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Corporate Lawyers Join Activists to Restrict Gun Rights

Friday, December 9, 2016

Corporate Lawyers Join Activists to Restrict Gun Rights

This week, the New York Times announced that some of the nation’s largest law firms are forming a coalition with gun control advocates to provide tens of millions of dollars of free legal services to battle the Second Amendment.

The firms are a Who’s Who of the corporate legal world: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Covington & Burling; Arnold & Porter; O’Melveny & Myers; Dentons; Munger, Tolles & Olson; Hogan Lovells. What is less known is whether their high-paying clients are aware their legal fees are subsidizing attacks against the gun rights of law-abiding Americans.

Their allies are similarly well-known: the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence; and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety is conspicuously absent from the roster.

The newly formed Firearms Accountability Counsel Task Force intends to use courts and regulatory agencies to push their agenda. The strategy is unsurprising, given the victories the National Rifle Association and its members have achieved through grassroots political activism and the legislative process. Regulators in anti-gun states and liberal activist judges in state and federal courts are the gun control lobby’s last available means to achieve their objective.

The group’s talking points are a rehash of the arguments gun control advocates have used for decades. They claim Second Amendment is “an important part of our Constitution, and we don’t take issue with responsible gun owners,” but gun owners in California, Connecticut, and New York can tell you exactly how well gun rights are respected in those states. They further argue they want to address the “epidemic of gun violence” despite overwhelming evidence of falling crime rates.

Fortunately for Second Amendment advocates, these firms have been defeated in the past. Covington & Burling, representing the District of Columbia, lost the landmark Supreme Court case, District of Columbia v. Heller, which held that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Their legal strategies have a similar track record of failure. Anti-gun groups using the Environmental Protection Agency to ban lead ammunition were defeated in federal court in 2014. In October, attorneys pushing a tortured interpretation of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) were handed a defeat by a Connecticut Superior Court.

As to what motivates these firms, it isn’t high-minded altruism. They stand to profit enormously if they can win lawsuits. Attorneys collected more than $8.2 billion in legal fees when the four largest U.S. tobacco companies settled lawsuits brought by the attorneys general of 46 states. These firms are counting on the sheer financial burden of defending lawsuits to bring gun manufacturers to the settlement table and score a financial windfall.

This latest scheme proves the need for constant vigilance in defense of gun rights. The strength of the National Rifle Association is its millions of members. Your time, effort, and contributions sustain our mission of defending the Second Amendment against its well-financed opponents and tens of millions in free legal guidance. Your support is needed now more than ever.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.