Today, the Ninth Circuit agreed to rehear Peruta v. San Diego, a dangerous decision that struck down San Diego County’s application of the state’s “good cause” requirement for concealed carry permits. This very encouraging news comes on the heels of a string of recent court victories for smart gun laws, including decisions on a large capacity magazine ban in Sunnyvale and California’s Unsafe Handgun Act.
Peruta is an especially high-profile case that has the potential to influence gun policy across the country. At issue is whether requiring permit applicants to demonstrate a specific need to carry a loaded, hidden weapon in public violates the Second Amendment. The two-judge majority in Peruta struck down that requirement, but the decision was contrary to the rulings of several other circuit courts nationwide and, if allowed to stand, would seriously jeopardize public safety in California.
Today’s news demonstrates yet again that the gun lobby is on the run when it comes to Second Amendment litigation. These victories combined with last year’s landmark background checks ballot initiative in Washington State and the slew of smart gun laws being introduced in state legislatures across the countryshows that in spite of federal inaction, Americans are willing to fight for the sensible gun legislation that save lives.
The Law Center’s 22nd Anniversary dinner was a resounding success, bringing our community together, honoring our legacy, and raising much-needed funds to keep our top-notch attorneys fighting for smart gun laws across the country. The event was especially powerful in light of the tragic mass shooting in Charleston the night before, a topic our speakers addressed with reflection, thought-provoking analysis, and renewed commitment to solving the epidemic of gun violence that kills over 30,000 Americans every year.
In a groundbreaking national effort, last year Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer joined with New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. to found Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, an independent, nonpartisan coalition of prosecutors from major jurisdictions across the country.
As co-chairs of this bold new organization, Feuer and Vance have brought together a dedicated group of legal leaders devoted to finding prosecutorial and policy solutions to the crisis of gun violence in America. Prosecutors deal with the aftermath of gun violence every day—what’s so innovative about PAGV is that Feuer and Vance have found a way to channel this group’s unique skills and perspectives into preventing gun violence before it happens. For that, the Law Center is proud to honor Feuer and Vance with the 2015 Courageous Leadership Award at our 22nd Anniversary Dinner.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has long been one of California’s leading lawyers and lawmakers, serving on the LA city council and in the state legislature, where he worked closely with the Law Center to pass the smart gun laws that make California a model for the rest of the nation. Now, as LA’s chief prosecutor, Feuer has brought a disruptive, problem-solving focus to the office that combines tough and effective prosecution with initiatives to improve the quality of life throughout the city. He created a Gun Violence Prevention Unit in his office and has worked aggressively to keep firearms out the hands of criminals and children, prosecuting negligent parents who allow their kids access to guns.
Cyrus R. Vance Jr. became the District Attorney of New York County in 2010. In his five years as Manhattan’s top prosecutor, Vance has emerged as a national leader by expanding his office’s expertise on an array of 21st-century criminal issues, including gang violence, cybercrime, and the role of race in the criminal justice system. His strategic use of funds from sanctions against financial institutions has allowed his office to invest in transformative initiatives, including equipping every NYPD officer and patrol car with mobile devices and tablets, eliminating the national rape kit backlog, and reducing the number of individuals with behavioral health issues in the criminal justice system. An advocate of smart gun laws, Vance has doubled down on New York’s efforts to make it harder for illegal guns to be trafficked into America’s largest city.
Since the tragic loss of his son Daniel, one of 20 first-graders murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School along with six educators, Mark Barden has dedicated himself to uniting people to find sensible solutions to prevent future tragedies and spare other families the pain of losing a child to gun violence.
As Advocacy Director of Sandy Hook Promise, Barden leads policy and outreach efforts and frequently serves as a spokesperson for the organization. Barden’s belief that thoughtful, sincere dialogue will lead us to shared common ground set him on a path he never anticipated. His journey has taken him from speaking to a receptive audience at a Tea Party congressman’s town hall to introducing President Obama in the Rose Garden to meetings with over half of the United States Senate, media interviews on every major network, and speaking engagements before civic groups, religious groups, college audiences, and more, all focused on creating a safer future for our children and our communities.
The Law Center is proud to honor him with our 2015 Courageous Honoree Award at our 22nd Anniversary Dinner.
2015 RICHARD W. ODGERS PRO BONO PARTNER AWARD
We are honored to present Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP with the first ever Richard W. Odgers Pro Bono Partner Award for the firm’s exceptional volunteer efforts preparing a record number of amicus briefs in vital Second Amendment litigation, particularly in the area of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines.
Dick Odgers was a dearly beloved founder, supporter, and friend of the Law Center’s, serving as our first president, as well as an active board member for 16 years. In tribute to his remarkable legacy as an attorney and champion of public service, the Law Center has named our annual pro bono award in his memory.
2015 ANNIVERSARY DINNER SPONSORS
The Ron Conway Family, in honor of Gabby Giffords
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP
Morrison & Foerster LLP/The Morrison &
Hemming Morse LLP
Munger Tolles & Olson
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Bartko Zankel Bunzel & Miller
Alexis Coll-Very and Lance Very
Covington & Burling LLP
Farella Braun + Martel LLP
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Owen J. Clements and Linda Cronin
Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP
James T. Fousekis
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Gilardi & Co. LLC
Goodin, MacBride, Squeri & Day, LLP
Hanson Bridgett LLP
John Heisse and Karin Grace
The Herbst Foundation
Keker & Van Nest LLP
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Littler Mendelson PC
Mark L. Mosely
Murphy Pearson Bradley & Feeney
Nixon Peabody LLP
Richards | Watson | Gershon
Schiff Hardin LLP
Ben Cushman and George Tuttle Fund
Carlson, Calladine & Peterson LLP
Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
William I. and Iris Edlund
Susan and Sidney Goodwill
HBO Documentary Films
David and Linda Kapnick
Latham & Watkins LLP
National Gun Victims Action Council
Navigant Consulting, Inc.
Paul C. Pringle
Helen Hilton Raiser
Ropes & Gray LLP
Sacks, Ricketts & Case LLP
Megin Scully and Reed Minuth
Shartsis Friese LLP
Radha Stern and Gary Maxworthy
Turtle and Hughes, Inc.
Nina Vinik and Ross Bricker
Vaughn R. Walker
The Clorox Company
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
Carol M. Kingsley, in loving memory
of Jack Berman
Steven and Susan Machtinger
Rogers Joseph O’Donnell
David and Anita Roth
Somach Simmons & Dunn
Varlow Enterprises—207 Powell Street LLC
Amanda and Nick Wilcox
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Foundation
Maris and Judith Fravel
Don and Sheri Joseph
Green Barrel Wine Merchants
Prospect 772 Wine Company
Stony Hill Vineyard
Sunce Winery & Vineyard
ABOUT THE ANNIVERSARY DINNER
Each year, the Law Center’s Anniversary Dinner brings together our community to honor the exceptional efforts of a few key individuals for their outstanding leadership in the gun violence prevention movement. The dinner, with an audience of 500–700 attorneys, business professionals, lawmakers, and advocates from all over the country, is a truly unique opportunity to recognize the movement’s champions, celebrate the Law Center’s remarkable achievements, and support the fight for smart gun laws that save lives.
California leads the nation when it comes to smart gun laws, and the Law Center is proud to have played an essential role in the latest decision handed down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit upheld a California district court’s decision in Fyock v City of Sunnyvale, concerning a 2013 ballot measure that prohibited the possession of large-capacity magazines within the city limits of Sunnyvale, CA. Voters ushered in Measure C with a decisive 66% of the vote, yet the plaintiffs claimed local regulation of these deadly magazines infringed on their Second Amendment rights. The Ninth Circuit found little support for the NRA-backed plaintiffs’ argument that the law violates the Second Amendment, holding that Sunnyvale had presented sufficient evidence to show that the law would likely be found constitutional.
When the gun lobby hired expensive, high-profile Supreme Court litigators to try to overrule Sunnyvale’s voters, we countered by connecting the city with pro bono legal counsel from the highly respected law firm of Farella, Braun + Martel. We also filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit, outlining the many dangers of large capacity magazines (those that can hold more than 10 rounds), which make it easier for criminals to shoot more people more quickly, increasing the number of victims. These magazines are disproportionately used in mass shootings, like those in Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, and the 1993 massacre in San Francisco that led to the founding of the Law Center.
The Sunnyvale victory builds on the unprecedented momentum across the country for common sense guns laws that save lives. Just last week, a federal court upheld California’s groundbreaking Unsafe Handgun Act, which keeps junk guns off the market and requires the use of microstamping technology, making it easier for law enforcement to trace crime guns. The decision to uphold this important law will help encourage other states to follow suit. Historic progress is also being made in state legislatures, with 99 new smart gun laws passed in 37 states since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. But there’s still much work to be done, and the Law Center is ready to fight for the rights of communities to legislate their own safety. Join us in the fight against gun violence.
Chalk up another win for California’s common sense gun laws. Last week, US District Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled that the state’s groundbreaking Unsafe Handgun Act (“UHA”) is constitutional, a major victory for gun safety proponents. The UHA, originally passed in 1999, requires all handguns sold in the state to meet rigorous safety standards, which reduce the number of “junk guns” on the market. All new handguns must pass firing and drop testing, utilize a ”chamber load” indicator, and incorporate microstamping technology—a unique code imprinted on a casing when a handgun is fired, which helps law enforcement solve gun crimes.
A number of individual gun owners and pro-gun organizations filed the lawsuit in 2009, arguing that the UHA interfered with their right to own any handgun, regardless of quality. In her decision, Judge Mueller pointed out that the UHA merely “imposes conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” which the US Supreme Court specifically identified as a “presumptively lawful” regulation in its landmark Heller decision. With this in mind, Judge Mueller found that the UHA “does not adversely impact the access to and sale of firearms” and forcefully concluded that “[t]his degree of regulation is negligible and does not burden plaintiffs’ rights under the Second Amendment.”
Plaintiffs have already filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit, where the Law Center plans to file an amicus brief in support of the law. As Judge Mueller correctly found, the right to bear arms does not include the right to purchase poorly made, low-quality guns that do not meet common sense safety standards. We hope you’ll join us in the fight to defend the UHA, a key component of California’s intelligent approach to gun violence prevention. Smart gun laws like the UHA have helped decrease firearm homicide rates in California more than 64 percent since the mid-1990s, and positioned California as a model for other states when it comes to combating the public health crisis of gun violence in the United States.
A key component of the work our legal experts do here at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is tracking and analyzing firearms legislation in all 50 states. As the 2015 legislative cycle kicks into gear, we’ve noticed several patterns. Our biweekly Gun Law Trendwatch rounds up and analyzes the positive legislative trends (such as bills that are being considered in a handful of states to require background checks for private sales), negative legislative trends (like a spate of campus carry bills), and a roundup of bills on the move. We hope you find Trendwatch useful in your legislative efforts this year.
From left: Law Center board member and cofounder James Fousekis, former Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, legal director Julie Leftwich, and board president Steve Smith. Photo courtesy of the Berkeley Times.
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence was thrilled to honor retired California Assemblymember Nancy Skinner last Thursday evening. Friends and supporters gathered at the East Bay home of Law Center board member and co-founder James Fousekis, where Law Center legal director Julie Leftwich presented Skinner with an award for her years of work fighting for smart gun laws in the California state legislature.
Because of leaders like Skinner, and the efforts of the Law Center, California has some of the best gun laws in the country, earning at A- on our annual Gun Law State Scorecard. It also boasts one of the lowest gun death rates in the country, demonstrating the strong correlation between smart gun laws and reduced gun violence.
In 2014, Skinner introduced California’s landmark Gun Violence Restraining Order bill, which became law last October. The first of its kind, the GVRO law empowers families to petition the court to temporarily prohibit loved ones who pose a threat to themselves or others from possessing guns. The bill was introduced in response to last summer’s tragic shooting in Isla Vista—the shooter’s parents had warned law enforcement that their son was dangerous, but police had no legal means to prevent the shooter from purchasing the guns that would ultimately kill six and wound 13. Skinner’s GVRO law will help prevent future shootings like this from occurring, and is already being looked at as a model for states around the country.
This week, US Representative Carolyn McCarthy retired after 18 years in office. Congresswoman McCarthy was a tireless champion for smart gun laws throughout her career, sponsoring numerous bills to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, improve safety measures, and limit military-style weapons.
After the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, she introduced the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, which improved the national background check system in order to better prevent the dangerously mentally ill from purchasing firearms, saving untold lives. Unfortunately, there are still gaps in our background check system due to gun shows and other private sales, which Congresswoman McCarthy was an ardent supporter of fixing. (Learn more about how to close these gaps in our toolkit on background checks.)
Congresswoman McCarthy was herself affected by gun violence—her husband was killed and her son injured in the horrific shooting on the Long Island Railroad in 1993 that left six dead and 19 injured. In the aftermath of this tragedy, she began advocating for smarter gun laws, eventually winning a congressional seat in 1996.
We were proud to honor Congresswoman McCarthy at our Anniversary Dinner in 2012 (see a video of her speech here) for her years of courageous leadership to prevent gun violence. We are deeply grateful for her landmark work on this issue and inspired by her refusal to be bullied by the corporate gun lobby. All of us at the Law Center wish her the best of luck in her retirement, and we will continue to fight in her honor for smart gun laws that save lives.
Thank you to all our members and supporters for making 2014 a banner year for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence!
We were able to do more in 2014 than ever before, including tracking and analyzing 1600 firearms bills and 102 Second Amendment cases. We wrote the model law Washington State used as a guide for its historic background checks ballot initiative, worked with legislators to pass California’s landmark Gun Violence Restraining Order law, connected communities under attack from the gun lobby with pro bono legal support, filed eight amicus briefs in essential Second Amendment cases, and continued to provide support to legislators and advocates through our comprehensive reports on gun laws. Chief among those reports is our Annual Gun Law State Scorecard, which grades all 50 states on their gun laws.
With all this positive momentum, both for the Law Center and for the gun violence prevention movement, we fully expect 2015 to be another remarkable year in our fight to save lives from gun violence.
As the second anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary approaches, the Law Center is proud to release our 2014 Gun Law State Scorecard, grading each state on its gun laws and analyzing trends in gun legislation nationwide.
In the past two years, states have seen historic and unprecedented progress in adopting gun laws to help keep communities safe from gun violence. A total of 99 new laws strengthening gun regulations have passed in 37 states nationwide since December 12, 2012, and 10 states have made major overhauls to their gun laws. 2014 was a remarkable year for smart gun laws, with California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law, Washington State’s successful ballot initiative for universal background checks, and seven states adopting legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers, and look forward to building on this positive momentum in 2015.
The single biggest gap in our nation’s gun laws is the lack of a background check requirement when a gun is sold by an unlicensed individual. Unlike licensed gun dealers, unlicensed “private” sellers are not required to conduct background checks on gun purchasers. This gap allows thousands of dangerous people, including convicted felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill, to acquire guns every year, even though they are legally ineligible to possess them.
As part of our ongoing partnership, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Americans for Responsible Solutions have created the third in our series of Commonsense Solutions toolkits. These comprehensive resources for legislators and advocates explore the many facets of America’s gun violence epidemic through distinct lenses, such as domestic violence and mental health. Commonsense Solutions: State Laws to Expand Background Checks for Unlicensed Gun Sales addresses the private sale background check gap and provides detailed, real-world solutions for state legislators to pass universal background checks and save lives.