want to hire an attorney
- To get out of jail, you or your family must arrange for bail.
All these things may happen in the first 48 hours after the incident occurs. Also, you can expect you and your family to come under scrutiny from the press. You will lose income because of the time away from your job, and your employer may very well terminate your employment because of the situation.
You are about to enter a storm of court appearances, both criminal and possibly civil, court appearance, and an ever-mounting financial challenge that can ruin any family’s security.
A little forethought and planning may have put the answer to most of these problems in your wallet if you have joined one of the many organizations in the United States, providing what is often termed concealed carry insurance.
Deciding which organizations are best for you can be a challenge. A head-to-head comparison between Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network vs USCCA will make it easier for you to decide on which organization best fits your needs.
Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network (ACLDN) Review
First, you need to understand that ACLDN is not insurance. ACLDN is a for-profit membership organization. They are adamant in their statements that they are not insurance and do not offer insurance benefits. The website of the ACLDN clearly states its goals.
- To help members in the legal fight after they justifiably use force in self-defense by paying for the services of attorneys, expert witnesses, private investigators, and other professionals essential to mounting a vigorous legal defense of self-defense on behalf of our members
- Educating our members (and to some extent, the gun-owning public) in the law governing use of force in self-defense and how armed citizens can protect against unmeritorious prosecution
(Courtesy Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network web site, https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/learn/support-plan-comparison)
What You Get with a Membership in ACLDN
If you elect to subscribe to the ACLDN will receive the following benefits.
- A membership packet that includes the 325-page book, “Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense” by Massad Ayoob, noted teacher, author, and instructor.
- Nine DVD set of training videos
- Online access to educational materials including articles, interviews, and a monthly journal
- In the event you are involved in a self-defense shooting you get:
- The retainer fee for the attorney of your choice
- Help in arranging bail
- Access to additional funding for legal expenses in criminal or civil actions
- Access to a list of affiliated network attorneys
Again, I must mention that ACLDN is not insurance. A Legal Defense is the source of all the funds used to provide benefits to the members. The source of the Legal Defense fund is 25% of all the member dues and 100% of any corporate sponsorship funds.
Before any benefits are paid out by the ACLDN, they will review the facts of the incident to determine if the circumstances meet the criteria outlined in the membership agreement. A panel of experts affiliated with the ACLDN conducts this review.
How Much Does It Cost?
ACLDN offers a range of pricing plans for the memberships plus some add-on options to increase the benefits or expand the membership to your family.
- The basic membership is $135 per year for one year. Each year after the first year, the membership drops to $95.
- A three-year plan is available for $295.
- If you want to go longer, you can purchase a 10-year plan for $790, which works out to $79.00 per year.
- As an option, you can add up to 3 additional members to your plan for $60 per person per year.
One thing to look for is the size of the organization, especially one that depends on a membership to provide the funding for any services offered. The ACLDN has a small membership compared to most of its competitors. In one interview, the founder of ACLDN stated that the organization had 1,500 members and a legal defense fund of $30.000.
This figure seems like an insignificant amount should one of its members call on the services and benefits of the organization. By his admission, the founder of ACLDN states that “ we don’t defend your case in court, but will provide you with some money upfront so you can hire an attorney and start your legal defense”
USCCA is a membership-based organization located in Wisconsin and chartered as an LLC. The stated mission of the USCCA is to “Educate and train 10,000,000 responsibly Armed Americans, protect 1,000000 USCCA Members, stop 20,000 crimes and save 1,000 lived by 2022”.
USCCA is, again, not an insurance company. They offer some legal defense benefits as part of the membership package. The organization sets the priorities of its mission as:
- Education – The founders of USCCA maintain that an educated and knowledgeable concealed carry is safer and more prepared to use their concealed carry weapon responsibly. Staying abreast of the latest changes in concealed carry laws and always sharpening skills are the priority of the USCCA mission.
- Training – Developing and maintaining skills is next on the mission priority list for USCCA. Training for real-life scenarios, consistent proper instruction, and developing new skills goes hand in hand with the USCCA’s top priority of being educated and knowledgeable.
- Preparation – Having the forethought to prepare for the eventuality that you may have to use your concealed carry firearm in a self-defense situation rounds out the mission as defined by the USCCA. Becoming a member and knowing that the financial, legal, and support structures are in place to protect you and your family raise your level of preparedness.
What you get with a USCCA Membership
USCCA meets these three priority missions by providing a wide range of education benefits, including training videos, a reference library, and even real-time live firearms training. To meet the needs of financial protection and the security of your family, the USCCA offers:
- Up to two million dollars in civil defense and damages protection
- UP to $250,000 in criminal defense, bail bond funding, and attorney retainer coverage
- Upfront funding
- Your choice of attorney
There are many other benefits touted by the USCCA as part of their membership package. Of course, these other perks and benefits are only as valuable as you make them. It seems to be that most of the members of the USCCA are shopping only for the legal coverages.
How Much Does It Cost?
USCCA offers a three-tiered membership plan. The options offered are:
- Gold Membership Plan – $22 a month
- Platinum Membership Plan – $30 a month
- Elite Membership Plan – $47 per month
There are no add-on or additional options. You can choose which tier meets your needs, but you get what is offered with no options to customize or enhance your membership.
The Organization – USCCA
USCCA reports a membership of 325,000 members across the United States. Also, the USCCA benefits have the backing of a nationally recognized insurance carrier rated A++ by A. M. Best. Such coverage is a standard of protection that very few other concealed carry protection plans can boast. It is highly unlikely that a claim from a member will go unpaid because of a lack of funding from the organization.
Note: one of our author’s, Noemi Gonzales, personally has USCCA. She wrote a personal review of USCCA so make sure to read that as well.
Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network vs USCCA
Looking at the two plans side by side can make it easy to decide which plan best suits your needs.
|Membership Plans||Gold Plan|
$600,000 Self-defense legal coverage protection
$350/day lost wages coverage while in court
$3,000 personal hardship benefit
$3,000 Psychological support benefit
1.5 million self-defense legal expense benefit
$500/day wage coverage while in court
$4,000 personal hardship benefit
$4,000 psychological support benefit
2.25 million in self-defense legal expense benefit
$750/day lost wages benefit while in court
$6,000 personal hardship benefit
$6,000 psychological support benefits.
|$135 annually for the first year, $95 each year after that|
$25,000 coverage for civil or criminal defense expenses
$25,000 bail bond coverage
NOTE: This plan does not cover civil damage that may be awarded.
|Training||Multiple options for ongoing training including Weekly training drills, Certified Trainer network, Online Video training library, eLearning training systems||None|
|Education||CCW reciprocity map|
USCCA App for members
Digital guides and ebooks
Interactive online seminars
The Pros and Cons
Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network Pros
- ACLDN offers low-cost protection for minimal benefits.
- Meager benefits
- An advisory panel must review any payout beyond the initial $10,000
- Limited education and training benefits
- You must choose your attorney
- No hotline access
- Attorneys available in all 50 states
- 100% upfront coverage
- Expert witness coverage
- 24/7/365 hotline
- Massive amounts of member benefits and perks included
- More expensive than some other plans
- Lots of email promotions and advertising after you sign up
If all you are looking for is basic and minimal financial assistance, if you are involved in a self-defense shooting, the ACLDN plan might work for you. The meager initial funds that are available may not cover all the first expenses you incur in a criminal or civil proceeding. The wait while for review of any further requests, can mean you are out of pocket on a lot of the vital expenses.
The lack of any other coverage for civil damage, loss of wages, and other protections offered by any of the other organizations providing this kind of service is a definite negative.
If financial protection for your family and the funding to provide an adequate defense for criminal or civil proceedings is your need, then ACLDN probably will not offer what you want.
USCCA has tailored its plans to be a generic fit for the largest number of concealed carry license holders. There are some gaps for some people, but overall, their three-tiered membership plan offers one of the best sets of financial protection and member benefits in the market.
The generous caps on their legal defense funding, coupled with the other financial, educational, and training benefits, bring the best ratio of features to the cost of almost any other plan. In this instance and this comparison, the benefit ratios don’t compare between these two organizations.
If your goal is to pre-pan for the worst eventualities and have in place the monetary and organizational support when the need arises, USCCA certainly is a better option.
If your financial situation is such that you can afford to take on thousands in legal bills plus the attendant other expenses that will arise should you be involved in a self-defense shooting, then the Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network may be an option.
If you are like most concealed carry license holders, the depth of your financial wellness is not enough to take that risk. The small extra cost of a USCCA plan is well worth the reduction in risk and the peace of mind that comes from having the backing and protection of a well-rounded and comprehensive concealed carry protection plan such as the USCCA offers.