Who Are CCW Safe’s Attorneys and Advisors?

We've reviewed a lot of concealed carry insurance companies, and it's no secret that we think that CCW Safe offers the best bang for your buck for Concealed Carry legal protection. We explain the reason in this review article, CCW Safe Self Defense Insurance, Read Before Joining. One reason CCW Safe is our top choice is the depth of experience the attorneys and advisors have.

The Experienced Staff of CCW Safe—

I've put together a list of the staff of people who will come to your aid should you ever need legal help. I've included a little bio for each of them, taken directly from the company website.

CCW Safe has three Co-Founders:

Mike Darter CEO-

Mike was a police officer in Oklahoma City from 1991-2001, and a federal contractor for the DOJ from 2001-2011. During his career, Mike investigated and testified in hundreds of violent crimes, including shootings, homicides, and other violent felony crimes. Mike was involved in a shooting as a police officer and went through a lawsuit from that shooting. The lawsuit was later dismissed, but his experience is what led to the creation of CCW Safe.

CCW Safe Staff Co Founder

CCW Safe Co-Founder/CEO, Mike Darter.

Kyle Sweet General Counsel & CEO-

Kyle has defended many of the largest insurance companies and health systems in the United States in catastrophic injury cases. Kyle has won national Attorney of the Year on two occasions for two of the largest systems in the area. Kyle also defends Police Officers in Use of Force cases, in-custody deaths, and allegations of police brutality. Kyle has partnered with CCW Safe to deploy the CCW Safe Critical Response System to law enforcement agencies in Officer Involved Shootings throughout the region.

CCW Safe staff general counsel

CCW Safe Co-Founder/General Counsel, Kyle Sweet.

Stan Campbell COO-

Stan is a use of force expert that has, over the past 20 years, trained police, citizens and young people with autism de-escalation for the purpose of decreasing deadly encounters. You can learn more about his effort at this website, Dope The Movement.

Stan has worked hundreds of use of force cases as a police lieutenant and sits as the Chairman of the CCW Safe Claims Committee. Stan launched the “Police Encounter app” to help everyone get home safe.

CCW Safe co founder COO

CCW Safe Co-Founder/COO, Stan Campbell.

Don West, National Trial Counsel-

Don is a board-certified criminal trial specialist with 35 years of experience as a criminal defense trial lawyer. He has extensive experience representing those forced to defend themselves against unlawful and potentially lethal attacks. He has personally tried many deadly force self-defense cases during his career, most notably as co-counsel in the highly publicized defense of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting. As National Trial Counsel, Don will continue to expand our nationwide panel of knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense trial lawyers. This strengthens the coverage provided for CCW Safe members involved in a self-defense incident and will help organize CCW Safe sponsored panel presentations and training programs around the country.

“There’s no substitute for the right training and experience when it comes to defending yourself against an unlawful attack. The same is true when you need the help of an attorney to defend against criminal charges. Lawyers win cases because of hard work and by knowing what they are doing.“

-Don West

CCW Safe is pleased to have Don West as our National Trial Counsel. As National Trial Counsel, Don leads our national network of criminal defense attorneys and assists in the professional selection of counsel for CCW Safe members facing charges following a critical self-defense incident.

CCW Safe national trial counsel

CCW Safe National Trial Counsel, Don West.

Gary Eastridge, Critical Response Coordinator-

Gary is a retired law enforcement officer. He started with the Oklahoma City Police Department in February 1979, retiring in 2000 as an Inspector in the Homicide Unit. Gary also served as a department firearms instructor after receiving his CLEET certification in 1986. After retirement, he worked as a police officer with the International Police Task Force (IPTF) in support of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Gary worked homicides with counterparts from 53 nations as well as mentoring local Police officers. Gary was named Chief Investigator for the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office in January of 2007, where he served until his retirement in April of 2017 to accept his position with CCW Safe. He reviewed all officer involved shootings occurring in Oklahoma County as well as in custody deaths and other significant and high-profile investigations / prosecutions.

CCW Safe critical response coordinator

CCW Safe Critical Response Coordinator, Gary Eastridge.

These are an impressive group of guys who I would want on my side in a legal fight. At the time of this post, CCW Safe's team is the only company that I know of that successfully defended a member in court. And they won. You can listen to our Concealed Carry Podcast interview with Stephen Maddox.

There is also a panel of advisors who are important to fulfilling the Company's mission

Alexis Artwohl, PH.D. Behavioral Science Consultant –

Alexis Artwohl, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized behavioral science consultant to law enforcement as a trainer, researcher, and author. She has done extensive training in the USA, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Jordan. She is on the National Advisory Boards of the Force Science Institute and the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. She serves as the Behavioral Sciences Section Chair for the National Tactical Officers Association. Dr. Artwohl is co-author of the book DEADLY FORCE ENCOUNTERS and other publications. During her 16 years as a private practice clinical and police psychologist, she provided consultation to multiple agencies throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as traumatic incident debriefings and psychotherapy to numerous public safety personnel and their family members. Her husband, retired Asst. Chief David S. Butzer is an International Policing consultant with missions to Kosovo, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Macedonia, and Uganda. For further information about Dr. Artwohl, please visit this site.

CCW Safe advisor

CCW Safe Advisor Dr. Alexis Artwohl, Behavioral Science Consultant.

Larry Vickers, Firearms Community Advisor-

Larry Vickers of Vickers Tactical is a retired US Army 1st SFOD- Delta combat veteran with years of experience in the firearms industry as a combat marksmanship instructor and industry consultant. In recent years he has hosted tactical firearms related TV shows with the latest being TacTV of which Bravo Company is a presenting sponsor. Larry Vickers special operations background is one of the most unique in the industry today. He has been directly or indirectly involved in some of the most significant special operations missions of the last quarter century. During Operation “Just Cause” he participated in Operation Acid Gambit – the rescue of Kurt Muse from Modelo Prison in Panama City, Panama. As a marksmanship and tactics instructor while on active duty, he helped train special operations personnel that later captured Saddam Hussein and eliminated his sons Uday and Qusay Hussein. In addition he was directly involved in the design and development of the HK416, for Tier One SOF use, which was used by Naval Special Warfare personnel to kill Osama Bin Laden. Larry Vickers has developed various small arms accessories with the most notable being his signature sling manufactured by Blue Force Gear and Glock accessories made by Tangodown. In addition, he has maintained strong relationships with premium companies within the tactical firearms industry. Some of these include: Blue Force Gear, BCM, Aimpoint, Black Hills Ammunition, Wilson Combat, Mile High Shooting, Red State Tactical, and Schmidt & Bender. He is also the author of the Vickers Guide series of firearms books.Larry Vickers travels the country conducting combat marksmanship classes for law abiding citizens, law enforcement and military personnel. He has partnered with Alias Training, to coordinate classes to meet the needs of students attending the class. For more information about Larry Vickers visit this site.

ccw safe advosor

CCW Safe Advisor Larry Vickers, Firearms Community Advisor.

Jon Gutmacher, Legal Panel Advisor-

Jon H. Gutmacher is considered the leading authority in Florida on legal issues dealing with firearms, weapons, and self defense. He recently retired from courtroom practice with over thirty years, and approximately two hundred jury trials of experience, both as a prosecutor, civil, and criminal defense attorney. His book, “Florida Firearms – Law, Use & Ownership” is used throughout Florida in firearm and concealed weapon courses, has sold over 258,000 copies (Kindle version released August 2019), and is often called “the bible” on Florida firearm and self defense laws. He is a former prosecutor, federal firearms licensee, and police legal advisor who also participated in narcotic field operations. He is an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, and NRA Certified Refuse to be a Victim Instructor, and while practicing was a referral attorney for the NRA, Gun Owners of America, the American Firearms Industry, and several other pro-Second Amendment organizations. He was one of the four primary organizers of the 1994 Tallahassee Freedom Rally that helped stop an assault weapons ban in Florida. He has been featured numerous times on national and local television and radio programs, including “Nightline”, has a popular pro-gun blog on the internet, and writes a monthly legal column for the Florida Association of State Troopers. He has personally tried numerous homicide and self defense cases, civil police liability cases, administrative and judicial expunctions, has represented FFL’s before BATFE, defended law enforcement officers in disciplinary proceedings, handled NICS and FDLE database corrections, handled CWL and security guard revocations, argued cases before the Florida Supreme Court, and handled several cases in the United States Supreme Court. For more information about Jon Gutmacher visit this site.

ccw safe advisor

Jon Gutmacher, Legal Panel Advisor.

Hector Tarango, Media Relations Advisor-

Hector Tarango retired as a Resident Agent in charge for A.T.F. and has built a 31-year career in the world of security and law enforcement. Hector is a veteran of the U.S. Army, former Texas Police Officer, former U.S. Border Patrol Special Agent and presently owns Vindico Investigations. Mr. Tarango is a regular on-air guest and contributor to Fox News, ABC News and Telemundo on matters of mass shootings, terrorist bombings and other security topics. Mr. Tarango was trained in Peer Support Counseling in order to help other law enforcement officers and others to cope with traumatic events. Mr. Tarango provided peer support for officers and agents who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York city and the bombing attack at the Boston Marathon. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he conducted numerous terrorist related investigations as a member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. While working with the ATF in Los Angeles, California Hector was recruited to be director over all firearm, violent crime and explosive investigations wich covered 21 counties. Mr. Tarango is the recipient of the Medal of Valor, and the Hostile Action Award for his actions during high-risk operations. For more information on Mr. Tarango please visit this site.

ccw safe advisor

CCW Safe Advisor Hector Tarango, Media Relations Advisor.

Now you have the faces behind CCW Safe. If you want to see how CCW Safe stacks up against USCCA, you can read our comparison post called: Reviewing CCW Safe VS USCCA: Which is Our Number 1 Choice?

Once again, CCW Safe is our choice for self defense legal representation, that is why we partner with them. However, they may not be the right fit for you. I recommend looking at our comparison chart where you can see what each company offers in an easy-to-compare chart.

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.


  1. Scott on July 19, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    Before I started carrying I loved CCW for their great self defense articles. When I started carrying, they were my top choice for self defense legal services. I bragged about them to all my gun owning friends: great coverage, well respected attorneys, reasonable price. I was just about to sign up when I read their terms, the only legal contract they have with you.

    To my surprise, they had an unsettling exclusion notice that reads (as of 7/19/2023): “CCW Safe will not provide the services if, at the time of a use of force incident, you are impaired in public or private property not of your own, by the use of alcohol, controlled substances, or prescribed medication that impairs judgment.”

    Now, that may seem reasonable on its face, but it’s important to note that the terms provide no objective definition of “impairment” or reference to an independent standard like blood alcohol level. It’s just a big gaping, undefined loophole that they could use to deny you coverage.

    Imagine a scenario where you had a few sips of beer sitting on your friend’s porch and was forced to defend yourself from an attacker. Noting a hint of alcohol on your breath, the cop writes “smell of alcohol on breath” in his report. It wouldn’t even matter if you were breathalized and had a BAC 0.01% (DUI level is 0.08%). They could still deny me coverage. They could also deny you coverage if the pharmacist got your prescription dose wrong or you accidentally took the wrong medication.

    If you’re thinking “Oh they wouldn’t do that. They’re good folk.” just remember that they’re extremely good lawyers and also good businessmen who know that self defense cases are expensive and bring risk. The question is not wheteher they WOULD excercise that loophole but whether they COULD. It’s telling that they nowehere define it and ignored my multiple requests for an objective clarification or even a reason why it’s vague. They’re lawyers whose reputation is unmatched. This is an not an error or oversight. That vague language is strictly intentional. They know this is an open-ended loophole and they know how they can use it to back away from cases they don’t want to take on.

    To me this tarnishes their reputation and makes them look like shysters.

    • Jacob Paulsen on July 19, 2023 at 2:32 pm

      Scott, thank you for your comment. I think you will find similar exclusion clauses in the agreements of all the companies in this space. I just checked 3 of the more popular providers and found similar and I’d say stronger exclusions. I emailed the CCW Safe customer service and asked your question. They responded within minutes. Here is what they said: “Our exclusion is one of the most liberal in the industry. We do not cover you if impaired. Not drinking. Impaired. In most states it is illegal to possess a firearm while “under the influence”. We say impaired. And then only on property not of your own. So if you are home you can even be impaired, although we do not encourage it. A common definition of impairment is “diminished in function or ability”. Not a state one should be using a firearm. We have had many cases where a member was drinking at the time of an incident. We have not denied a single claim due to this exclusion in my 6+ years with the company.” End of the response from CCW Safe. For my part I would add, that I’m not an attorney, but terms like impaired are not fully up to the interpretation of the company who wrote the agreement. The law, by its nature, allows that those terms can be debated in a courtroom if it comes to that. If you were a member and denied coverage you could sue and the definition of that term as understood by the court is the relevant fact unless it is explicitly stated in the agreement which as you noted it is not. I’m biased here. I believe in CCW Safe so I’m probably being a bit defensive but I think your summation is unfair both because it points out an exclusion that one company has without any comparison to similar exclusions by their competitors and I think it makes a big issue out of something that isn’t really an issue but that is obviously my opinion. Thanks for commenting!

      • Scott on July 19, 2023 at 4:52 pm

        Thanks for the reply, Jacob.

        Like I said, I really like CCW and almost chose their service. After I saw that exclusion, though, I DID compare CCW to other companies in the space — all of them. I even made a spreadsheet! LOL USCCA’s coverage was paltry. Others could accept or reject a case at will. Some reimbursed after the fact. I chose US Law Shield because their coverage was comparable to CCW and had no fuzzy lopholes. I searched my Legal Service Contract with US Law Shield and it has no mentions of “inhibition,” “impairment,” “influence,” “diminished,” “alcohol,” “drug,” or “substance” as exclusions. I can send it to you if you want for your research.

        The problem remains…

        I’m not going to trust my life, my liberty, and my fortune to a company that CAN choose not to cover me because I took a few sips of beer. That their rep said they never HAVE denied coverage they still COULD deny my coverage if my police report indicated “alcohol on breath” even if I only blew a barely detectable 0.01% BAC. The only contract they have with you is the terms, not Customer Rep conversations.

        Why don’t they just define it with “we reserve the right” language so they could still choose to cover those claims anyway? The fact is, the only reason that vague clause exists is so that they CAN use it if they want to. That they WON’T define it makes me sceptical.

        Further, I get what you’re saying about the court defining the term in a suit, but seriously, is “I can sue them” even remotely a useful or cost-efficient option since all they have to do is define it and say they can cover you anyway?

        Also, Texas Penal Code’s prohibition against carrying a handgun while intoxicated does not apply to [LTC] license holders.

        Thanks again for your response. ! Love your podcast!

  2. James Phelps on July 23, 2023 at 9:49 pm

    I chose CCW Safe for two reasons: Don West successfully defended George Zimmerman in court; and they have no limit on legal fees. I specifically chose not to go with USCCA because they flooded me with ads – whenever a company does that, it raises red flags for me.

  3. Craig on August 17, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    I am a member of CCW Safe. I do watch some of the videos on the sight but would love to see a good coverage of CCW Safe videos about traveling with firearms (Semi-auto rifles and handguns) across state lines and the Do’s and Don’ts. There are millions of people who now make their life living in vans, RV’s cars and the like because of finical issues, retirement or the just for the freedom, and it is my belief many of these individuals have no clue they are breaking possible state laws. Federally these people are protected under Code US 926A, but this has conditions tied to it and is not a 100% protection for interstate travelers.
    In some Easten tyrannical states, the State Police will take your license plate number and check if you are a carrier, sometimes if they see you are out of state especially from western states that are progun they will pull you over. This has been noted in J. Scott Kappas 2023 “Traveler’s Guide to the Firearms Laws of the fifty States”.

Leave a Comment