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Gun Control Groups Trying to Extract Pledges from Law Students to Never Work for the Gun Industry

Gun control groups are big Shakespeare fans, apparently. They’re taking a page from the famed Elizabethan-era bard’s Henry VI as the next play on foisting gun control on the American public.

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” Shakespeare wrote in the play.

Two gun control groups are putting a 21st Century twist on the line and taking to university campuses to convince law students to pledge to never represent the firearm industry, or its interests, in court.

Call it the long game. Gun control isn’t satisfied with attacking Second Amendment rights, or even First Amendment rights. Now, they’re targeting Sixth Amendment rights too. That’s the amendment that guarantees the right to be represented by legal counsel.

Peter Ambler Giffords
Couresy C-SPAN

Giffords and March for Our Lives, gun control groups headed by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and antigun billionaire Michael Bloomberg, respectively, are canvassing campuses to convince law students to sign a pledge they won’t represent the firearm industry or firearm owners when it comes to protecting and preserving Second Amendment rights. The gun control groups’ pledge peddles verifiably false claims to convince the aspiring lawyers that the firearm industry is responsible for violent crime in America.

Not criminals. Not gang violence. Not the illicit drug trade. They’re blaming the industry for crimes committed by violent offenders and ignoring basic legal foundations to sway law students to deny legal services to companies and individuals that follow the law.

Do You Swear?

David Pucino, Giffords’ deputy chief counsel, makes some dubious claims to convince law students that after they earn their juris doctorate, they should sign the gun control group’s nonbinding pledge to never represent the legal interests of a Constitutionally-protected industry. First among these misleading claims is that firearms are the leading cause of death for American children.

David Pucino Giffords Law
David Pucino

This is a favorite false talking point among gun control groups and antigun politicians, including President Joe Biden. The problem is that it is demonstrably false. The University of Michigan manipulated data sets to include 18 and 19-year-old adults as “children” to boost the figure of childhood deaths to surpass those caused by motor vehicle accidents. When 18 and 19-year-olds are backed out because they’re not children, but in fact adults, that claim falls apart. NSSF demonstrated that here.

Giffords’ pledge website also claims the firearm industry actively opposes “any effort to pass gun safety laws.” Again, this is demonstrably false. NSSF backed the FIX NICS Act, named for the firearm industry’s FixNICS® initiative to get all states to submit disqualifying records into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). NSSF changed the laws in 16 states and in Congress to get the background check system to work as intended. In fact, NSSF helped create the instant point-of-sale background check system that would instantly inform a firearm retailer if a customer is prohibited from purchasing a firearm.

Pucino urges law student to never work for firms that represent the firearm industry because, in his estimation, the firearm industry “represent some really reprehensible companies that have done some horrible things.”

Never mind that the firearm industry administers the Real Solutions. Safer Communities campaign that includes FixNICS and Project ChildSafe, which partners with over 15,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states and five U.S. territories to distribute over 40 million free firearm safety kits including locking devices.

Real Solutions also includes the partner programs with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to prevent illegal “straw” purchases of firearms through Don’t Lie for the Other Guy and Operation Secure Store to help firearm retailers voluntarily increase security to deter and prevent firearm burglaries and robberies. The firearm industry also partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to provide firearm retailers and ranges kits to encourage a “brave conversation” to prevent suicide tragedies.

Persona Non Grata

Giffords and March for Our Lives think these programs are “reprehensible” enough to demand the ATF not work with the firearm industry on these campaigns that have been proven to save lives. Giffords was among 43 other gun control groups that demanded the ATF stop working with the industry it regulates.

“Stop funding, partnering, or co-branding programs with the National Sports Shooting Foundation via the Department of Justice and other Federal Agencies,” the letter said, according to The Reload. “No longer should the ATF hold private briefing and training sessions at NSSF’s annual SHOT SHOW without making their remarks available to the public online.”

ATF Director Steve Dettlebach and NSSF President Joe Bartozzi working together to stop straw purchases in St. Louis. (courtesy Shooting Industry)

NSSF pointed out how “unserious” gun control groups are with their demands then. They continue to prove that unseriousness now. These gun control groups put special-interest political agendas ahead of real answers to keep the public safe. Their answer isn’t to “do something” as they demand. It is to “do something” to ban guns. And now, apparently, it is also to ban legal representation.

Giffords and March for Our Lives rolled out their “pledge” drive at the University of California – Berkeley School of Law, Cardozo School of Law, City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, Vanderbilt Law School and Yale Law School. Pucino said the drive isn’t limited to those schools. Plans are to make it “broad and national.”

The goal is to encourage the aspiring lawyers to flex their legal muscle, putting pressure on law firms that they’ll miss out on talent because these law school graduates will refuse to assist in any cases defending the firearm industry or Second Amendment rights. It’s a tall order.

“There’s certainly the case that the legal system allows for and encourages for everyone to have representation, of course,” Pucino reluctantly conceded in an interview with The American Independent.

These gun control groups might want to read Shakespeare’s Hamlet and flip forward to the line that reads, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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