I’m not an expert or even a novice on what I know about America’s legal profession, but when firms like Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, Arnold & Porter and Covington & Burling announce that they are joining forces to tackle a legal issue, it’s worth my time to figure out what’s going on. And when these firms and a bunch of other legal powerhouses announce that the issue they want to pursue is gun violence, then it’s something I need to understand. And what better way to understand what’s going on than a long and detailed article in The New York Times which says these firms are committing “tens of millions of dollars in free legal services” to aid the gun violence prevention community (GVP) in its efforts to reduce the annual carnage caused by America’s love affair with guns.
Predictably, Gun-nut Nation immediately responded to this announcement by accusing the lead Arnold & Porter attorney, Michael Schissel, of “lying through his teeth” in an interview with NPR because he wouldn’t admit that his real reason for getting involved was to help his firm get “rich off frivolous lawsuits” that would be filed once his firm helped dispose of the gun-immunity law known as PLCAA. And to prove just how much the gun industry doesn’t need any more anti-gun lawyers poking around, the whine about Schissel mentioned the sad case of Stag Arms whose owner was barred from the industry for life simply because he couldn’t provide the ATF with documentation about a pile of full-automatic assault guns. We’re not talking about the semi-automatic assault rifles which Stag manufactures in boatloads every month. We’re talking about weapons where you pull the trigger one time and the gun barks roughly ten times per second until all the ammo is used up.
Of course what the new legal alliance is facing isn’t some small fry in Connecticut who forgot to do the paperwork on his machine guns. What they are really facing is the power and authority of the Executive branch of the Federal government whose new occupant better not forget the television ads that NRA ran during his Presidential campaign. I find it interesting, incidentally, that there was absolutely no mention of anything having to do with the 2nd Amendment in the hundred-day agenda that Trump released back in October when he delivered his version of the Gettysburg Address. And what really concerns me in this respect was the statement coming out of the new legal coalition formed to help reduce gun violence that their effort “was not aimed at eroding gun rights.”
The problem with this approach on the part of advocates for GVP is that the statement simply flies in the face of reality, or at least the reality of gun ownership as it is understood by most people who own guns. Take, for example, the surveys which show a majority of gun owners and even NRA members allegedly supporting the extension of FBI-NICS background checks. Yet none of those surveys ever ask these same NRA members how they feel about the NRA’s explicit rejection of any additional background checks at all. I can guarantee you that if those same NRA members had to choose between supporting background checks and supporting the NRA, the folks in Fairfax would get their money and their votes.
The search by this new legal coalition to identify and speak to all those ‘responsible’ gun owners reminds me of all those ‘responsible’ Republicans who were going to desert the party and vote for Hillary because they just couldn’t accept the rantings and ravings of this new guy named Trump. Know what happened to all those ‘responsible’ Republicans when they walked into the voting booth on November 8th? They voted the way they always voted, which is exactly what will happen if gun owners have to choose between gun regulations drawn up by liberals (and their attorneys) or the protection of the NRA.