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ABA logo (courtesy

Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Grassley, and Members of the Committee:

I am Laurel Bellows, President of the American Bar Association (ABA). I am submitting this statement on behalf of the ABA for the Committee’s consideration for its January 30, 2013 hearing on “What Should America Do About Gun Violence?” The ABA, with nearly 400,000 members, commends the Committee for holding this hearing and its early scheduling. We also commend President Obama and Vice-President Biden for their leadership. They have acted responsibly in instituting and conducting the Administration’s recently concluded comprehensive review of recommendations to end gun violence in America, resulting in the issuing of the far-reaching report, “Now Is The Time: The President’s Plan to Protect Our Children and Our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence.” . . .

America is paying attention. The unthinkable slaughter of 20 young children and six adult staff members of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut shortly before Christmas has shaken our nation’s confidence that we can protect our nation’s children and ourselves from senseless gun violence. It has also caused all of us to pause and take stock of how such horrors seem to occur with increasing frequency in our country. This mass killing event – following months after a mass killing at a movie opening in a theater in Aurora, Colorado, and the mass killings in Tucson, Arizona, that also resulted in severe injuries to former Representative Gabby Giffords – has led the nation to more fully recognize the dangers posed to the public when the common components of these shootings come together.

These incidents have in common military firearms, high-capacity clips and their use by mentally disturbed persons who easily amassed the firepower capable of quickly killing many innocent citizens involved in everyday activities and settings. As many have commented and is noted by= the President’s report, however, the shooting and killing of individuals on a daily basis takes place in America at a level far beyond that of other nations. We have become too inured and perhaps numb regarding this reality. We have begun to wake up to our responsibilities to confront and to end this violence.

The ABA has been concerned with the human  toll and impact of gun violence upon our society and has advocated for stronger regulation of firearms for a long time. Shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, we first called for more careful regulation of firearms sales in interstate commerce. Since then, through our the House of Delegates, a policy making body that includes representatives from state and local bar associations around the country, the ABA has approved more than a dozen policy resolutions directed toward reducing gun violence.

The ABA continues to believe that our nation’s laws can be significantly strengthened by taking reasonable, common-sense steps that do not violate the constitutional right to bear arms as articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), or that would unreasonably impinge on gun owner traditions and ordinary uses of firearms. We recognize, however, that there is no simple solution to gun violence. We know that steps are needed to address school violence, mental health services, and juvenile crime prevention, in addition to gun safety and greater enforcement of firearm violations.

A synopsis of these policy recommendations is at:

In the wake of Newtown and the focus on proposed legislative action, the ABA wants to clearly state its strong support for the major recommendations of the President. We further believe there  is now a remarkable consensus among the American public regarding the urgency for lawmakers to take responsible and prompt action to prevent future incidents as those we have recently  witnessed. We urge the Committee to speed action to:

Strengthen Background Check Requirements and the National Instant Check System

The current operational status of the National Instant Check System for background checks of prospective purchasers of firearms is deeply flawed; it must be strengthened by Congress on an emergency basis. Since 1968 federal law has limited gun sales through licensed firearms dealers to legally qualified purchasers, and since 1993 the law has required a background check, prior to completion of the sale of a firearm, of federal and state records through the National Instant Check System (NICS). However, federal law continues to exempt an estimated 25-40 percent of all gun sales in the United States from this requirement. Unlicensed sellers are permitted by law to sell firearms with no background check whatsoever. Convicted felons, domestic violence abusers, persons who are dangerously mentally ill and potential terrorists can walk into any gun show or flea market, or click on their internet browser, and buy any weapon and unlimited supplies of ammunition with no background check and no questions asked.

Recent public polling suggests that for the first time there is broad recognition by the American public, including gun owners, that the background check system for gun sales is in reality two systems that allow easy, unchecked access to guns by criminals and the mentally ill. The public has reached a high level of consensus seen on few public issues, as evidenced in several recent polls showing that more than 90 percent of responders support a “universal background check.” Pollsters often note that most of the public assumes that the law already requires a background check for all sales of firearms, including sales at gun shows and for private sales. Regarding this question, there is remarkably little difference in support for this reform between gun owners, NRA members, non-gun owners, men and women, Republicans and Democrats: all agree in overwhelming majorities seldom seen on national policy issues that requiring a background check prior to all sales of firearms is a necessary step that Congress should take with great dispatch to better protect our children and all citizens from gun violence.

The ABA believes that Congress should quickly legislate on this issue. Gun shows can continue to flourish with a background check requirement, while ending their role as a too easy source of guns for dangerous persons who should not have them. A number of states have required background checks at gun shows without serious harm to sales or the trade. We believe that those who have concerns regarding the means of instituting background checks at gun shows and in protecting narrow exceptions for background checks for private sales should come to the table: these issues can be resolved responsibly and in short order with responsible cooperation.

Stronger laws and enforcement are needed to prevent gun trafficking

In 2004, the ABA called for stronger enforcement and prosecution of federal gun laws. Under this policy, the ABA supports provision of adequate federal investigative and prosecutorial resources targeted not only to prosecuting crimes committed with guns, but also to prosecuting illegal gun trafficking, illegal sales by firearms dealers, stolen firearms offenses, and false statements by prospective buyers.

We support legislation that is expected to move forward shortly on a strongly bipartisan basis to address “straw purchases” of firearms. Straw purchases of firearms are one of the most common ways criminals obtain guns. Straw purchases occur whenever persons who may not legally acquire a firearm, or who wish to do so anonymously, have a companion or colleague buy it on their behalf. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has identified straw purchases as the single most significant factor in illegal gun trafficking, accounting for nearly a third of all firearms involved in federal trafficking investigations.

In many places, criminals are more likely to obtain their weapons through straw purchases than at gun shows. Such straw purchases are regularly used by criminals, criminal gangs and persons disqualified by age, such as the individuals involved in the mass killings at Columbine High School. Numerous investigations of illegal gun trafficking, including undercover investigations conducted by federal, state and local officials, have found that the current prohibition on false statements regarding the purchase of a gun for the purpose of transfer to an ineligible buyer is widely disregarded by dealers and the persons involved in straw purchases.

These criminal violations are also not regularly prosecuted, as the current law is ambiguous, often difficult to prove in court, and accompanied by modest criminal penalties that result in these violations’ being deferred to prosecution of other crimes. We believe thoughtful legislation can close this gap in current law and help prevent the current widespread evasion of background checks through straw purchasing.

The availability of assault weapons and high-capacity clips should be limited to the U.S. military, the National Guard and law enforcement

The firearms used in these recent massacres are weapons of war. They are weapons designed to kill the maximum number of people in the shortest period of time. While we appreciate that there may be some recreational use of these firearms, and many of them are owned and handled safely and responsibly, we support legislation introduced by Senator Feinstein that would not take away or make the guns presently owned illegal, but would limit the future sale and transfer of assault weapons and ammunition devices that hold more than 10 bullets.

We urge the Committee to act swiftly to approve S. 150, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. The proposed act makes revisions to the 1994 Act that strengthens it in a number of important respects. The proposed act protects the rights of existing gun owners by carefully defining the characteristics of assault weapons to distinguish them from the more than 2,200 specifically named weapons used for hunting or sporting purposes. It grandfathers into legal status assault weapons currently owned rather than rendering them illegal, but requires more careful regulation of their transfer and sale by bringing them and large capacity ammunition devices under the provisions of the National Firearms Act, subject to the existing registration requirements long in effect for fully automatic firearms. We also strongly support the proposed act’s ban on future transfer of grandfathered ammunition clips, as well as the proposed voluntary buyback of these clips, as we believe the public safety of everyone in our country will be best served by eventually eliminating these devices from civilian circulation. The purpose of the proposed act and its 1994-enacted predecessor is to narrow the availability of these weapons and dry up the supply over time.

The expired 1994 federal assault weapons ban clearly reduced the incidence of assault weapons used in crime. In the five-year period (1990-1994) before enactment of the ban, assault weapons constituted 4.82 percent of the crime gun traces that ATF conducted nationwide. When the ban was in effect, these assault weapons made up only 1.61 percent of the guns ATF traced to crime– a drop of 66 percent from the pre-ban rate. ATF data showed a year-by-year decline in the percentage of assault weapons, evidence that the longer the statute was in effect, the less available these weapons became for criminal misuse. A report by the Department of Justice documented these findings along with a decline in the absolute number of assault weapons traced to crime during this period. Every major law enforcement organization in the country has long supported a strong assault weapons ban.

The Police Executive Research Forum found that 37 percent of police departments reported seeing a noticeable increase in criminals’ use of assault weapons since the ban expired. A study by the Violence Policy Center found that, between 1998 and 2001, one in five law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty was killed with an assault weapon. Virtually every major law national enforcement organization supports limiting the availability of assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. While some maintain that the Second Amendment should apply to prevent any regulation of assault weapons and high-capacity clips, the ABA believes that the individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment must be understood to have some limits, just as does the First Amendment and every individual right under our Constitution. As it is often noted regarding the right to free speech that there is no right to falsely cry “fire” in a crowded theater, likewise there are limits to Second Amendment rights, They must be balanced against other rights in serving the common welfare, including protecting the safety of children and all citizens from especially dangerous weapons. It is on this basis that fully automatic “machine guns” have been carefully regulated since the 1930s. As Justice Scalia stated in his majority opinion in the Heller case:

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. [United States v.] Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”

The muskets of the 18th Century and other single-shot weapons have little in common with the military-style assault weapons today and the100-round ammunition drum that was used at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. These are unusually dangerous weapons, which the government may regulate under the Second Amendment and the Heller decision. We believe the government has a duty to do so to protect the common good – specifically, the safety of American citizens.

Strengthen and fully implement the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)

As we have noted, Congress must act to close the current significant gaps in the requirement for a background check prior to all purchase of firearms. Congress should also act to strengthen the system that is set up to insure that background checks will be thorough and complete. Federal support, authorized under current law to assist states, territories, and Tribal governments in establishing or upgrading technology used for determining firearm purchaser eligibility, must be adequately funded and supplemented even in a difficult budget environment to achieve a more complete check system. Federal grant support is needed to improve the automation and transmittal to federal and state record repositories of felony criminal history dispositions, records relevant to determining whether a person has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, court orders, and mental health adjudications or commitments.

Only a portion of state mental health records are presently provided and integrated into the NICS system. Although the number of mental health records available to the system has increased significantly in recent years, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office found that 17 states still have made fewer than 10 percent of their mental health records available. Other record categories are provided to the NICS at a higher rate than mental health records, but state records for felony convictions and domestic violence offenses are still incomplete and should be improved to make sure dangerous people are stopped by the NICS background check.

We applaud the President’s action to issue a Presidential Memorandum requiring federal agencies to fully cooperate and share relevant records with the background check system. Congress should act as well and address how to provide incentives to states to examine and overcome barriers to provision of mental health records, in particular. We also urge the Committee to reexamine the provisions of current federal law to better assure that its provisions regarding disqualification of purchasers on the basis of mental health status adequately protect the public against dangerous persons. The ABA also supports amending the law to expand disqualification for gun purchase of persons convicted not only of domestic violence misdemeanor offenses, but also for other misdemeanor violence offenses against a person.

Further, the ABA called for the enactment of legislation to require retention of gun sales background-check records for 90 days and to authorize sharing federal data regarding the point of sale of guns traced to crime with state and other law enforcement entities.

Strengthen regulation of gun sales and transfers

In addition to our support for the President’s recommendations for these key proposals, the ABA has called for a number of amendments to federal law necessary to strengthen regulation of gun sales and transfers in order to better protect public safety. These amendments would:

• Prohibit sales, transfers, and possession of firearms by persons convicted of violent misdemeanors, including persons convicted of domestic violence and child abuse offenses or subject to a protective order.

• Prohibit interstate sales by unlicensed persons of ammunition and firearm components.

• Upgrade standards of eligibility for licensing of dealers; require stringent background checks of dealer applicants and employees, and make issuance of dealer licenses discretionary rather than mandatory.

• Require dealers, manufacturers, transporters, and importers of firearms and ammunition to provide adequate and secure storage facilities to reduce theft, and require dealer cooperation with criminal investigations and reporting of all gun thefts to ATF and local police.

• Provide ATF sufficient resources and authority to conduct periodic audits of all firearms dealers.

• Require licensed dealers to comply with state and local laws and maintain adequate business insurance.

I appreciate the opportunity to share the views of the American Bar Association on this pressing subject. We look forward to working with the Committee in support of its expeditious action on legislation to prevent and reduce gun violence in America.

* * * * *

For additional information on these issues, or to tap into our membership expertise on these subjects, please contact Thomas Susman (202-626-3920; [email protected]), Director of the ABA’s Governmental Affairs Office, or Bruce Nicholson (202-662-1769)

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    • I read as much as I could stand… it’s just a longer winded version of the same emotion based garbage with no solid footing in the land of imperical evidence… pathetic

    • There’s bound to be some lawyers out there that disagree with this position. Anyway for you to form a CBA (Constitutional Bar Association)?

    • This is one reason among many why freedom-loving lawyers like me don’t voluntarily send money to the ABA. Unfortunately, many state bar associations are just as bad, and some states (including one of the states in which I am licensed) have a “unified bar,” forcing attorneys to pay dues to the bar association just to be able to practice law.

      • I’m with you 100% on that Ralph. Everybody hates a good counselor, until they need one…

        But people get testy when they realize the carve outs for Bar members. Especially the ones just for DAs…

      • “If you ever get arrested, call a comedian.”
        Not a bad idea. You’ll have the same chance of success, but you’ll get a laugh either way. [zing]

      • The last time I got arrested I hired a lawyer. When I spoke with him he said it would be a simple case, make a motion to dismiss evidence, because it was the result of a illegal search, and the state would have no way to prove I did anything wrong. However when we got to court, I had to argue with him for 5 minutes, because for whatever reason he thought it would be a good idea for me to take the plea bargain. When he finally got the idea I wasnt going to be bullied in to taking a plea bargin, he told the assistant states attorney my choice, and the state dropped the charges. It made me wonder why I didnt go with a comedian and save $500.

  1. “Liberty” and “Justice”. THAT’S a GOOD one!!! All the liberty and justice you can afford to BUY.

    • The goverent should have a right to take your guns and you should have the right to stfu and take it.

      There ya go, in one line that’s what it says!

    • It’s a long letter supporting all the standard gun control measures you’re already aware of. There should be anything new I there for you if you’ve been keeping up.

      I’m a bit disappointed in the lack of constitutional understanding of these lawyers, one of the demographics you’d think would grasp it the most.

      To be fair I highly doubt they have support and speak for all 400,000 members. We need pro-2A lawyers to be outspoken against this.

  2. These are the same lawyers who ensure that felons stay free on our streets and oppose the death penalty.

  3. Hey ABA- Let me say this in simple terms that your ilk are used to hearing:


  4. This is why when lawyers die they’re buried six feet under because deep down they’re really nice people!

  5. I’m curious if the ABA had a vote of their 400,000 members to decide whether or not to send this letter. Any members of the ABA want to weigh in? Were you consulted?

    • I was not. I am drafting a letter resigning my membership tonight. I will also publish it on an attorney network, that I own, which has about 10,000 members. Finally, I will blast it out on every single listserv (about 30 of them) I belong to.

      The ABA has always been very politically correct, but closed lipped when it came to truly controversial social issues. They have sometimes taken positions on issues in which I may have disagreed. But, this is absolutely ridiculous.

    • my company dropped ABA membership because of the NLRB’s boneheaded moves. . . . . I am glad I am no longer a member.

  6. The ABA is one of the largest endorsements that the democrats get.

    Gun owners need to coin a new phrase, “The Democrat Party… an assault weapon on freedom.”

    • “Civilian Disarmament” is the perfect descriptor. The LE and military communities are citizens as well. Civilian is a term used to describe anyone not of these organizations.

      • As an active duty military officer (not a civillian) I am still subject to all proposed disarmament when walking the streets or in my home.
        Civillian peace officers are not the same community as military.
        We cannot accept a heriarchy that defines seperate classes of armed or unarmed.
        It is law abiding US Citizen disarmament.

  7. My favorite part: “The availability of assault weapons and high-capacity clips should be limited to the U.S. military, the National Guard and law enforcement.” Yes! Why should millions of civilians be allowed to have weapons suitable for the militia? Events like Katrina, the L.A. Riots and high police response time are no excuse to allow law abiding citizens to successfully defend themselves or their property. DHS may have said the AR-15 is suitable for personal defense, but they are mistaken. It is a weapon of mass murder, suitable for hip shooting, not a precision rifle used for well aimed fire like my Drill Sergeant told me. (/Sarc off)

  8. In the immortal words of Mark Twain, “first thing we should do is shoot all the lawyers.” Of course I’m not advocating violence, just that Mark Twain is funnier than me saying the lawyers can bite me.

    • I believe he also said…

      “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics”

      It applies to parts of this statement from the ABA as well

    • If Twain said that, he was shamelessly plagiarising Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s exact line ”The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” was stated by Dick the Butcher in ”Henry VI,” Part II, act IV, Scene II, Line 73. Dick the Butcher was a follower of the rebel Jack Cade, who thought that if he disturbed law and order, he could become king. Shakespeare meant it as a compliment to attorneys and judges who instill justice in society. However, it became popularized as an insult to the legal profession, despite its original intent.

  9. Quote: “The availability of assault weapons and high-capacity clips….”

    Anyone else chuckling about this?

    Didn’t know attorneys made up words, i.e; “assault weapons”…

    Surprised he or she didn’t say “scary black rifle”!

    And I have yet to see a “high-capacity clip”!!!


  10. “*seem* to occur with increasing frequency in our country”
    “military firearms”
    “weapons of war”
    -see what they did there?…

    A cabbie in Eastern Europe told me: “Never trust lawyers, priests and weathermen”.

    Except these lawyers are like a parade of dancing monkeys on a string….

      • Assuredly not. I am not a member–I never saw the point in paying several hundred dollars a year for a magazine subscription– but I have read of a recent establishment of a 2A committee whose original embers were decidedly pro 2A. The leadership in the ABA has historically been antithetical to guns, but they do not necessarily represent the views of the majority of their members. I know any number of attorneys who hunt and own handguns who would not approve of this message–which is why the membership was not consulted, no doubt. Another tyrannical organization.

  11. Like the media, education and the American Medical Association, the ABA is another group that’s effectively been “captured” by the left.

    • You would think.

      Also, you would think that a long standing member, like myself, would have run across that ABA page cited above. F’ing scary. They can FOAD.

    • You would think so, however Constitutional law is all about what the Supreme Court says, and not about what the Constitution actually says……Oh wait the Supreme Court has ruled on the 2nd Amendment never mind. In ConLaw courses the Constitution is not really used or cited, only the applicable SOCUS case. Other then to group cases under certain sections or amendments.

  12. I called the second number and voiced my opposition. I request that other TTAGers follow suit.

    No offense to Ralph, who I think is alright, but I really don’t like most lawyers. One of the last ones I met essentially wanted to blackmail me because I didn’t want to reduce a speeding ticket I wrote for 110 in a 65. That stop was also recorded and had audio, by the way.

    Come to think of it, I could tell a lot of stories about evil things lawyers have done, and have attempted.

    Since lawyers tend to be relatively wealthy and operate in courthouses protected by armed security, I doubt most of them are knowledgeable about self defense on the mean streets. Therefore, this opinion does not surprise me in the slightest. I’m alarmed, but not surprised.

    • Go talk to a family law attorney or a workers’ comp attorney. Many have been threatened, and more than a few have been shot or shot at. One of the early mass killings was a law office in San Franciso that was invaded by a man who lost a lawsuit and blamed the attorneys. He killed eight people, attorneys and staff both, before committing suicide. Husbands enraged by the loss of assets in a divorce have been known to enter court rooms, shooting at their exs, the ex’s attorney, the judge, and sometimes their own attorney. Attorneys are not usually attacked because of their wealth (those that have it) but because of their representation of the shooter’s adversaries. Happened in Phoenix just the other day, with three dead including the shooter.

      • To add one other thought: while it is much safer today in courtrooms where there is armed security and a metal detector at the door, the attorneys still have to get from their car to the courthouse. I remember a news film of an attorney trying to hide behind a three inch tree while being shot repeatedly. And there was the ADA killed yesterday in Texas in the parking lot of a small courthouse, apparently the victim of an Aryan Nation hit. I am in California, where most courthouses ban firearms and knives, even to CCW holders, disarming us when we are in transit.

    • One of the last ones I met essentially wanted to blackmail me

      Cry me a river. Are you saying the police never blackmail suspects? Tell them that if they don’t rat on someone, that they’ll be arrested or go to jail. And just wondering, but what illegal act did you commit which would have enabled him to blackmail you?

      Since lawyers tend to be relatively wealthy and operate in courthouses protected by armed security, I doubt most of them are knowledgeable about self defense on the mean streets

      Since police officers always wait for backup, to ensure overwhelming force is on their side, I doubt most of them are knowledgeable about self defense on the mean streets.

      Come to think of it, I could tell a lot of stories about evil things lawyers have done, and have attempted.

      Plenty of people can do the same about the police.

      • You guys are both being way too general. There are good cops and bad cops, good lawyers and bad lawyers, good gun owners and bad gun owners.

        • I stand corrected: most of the lawyers that I’ve met I would not trust. Most of the lawyers I’ve met have also been defense attorneys in LA county. Also, there have been more than a few attorneys I have stopped who implied that they could easily dismiss any enforcement action that I was considering. Arresting lawyers is another animal in and of itself – as is having their comments in video.

          There certainly are decent ones, I’m just greatly irritated that so much of our Congress are lawyers. Better, in my opinion, to have people with business, military, and other professions to round things out. Or perhaps folks who don’t scour history and law in attempts to circumvent the Constitution.

          That isn’t to say that police are perfect either, and that I have not seen police abuse their authority.

          To each their own. I’ll rescind my thoughts on lawyers being perfectly safe. Defendants definitely are out for payback from time to time, which was exactly what happened in my last attempted murder case.

        • Had a judge in Toledo, Ohio convict me of carrying a concealed firearm in a public park in 2005. The only problem was: I WAS LICENSED BY THE STATE TO DO THAT VERY THING!

          So much for “justice”. Judges are lawyers, and most all of them are incestuous whores in the same whorehouse.

  13. According to the ABA Model Code of Ethics, “An attorney shall not act in a manner which reflects badly on the profession.” I think Laura just blew it.

  14. The illegal gun running part does not apply to the Justice Department. For the ABA to take part in a political campaign agenda smacks of conflict of interest. That is just me. (This gotcha thing can be a little iffy).

  15. “American Bar Association Names Illinois Lawyer Laurel Bellows ”
    This explans it all, Bellows is from Illinois! We in SW Michigan would refer to her and other Illinois (Chicago mainly) residents, as FIPs’ – F%&#ing Illinois Pricks!!!

  16. Speaking of lawyers, did anyone else hear about the convicted murderer who was “accidentaly” set free? I heard it on the radio today. Apparently he was serving ten years for murder and weapons charges, was on trial recently for drug charges and somehow set free. Oh and by the way, of course this was in Chicago.

    I know there are good lawyers out there and some of you are here and I mean y’all no offense but the ABA can STFU. Time to fix the real problems.

  17. The muskets and single shot weapons of the 18th century have a GREAT DEAL IN COMMON WITH THE MILITARY-STYLE ASSAULT WEAPONS OF TODAY.

    The 2nd Ammendment was not added to protect the weapons of the 18th, nor to protect the rights of 18th century Americans.
    Anyone who does not understand this has either their own agenda, their head up their ass or both.

    Given the current high regard the ABA in particular and lawyers in general enjoy in this country today, this announcement may actually be beneficial.

    DEFENDING LIBERTY. Apparently not.

  18. “These are UNUSUALLY DANGEROUS WEAPONS, which the government may regulate under the Second Amendment and the Heller decision.”

    In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya: I do not think it means what you think it means.

  19. I say let them ban “high capacity clips” as long as i get to keep my normal capacity magazines…

  20. Classic example of a group who needs to point the finger back at themselves. Maybe if lawyers spent less time doing everything they can to put violent criminal clients back on the street and keep insane people out of institutions… oh well, they want to make money! Or maybe if law schools weren’t a-flurry of cocain customers fueling demand for gang violence….

    • Your comments are offensive to lawyers who have an ethical and fiduciary responsibility to protect the Constitutional rights of their clients, and is offenseive to the other amendments protecting liberty. The Constitution was written with the express intent that it is better that nine guilty men should go free than that one innocent man should suffer imprisonment or death–yet with all the rules, like the presumption of evidence, the right not testify against oneself, and so on and so forth, hundreds of people are wrongfully railroaded into pleas or convictions which are not supported by the evidence. Innocents are still convicted of murder and sentenced to death. So don’t spit on attorneys who protect your rights as best they can in criminal courts as they ae doing what their oath demands and the Constitution provides.

    • Hey, I don’t want them! They don’t take their shoes off at the door…

      Besides, the Boatman and I have a deal; I make sure my Horsemen use the bridge, and he doesn’t row any lawyers across the River Styx. We have standards ’round here…

  21. As a whole, I strongly oppose this resolution by the ABA, and like others, I question whether this is truly representative of their 400K members.

    When taken in parts, and I know I risk being tarred and feathered for even suggesting that the ABA got anything right, it’s a mixed bag of ideas that I don’t find objectionable, and stuff that has to be stopped in its tracks.

    Strengthen Background Check Requirements and the National Instant Check System

    I have no problem with extending NICS to all sales, IF
    * two private parties can execute a legal sale incorporating a NICS check, but without requiring the involvement of a third party (i.e. an FFL)
    * NICS resources are increased to appropriate levels to permit real-time processing of requests when all transactions are required to include a NICS check

    Stronger laws and enforcement are needed to prevent gun trafficking

    I’ve got no problem with this.

    The availability of assault weapons and high-capacity clips should be limited to the U.S. military, the National Guard and law enforcement

    No. Just… no.
    Also: Molon Labe. Yes, you, ABA. If you want to take them, send an ABA representative. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    Strengthen and fully implement the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)

    Didn’t anybody proofread this and realize that they needed to rename this section?

    Anyway… Better mental-health data in NICS? Agreed.

    Strengthen regulation of gun sales and transfers

    Starts off OK (well, at least for the first bullet point) and then rapidly devolves into an oppressive regime of burdensome and largely pointless requirements.

    To summarize:

    Some good ideas, but the ABA’s clearly unconstitutional stance on many issues pretty much invalidates the remainder. I suggest that Thomas Susman print this out on nice crisp paper, fold it until it’s all sharp edges, and stuff it in his OBSCENITY DELETED and then REALLY DISGUSTING OBSCENITY DELETED along with everyone who agrees with him.

    • Molon Labe. Yes, you, ABA. If you want to take them, send an ABA representative. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

      That’s just not ABA style. It would be more usual to file civil suits against you and use motions practice and discovery until you had to sell your weapons to pay your defense bills. It wouldn’t be intentional, of course. It would simply work out that way.

      • That’s very similar to the confiscation scheme that someone else wrote about recently. The idea was, if you were supposed to turn in your guns (that the gov’t knew you had, from registration) and didn’t do so, there wouldn’t be any of this Molon Labe shit. They wouldn’t come get them. They’d just issue a bench warrant. Then, the next time you had an interaction with law enforcement (speeding ticket, accident, taillight out, or they just ran your tag at a stoplight because they were bored), they could arrest you there, and then pick up your guns from your house at their leisure. No muss, no fuss.

        • Cop cars can be equipped with various LPRs (License Plate Readers) the number of which grows every day. (Cameras, computers, machine intelligence)

          They can scan over 100 plates per minute and run them for wants/warrants/expired/whatever while the police car sits on the side of the highway, and the copper does nothing. Except wait for the juiciest pop on the monitor.

          My locals have had them in limited deployment for 4+ years. The industry and Fatherland Security provides more every day.

        • It’s not just the cops that have those readers. I ran across a guy driving a beat-to-hell Chevy Cavalier at the Walmart gas station late one night. There were four funny looking sensors on his car, two on the left, two on the right. I was pretty sure they were plate readers, but I asked him what he did, if he didn’t mind telling me. He worked for a repo company.

          Trolling the Walmart parking lot seemed pretty genius to me. Much more likely to get a hit there than at the high-priced luxury mall just a couple miles up the road.

  22. Here’s one lawyer who never joined the ABA precisely because of the organization’s hard left slant.

    When the idiotic “musket argument” is invariably raised by a liberal, counter it with something along the lines of “Well, today does the first amendment apply to Television, radio, film, and the internet?”

    It leaves every liberal lawyer I’ve discussed the issue with speechless because they know instantly that their “musket” argument is groundless. TV, radio and the internet are today’s equivalent to 1789’s printing press and quill pen.

    • And that’s why I fscking LOVE it when someone tries to come at me with the musket argument. Oh, how sweet it is when they make it so easy…

  23. With the ABA coming out and stating an opinion like this, could one argue that ANY lawyer that is member already has a set belief against gun owners?


  24. FYI, the newly created (thanks in part to promotion by this blog) Second Amendment Bar Association (SABA) is diligently working on drafting its own position statement/petition. It goes without saying that SABA’s position is in start opposition to the ABA’s.

    Attorneys, paralegals and law students are encouraged to join by joining our forum. The group’s web site is now up and running at

    More to come!

  25. You say the Newtown massacre has “shaken our nation’s confidence that we can protect our nation’s children … from senseless gun violence”?

    Our nation DIDN’T EVEN F***ING TRY to protect schoolchildren from “senseless gun violence,” much less any other sort of violence that a lunatic might choose to aim at them. Instead, the federal government went out of its way to increase our children’s vulnerability. And now these pulsating sphincters think we’ll just nod and say “more, please” while they help our government crap all over our civil liberties and natural rights…and our children’s safety?

    With all due respect (none) to you and your association, Ms. Bellows, I suggest you go straight to the circle of hell that Dante prescribed specifically for you and your ilk.

    I was going to say more, but I guess I’d better stop now before I say something impolite.

  26. Ignorance is a disease, and these attorneys should concentrate of a class action suit on behalf of the victims of ignorance. The defendant would be anyone who thinks any law stops all future occurrences of crime. That would basically be most of the Democrats in Congress, The Administration, etc..
    The plaintiffs would be the law abiding American people who just want to live and not have their rights trampled by the ignorance of the Government.
    They would profit well from the suit, and it would keep them busy and away from writing worthless letters like this. I think they would have to also sue themselves, because it is a suit against ignorance..
    I wonder if the NRA’s lawyers will respond?

    We cannot give ONE inch. They will never stop. The power hungry will always seek control and attempt assure they cannot be challenged. Fucking Morons.

  27. Ignorance is a disease, and these attorneys should concentrate of a class action suit on behalf of the victims of ignorance. The defendant would be anyone who thinks any law stops all future occurrences of crime. That would basically be most of the Democrats in Congress, The Administration, etc..
    The plaintiffs would be the law abiding American people who just want to live and not have their rights trampled by the ignorance of the Government.
    They would profit well from the suit, and it would keep them busy and away from writing worthless letters like this. I think they would have to also sue themselves, because it is a suit against ignorance..
    I wonder if the NRA’s lawyers will respond?

    We cannot give ONE inch. They will never stop. The power hungry will always seek control and attempt assure they cannot be challenged.

  28. What a bunch of misstatements and outright misrepresentations!

    No wonder we hold lawyers, as a group, in such low regard. A shame.

  29. The entire letter is irritating but this part in particular really gets me angry.

    The expired 1994 federal assault weapons ban clearly reduced the incidence of assault weapons used in crime. In the five-year period (1990-1994) before enactment of the ban, assault weapons constituted 4.82 percent of the crime gun traces that ATF conducted nationwide. When the ban was in effect, these assault weapons made up only 1.61 percent of the guns ATF traced to crime– a drop of 66 percent from the pre-ban rate.

  30. Just one more reason why I, a licensed practicing attorney, did not and never will, joins these pompous a** hats. FOAD.

  31. Here’s the dirty secret: A huge chunk of the ABA’s membership is people in my position. I’m a partner in a medium-sized firm (~150 attorneys). My firm pays ABA dues for every attorney at the firm, and requires ABA membership as a condition of employment. I have gone to a succession of managing partners to pitch making ABA membership optional (let’s just say that gun-grabbing isn’t the only position the ABA promotes that pisses me off, and I’m far from alone among my partners), and I have met a stone wall each time. I’m encouraged to ignore the stuff that annoys me and just focus on the business development possibilities; you can imagine the drill. I’m also told, almost every time I try this, that every other major firm in our city and most major firms in most major cities in America have the identical policy: You want to keep your job, you need to be an ABA member.

    So I am relegated to calling them up and screaming at them periodically. Kind of like my relationship with my state legislature, in that respect. I can’t get rid of them, they don’t give a rat’s patoot what I think, and they’d cheerfully confiscate my possessions, family and life if they figured they could get away with it. Gutless bolshevik scum.

  32. I’ve got a few policies that the ABA could argue for
    that would gain them huge support:

    1) Any lawyer, DA or Judge accepting plea bargains
    on a gun crime committed by repeat offenders will be
    automatically disbarred.

    2) Any DA or judge must follow minimum sentencing
    times. Any DA or judge agreeing or giving probation
    in lieu of minimum prison time for violent gun crimes
    shall be immediately disbarred.

    3) The ABA will support policy to open lawyers, DAs and
    judges open to civil action if their actions result in the
    early release of a criminal who commits another gun crime.

    4) The ABA will support the removal of any legislation
    enacted by people who have little to no expertise and
    refuse expert testimony (a la Feinstein).

    5) The ABA will seek to condemn and push to prosecute
    any public servant or member of the media who violates
    gun laws (Gregory anyone?).

    And finally 6) the ABA will seek to condemn any organization
    that fails to report or openly lies about relevant data that
    will impact legislation. (Of course if this was done the ABA
    would have to immediately condemn and dissolve itself.)

  33. Does history repeat ? 1775 the British Army was ordered to get those American/Penn. long rifles (better than old Brown muskets) the government had . The point here governments never change! Why did the Americans have to have better guns… History tells us this started America…Will this be how it ENDS also… Liberty or SLAVERY … two roads ??? We hold these truths to be self-evident , that men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life,liberty,and the pursuit of happiness , (later on it says)whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the RIGHT of the PEOPLE to alter or ABOLISH it. NO MORE GUN CONTROL ( What part of that can you not understand???????????)

  34. You’d think that being a member of the ABA and a lawyer, they would do a bit of research into things they are willing to commit all their members to uphold. Spreading falsehood like this gem here:
    “Convicted felons, domestic violence abusers, persons who are dangerously mentally ill and potential terrorists can walk into any gun show or flea market, or click on their internet browser, and buy any weapon and unlimited supplies of ammunition with no background check and no questions asked.”

    Yes, in some states you can legally purchase a firearm without a background check. Though those transactions are PPT, in case you don’t know what PPT means, it means Private Party Transfers. If you walk into a gun show and walk up to a retailer at the gun show, your transaction is required by LAW to have a background check. Flea markets? Um, sorry flea markets cannot sell firearms. Internet sales? Yah, those firearms have to be sent to your FFL, in case you need a refresher on what does FFL means, it is Federal Firearm License. You cannot have a firearm dropped ship via UPS to your house unless you have a C&R license which only allows firearms of a predetermined age to be shipped. Unlimited amount of ammo!! OMG RUN! Run for your life!

    How do you know and how do you determine who is “dangerously mentally ill” and a “potential terrorist”? Please enlightened us. BTW, it’s already unlawful for a convicted felon and domestic violence abusers to own firearms. How come these laws aren’t stopping them from obtaining a firearm?

    All I want is one goddamn anti-2ndA to research and state logical non-bias information regarding why we as citizens cannot have certain types of firearms. So far all I have heard and read are all emotionally biased OPINIONS with ZERO factual basis. If you want to draw me to the dark side, stop demonizing us law abiding firearm owners and maybe we might agree to some of your points. I will not tolerate being classified as a mass murder based on the act of one misguided soul.

    ABA FOAD I hope your membership pummels.

  35. The ABA is an “establishment” organization that’s beholden to Washington. The ABA opposes a “loser pays” litigation system, which would put an end to all the extraneous litigation that tortures honest businesses and people all over the country. This position paper is part of the ABA’s quid pro quo for not enacting tort reform. Period.

    Kudos to me, I have never been a member of the ABA. Fortunately, it’s a voluntary bar and one need not join to practice law. If the ABA was a mandatory bar, I would rather have shined shoes for a living.

    • The ABA opposes a “loser pays” litigation system

      That’s everything anyone needs to know about the ABA, right there.

    • Exactly. Having conducted litigation in Sweden and in the US, the “loser pays” structure in Sweden effectively constrains nuisance tactics in litigation. The cost difference is staggering. That change, together with Germany-like constraints on prosecutorial discretion on the criminal side, was recommended long ago by Prof. Charles Wright in his excellent casebook. On the other hand, what would CyberSettle be if we had such a rule?

      • And then there is construction defect litigation, which usually involves a contract with an attorney’s fees clause. Loser pays–but it gets too expensive to fight if you are a defendant, as a result of which plaintiff’s attorneys are making bank, often time in cases of minimal merit that could have been resolved by the parties themselves much more cheaply. ADA litigation was like that until Congress changed the rules.

  36. This article has so many factual errors that the American Bar Association should be embarrassed.

    “These incidents [Mass murder events at Tuscon, Arizona; Aurora, Colorado; and Newtown, Connecticut] have in common military firearms …”
    The killer at Tucson, Arizona used the most popular handgun in the United States. It is not a standard issue handgun in the U.S. military.

    “The ABA continues to believe that our nation’s laws can be significantly strengthened by taking reasonable, common-sense steps … that would [not] unreasonably impinge on gun owner traditions and ordinary uses of firearms.”
    Countless citizens have owned and used all types of firearms — including all manner of semi-automatic rifles — for decades. Banning them impinges hugely on this tradition.

    “The firearms used in these recent massacres are weapons of war. They are weapons designed to kill the maximum number of people in the shortest period of time.”
    The scumbags who committed recent massacres used all manner of firearms, including handguns, shotguns, and semi-automatic rifles. More importantly, in the two recent massacres where the scumbag used a semi-automatic rifle, the rifles were NOT weapons of war. They certainly look similar to actual “weapons of war” but they were not weapons of war — such as fully automatic M16 rifles.

    These are just three egregious errors. There are more but the article is not worth considering with that many serious errors.

  37. The best misnomer regarding standard-cap mags I’ve heard is “jumbo-sized mega clips.”

    “The Shoulder Thing That Goes Up,” however, takes the cake.

  38. It just figures: Chicago. Many decades of service to Chicago. And the city just got worse? After joining Bellows & Bellows out of law school, she married the boss and built a highly visible career: From an online blurb: “Laurel Bellows is currently President of the American Bar Association…. Her many accolades include: Crain’s Chicago Business annual list of Power Players, one of 28 Power Lawyers in the city by Chicago Magazine, one of Chicago’s 100 Women of Influence in 1996 by Crain’s Chicago Business, ….. served on the Illinois Supreme Court Special Commission on the Administration of Justice and on the United States Senate Judicial Nominations Commission for the State of Illinois,…Past Chair of The Chicago Network…. .Bellows is highly regarded for her many contributions to the Chicago and National community. ” And in case you wondered, “Bellows has even taken her work for women to Capitol Hill. In 2009, she was instrumental in the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a federal bill that promotes equal pay for women. This year, Bellows is supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act, working with the Commission on Women to write legislation and lobby in Congress.”

  39. The ABA’s interpretation of Heller is… creative.

    It’s also interesting that they think our police need “weapons designed to kill the maximum number of people in the shortest period of time.”

  40. This is just ONE major reason I’ve never voluntarily been a member of this bogus organization. they claim to speak for lawyers and don’t even have a majority of the nation’s lawyers in the membership.

    • I wonder if there is even a majority of their members who agree with their policy position on this issue.

  41. First it was automatic (military), now they want to ban SEMIautomatic (civilian and police). I will not be reduced beyond the average cop (semiauto AR, regular mag in handgun, shotgun). F them.

  42. Further proof that many who study the law do so to find a way around it, and many who study the Constitution do so to learn its vulnerabilities. Obama and the ABA are both prime examples.

  43. I’m not surprised – a dead felon won’t need a lawyer… Guns eat into their main business (unless they create it, but that is a different story). And they’re lawyers so of course it wasn’t their client’s fault, it was THE GUN who did it…

  44. It’s been awhile since I checked the numbers but isn’t it true that all three branches of the federal gub’ment are composed of over 70% lawyers?

  45. ABA must be slacking on their continuing education. requirements:

    HELLER – “Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844, 849, 117 S.Ct. 2329, 138 L.Ed.2d 874 (1997), and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 35-36, 121 S.Ct. 2038, 150 L.Ed.2d 94 (2001), the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.”

  46. What was that Shakespeare said?…

    Of course lawyers are anti-2A…they know they’ll be the first ones shot if SHTF. 😉

  47. See, this is the sort of thing that has kept me from joining the ABA for the forty years I’ve practiced law. If you noted in my esteemed colleague’s remarks, the ABA represents “400,000 lawyers.” Well, that’s not a significant increase on just the lawyers in the state where I practice. And no, I’m sure the ABA didn’t take a vote of the membership before presenting that drivel. And yes, before I went to law school I put in plenty of time at the sharp end of the stick and all of my friends and I are gunners. Lumping “lawyers” with douchebags makes no more sense than lumping gun owners with crazies, and besides, when the crunch comes, we’re the ones who’ll be on the barricades. The Heller decision didn’t fall out the service entrance at the SCOTUS building.

  48. PSR: Yes, like THIS one! No offense taken though, I do understand your frustration.

  49. Well this only makes sense. If law abiding citizens are armed, there is less crime and fewer criminals to defend in court. How’s a poor lawyer to pay for his private jet?

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