The Law Center Community Remembers Long-Time Board Member and Friend, Dick Odgers

Posted on Monday, September 22nd, 2014
LCAV 19th Anniversary Dinner

The Law Center’s Legal Director Julie Leftwich presented Dick Odgers with his firm’s Pro Bono Award at our 19th Anniversary Dinner.

The Law Center community is deeply saddened by the passing of one of our most beloved founders and friends, Dick Odgers. Dick was a founder, a supporter, an insightful and generous friend, and a deliberate and thoughtful voice in any situation. We know this organization wouldn’t be where we are today without him.

Following the mass shooting in San Francisco in 1993 that led to the formation of the Law Center (then Legal Community Against Violence), Dick joined the effort as a member of the Steering Committee in 1994. He went on to serve as the third Chair of the Steering Committee in 1998, became the first Board President in 1999, and stayed on as an active board member for a total of 16 years.

He will be remembered as a model of grace and strength and for those who knew him, a person they aspired to emulate. Many members of our board of directors and staff expressed their sorrow at his passing and their gratitude for having known him.

“He was by far one of the best people that I have ever known.”

~ Robyn Thomas
Law Center Executive Director

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“I will greatly miss Dick’s brilliant legal mind, wry sense of humor, and gentle spirit.  It was an honor to have known him and worked with him for so many years.”

~ Julie Leftwich
Law Center Legal Director

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Graphic Design Internship

Posted on Monday, September 8th, 2014

Law Center's 20th Anniversary Dinner

Position Overview

The Graphic Design Intern provides support in the conception and execution of all of the organization’s print and web graphic design. Day to day responsibilities will include the practice of graphic design in formatting and creating elements to expand the organization’s brand and reputation by updating existing materials, creating new infographics and small publications, and distributing the work through print and web outlets. This position is a great opportunity for someone interested in a variety of design uses—from infographics and memes to print publishing—to enhance their portfolio while contributing to a just and meaningful cause. This position works with the Communications Director and the Communications Associate.

Key Tasks
o Assist in formatting and layout of publications and print materials
o Create infographics and images based on our data
o Assist in the design and execution of web and social media ad campaigns
o Support in expanding brand materials, including logos, packaging, and supplemental materials

Qualifications
o Excellent writing, verbal, analytical, and computer skills
o Strong design and typography skills
o Some knowledge of design for web, printing production, and prepress processes
o Keen attention to detail
o Entrepreneurial approach to working in an environment with limited resources
o Sense of Humor
o Personal laptop with the Adobe Creative Suite
o Experience in web design, WordPress, HTML, and CSS a plus

Reports to: Digital Communications & Design Manager

Compensation: This is an unpaid position; College credit available.

Hours: 10 – 20 hours/week, with flexible hours

How to Apply: Interested candidates should email résumé, portfolio, and cover letter to:

Paige Gildner
Digital Communications & Design Manager
[email protected]

Communications Internship

Posted on Monday, September 8th, 2014

Position Overview

The Communications Intern provides support in developing all of our organization’s communications, including through email and mailing outreach, social media engagement, and writing for web platforms. This position is a great opportunity for someone interested in learning about and utilizing a variety of communications styles – from tweets to blog posts – while contributing to a just and meaningful cause. This position works with the Director of Communications and the Digital Communications & Design Manager.

Key Tasks
o Research content for our social media platforms and write posts
o Assist in maintaining relationships with existing followers and developing new ones
o Support in tracking and analyzing the success of email, website, and social media content
o Assist in expanding media contacts through web research
o Assist with press releases and media outreach
o Participate in the research, development, and communication around our annual gala
o Research images and graphics which enhance our content and expand our brand
o Assist with proof reading publications, mailings, and email appeals

Qualifications
o Excellent writing, verbal, analytical, and computer skills
o Experience with social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and more
o Superb organizational skills and keen attention to detail
o Ability to work independently with minimal supervision
o Entrepreneurial approach to working in an environment with limited resources
o Sense of Humor
o Proficiency in the Microsoft Suite
o Experience in web design and WordPress a plus
o Experience with event planning and communications a plus

Reports to: Digital Communications & Design Manager

Compensation: This is an unpaid position; College credit available.

Hours: 10 – 20 hours/week, with flexible hours

How to Apply: Interested candidates should email résumé with a cover letter to:

Paige Gildner
Digital Communications & Design Manager
[email protected]

Arizona Firing Range Tragedy: The Law Center Calls for a Common Sense Approach to Children and Guns

Posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

By now, you have probably heard the news. Last week, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her shooting instructor while firing an Uzi at the Last Stop shooting range in White Hills, Arizona. In the public outcry that followed, the Law Center received many requests from the media about how a tragedy like this could even occur. Sadly, this was not an isolated incident. In 2008, a similar shooting occurred in Massachusetts when an 8-year-old boy lost his life while handling an Uzi at a gun show. 

The unfortunate reality is very few states have laws on the books prohibiting child access to powerful automatic weapons. These horrific incidents highlight the need for stronger laws that restrict easy access to firearms by children and cut down on accidental shootings. The problem is real: between 1999 and 2010, more than 8,300 Americans were killed by accidental gun fire and roughly 25% of those deaths were young people under the age of 21. Each year in America, over 16,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for unintentional gunshot wounds.

Despite these sobering numbers, far too many states, like Arizona, do not have any laws in place to keep guns out of the hands of small children. When it comes to the strength of its laws to reduce gun violence, the Law Center gives Arizona an “F.” Unfortunately, 24 other states currently receive the same failing grade. To learn more about weak gun laws in Arizona, visit our Arizona State Law Summary. To learn more about your state’s gun laws, visit Gun Laws by State.

Watch this CNN story on the Arizona tragedy and join the Law Center in calling for common sense laws that keep deadly automatic weapons out of the hands of our children. To learn more about kids and guns, visit our Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess Firearms Policy Summary and our Child Access Prevention Policy Summary.

2014 California Firearms Legislation: Important Gun Safety Bills on the Governor’s Desk

Posted on Monday, September 1st, 2014

CA State Capitol Building

The Law Center is tracking numerous gun violence prevention measures that have made their way through the California Legislature this year.  The Law Center supports four bills that are currently on the Governor’s desk to improve public safety, including AB 1014, which would create a new “Gun Violence Restraining Order” procedure.  The Governor has already signed two gun safety bills into law and four bills introduced to weaken the state’s gun laws were defeated in the legislature earlier this year.

The complete text of all California bills can be found at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.  For a full description of existing laws to reduce gun violence in California, visit our summary of California gun laws.

For more information on the status of bills in other states, visit our 2014 summary of gun bills nationwide.bills-signed-into-law

AB 1964 (Dickenson): Closing the “Single-Shot Exemption” Loophole –  California law requires that all semiautomatic handgun models sold in the state be certified as not unsafe by the Department of Justice after meeting certain required safety standards.  Prior law included an exception for so-called “single shot” pistols that could be temporarily modified to not fire on a semiautomatic basis in order to circumvent California’s safety standards.  AB 1964 closes that loophole by clarifying that the unsafe handgun law applies to semiautomatic pistols that have been temporarily or permanently altered so that they will not fire in a semiautomatic mode.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status: This bill was signed by the Governor on July 18, 2014.

AB 1591 (Archadjian):  Court Notifications – Under current law, courts are required to notify the California Department of Justice if they make a determination about a person’s mental state which would prohibit him or her from possessing a gun under California law.  AB 1591 will speed up this process by requiring such notifications to be made within one court day.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status: This bill was signed by the Governor on July 18, 2014.pending-legislation

AB 1014 (Skinner): Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) – This bill, which is modeled on California’s existing domestic violence restraining order laws, would establish a procedure to allow concerned family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court for a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). In situations where there is sufficient evidence for a judge to believe that an individual poses a danger to self or others, the GVRO would temporarily limit the individual from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and would allow law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in his or her possession. To avoid the potential for abuse of this new procedure, the bill would create penalties for anyone who files a petition intending to harass the named individual or knowing that any of the information provided in the petition is false.

Law Center Position:  Support

Status:  This bill passed the California Legislature on August 29, and is now on the Governor’s desk.

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District Court Strikes Down California’s 10-Day Waiting Period Requirement for Individuals Who Already Own a Firearm and Pass a Background Check

Posted on Thursday, August 28th, 2014

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In a disappointing decision, a district court judge ruled this week that California’s 10-day waiting period requirement for firearm purchases violates the Second Amendment, but only with respect to individuals who already own a gun and who also pass a background check before the 10-day period expires.  The case, Silvester v. Harris, was brought by several pro-gun organizations and individual California citizens who argued that the waiting period was unconstitutional as applied to them.  The court was careful to clarify that this was not a challenge to the 10-day waiting period in general, or to California’s background check requirement for all gun purchases.

In its decision, the court first acknowledged that “public safety and keeping firearms out of the hands of prohibited individuals are important interests.”  However, the court found that the state did not prove a “reasonable fit” between these interests and the 10-day waiting period with respect to individuals who already possess a firearm and pass a background check within 10 days.  The state provided three primary justifications for the waiting period requirement:  improving background checks, providing a cooling off period to reduce impulsive gun violence, and improving gun trafficking investigations.

As to background checks, the court dismissed as “unduly speculative” the state’s argument that a 10-day waiting period allows officials to address disqualifying information that may come to their attention before the period expires.  “Although additional disqualifying information may come to [the state’s attention],” the court wrote, “that can be said of any time-frame, but it 1 day or 60 days.”  With respect to cooling off periods, the court noted that “[t]here is no evidence that a ‘cooling off period,’…prevents impulsive acts of violence by individuals who already possess a firearm.”  In reaching this conclusion, the court discounted the social science evidence presented in support of waiting periods and the state’s argument that an individual may no longer have access to a gun just because it is listed in a database.  Finally, in addressing how the 10-day period may impact gun trafficking investigations, the court admitted that “it might be easier to intercept a weapon prior to delivery” with a 10-day waiting period, but was apparently satisfied that “this only occurs in about 15% of investigations.”

In his order, the judge gave the State of California 180 days to implement procedures that would comply with the decision, including releasing purchased firearms immediately to any individual who both passes a background check and is on record as already owning a firearm.  In reaching his decision, the judge appeared to place an unduly high burden on the state to prove the waiting period’s relationship to gun violence reduction—largely ignoring or discounting evidence that the 10-day waiting period prevents impulsive acts, enhances background checks, and improves investigations into illegal gun trafficking activity.  The state is likely to appeal the decision to the Federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where the Law Center plans to file an amicus brief in support of the waiting period requirement.

For more on the benefit of waiting period laws, see the Law Center’s Waiting Period Policy Summary.  For more on recent amicus briefs we’ve filed in the courts in support of common sense gun regulations, see our Second Amendment Amicus Briefs section.

District Court Strikes Down Washington, D.C. Ban on Public Carrying of Handguns

Posted on Monday, August 25th, 2014

Overlooking-DC

For many years, the District of Columbia prohibited individuals from carrying handguns in public in order to protect District residents and visitors from gun violence. On July 26, 2014, however, a trial court judge interpreted the Second Amendment to allow individuals to carry guns outside of the home, and struck down the District’s policy. The judge’s ruling in the case, Palmer v. District of Columbia, allows residents and non-residents alike to carry handguns1. Fortunately,The ruling has been stayed for 90 days to allow the District to appeal the decision, or institute a licensing scheme that regulates the carrying of guns in public.

By far the most litigated Second Amendment issue since the Supreme Court’s controversial 2008 decision in Heller v. District of Columbia—which found that law-abiding, responsible individuals have a right to own an operable handgun for self-defense in the home—is whether the Second Amendment also protects a right to carry a firearm outside the home.2  As the Palmer court recognized, the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on this issue3, while a significant number of lower courts have concluded that the Second Amendment only protects the right to possess a gun for self-defense in the home. Nonetheless, since Heller, emboldened gun-lobby groups and individual plaintiffs have brought an onslaught of cases challenging laws that regulate a person’s ability to carry a gun outside of the home.

As of 2012, the only two jurisdictions prohibiting the practice of possessing guns outside the home were Washington, D.C. and Illinois. Illinois’ law was struck down in 2012 on Second Amendment grounds by the Seventh Circuit in Moore v. Madigan.4  The Moore court made clear, however, that laws regulating the possession of guns outside the home are permissible and the court suggested that regulations granting law enforcement discretion to issue concealed carry permits would be constitutional.

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  1. 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101945. The Palmer court held that the District cannot prohibit non-residents from carrying firearms in the District solely because they are not District residents. The court reasoned that non-residents also have a Second Amendment right to carry guns outside the home for self-defense. However, in Peterson v. Martinez, 707 F.3d 1197, 1202 (10th Cir. 2013), the Tenth Circuit upheld Colorado’s law limiting concealed carry permits to Colorado residents. The court found the residency requirement to be constitutional and substantially related to the important government interest of protecting public safety. And in Dearth v. Holder, 641 F.3d 499, 500-501 (D.C. Cir. 2011), the District of Columbia Circuit Court also upheld a federal law requiring a gun purchaser to be a U.S. resident. []
  2. 554 U.S. 570, 626 (2008). []
  3. Without Supreme Court precedent on this issue, the Palmer decision relied heavily on a radical and extreme 2-1 decision by the Ninth Circuit in Peruta v. County of San Diego, 742 F.3d 1144 (9th Cir. 2014) [link to write up about Peruta]. In Peruta, a divided panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a San Diego policy requiring an applicant for a permit to carry a concealed firearm in public to demonstrate “good cause” to carry a firearm above and beyond a general desire for self-defense. The State of California has sought to intervene in the case and requested en banc review from a full Ninth Circuit panel of judges, which may result in the overturning of the original decision. Additionally, the Palmer court based its decision on Moore v. Madigan 708 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. Ill. 2013). []
  4. 708 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. Ill. 2013). []

Teixeira v. County of Alameda: Amicus Brief in Support of Ordinance Keeping Gun Dealers Away from Schools and Sensitive Areas

Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2014

9thcourt

Case information: Teixeira, et al. v. County of Alameda, et al., No. 13-17132 (9th Cir., amicus brief filed August 15, 2014)

At Issue: This case involves a constitutional challenge to an Alameda County, California ordinance which requires—among other things—firearms dealers be located at least 500 feet away from school zones, other gun dealers, and residential areas.  Plaintiffs, three individual California residents along with various pro-firearm organizations, argue that the ordinance violates the Second Amendment by making it overly difficult to sell guns in Alameda County, despite the fact that at least twenty dealers already operate in the area.  The district court upheld the ordinance as a constitutional regulation of the commercial sale of firearms, and plaintiffs are now appealing that decision in the Ninth Circuit.

The Law Center’s Brief: Our Ninth Circuit brief, joined by Youth ALIVE!, argues that that the Alameda County ordinance does not violate the Second Amendment as it is part of a historic tradition of regulating the commercial sale of firearms, which the U.S. Supreme Court has expressly recognized as “presumptively lawful.”  Moreover, the ordinance places no burden on the Second Amendment right to possess a handgun in the home for self-defense as the ordinance in no way prohibits firearms dealers or the purchase of firearms.  Finally, the brief argues that even under intermediate scrutiny—the level of judicial review overwhelming applied to Second Amendment claims—the ordinance is valid because it is reasonably related to Alameda County’s important interest of protecting public safety.

The Commonsense Gun Laws Partnership: A Collaboration Dedicated to Preventing Gun Violence

Posted on Friday, August 15th, 2014

ars-law-partnership

Earlier this year, we announced an exciting new partnership between the Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired combat veteran and NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. Together, we are committed to bringing some sanity to our nation’s gun laws.

With our more than 20 years of research and knowledge on the nation’s gun laws, and the powerful grassroots network cultivated by Americans for Responsible Solutions, together we are producing tools that will empower lawmakers and community members to stop gun violence before it happens.

The Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions will assist legislators by creating a series of toolkits that will aid in developing solutions to protect communities from gun violence while ensuring that the legislation complies with the Second Amendment. The toolkits on each topic will provide:

  • Evidence of the particular gap in current laws that perpetuate gun violence;
  • Effective, tested solutions to close the loophole;
  • Policy rationale for action;
  • Legal basis for new laws; and
  • Most importantly – straight-forward features of the policies that will guide legislative drafting.

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Victory in the Courts: Maryland’s Ban on Assault Weapons and Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines Upheld

Posted on Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

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In a victory for gun safety, a U.S. District Court on Tuesday, August 12 upheld all aspects of Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013.  The law, enacted in the wake of the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, prohibits certain assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines (“LCAMs”).  Plaintiffs in the case, individual gun owners as well as a number of pro-gun organizations, argued unsuccessfully that the Act violates the Second Amendment.  With its decision, the District Court in Kolbe v. O’Malley joins an ever-growing number of courts that have unanimously upheld laws around the country prohibiting dangerous, military-style assault weapons and LCAMs.

In reviewing the law, the court first asked whether assault weapons and LCAMs (magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds) fall within the scope of the Second Amendment, which does not protect “dangerous and unusual weapons,” but only those “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”  The court noted that assault weapons “represent no more than 3% of the current civilian gun stock, and ownership of those weapons is highly concentrated in less than 1% of the U.S. population.”  Moreover, assault weapons “are used disproportionately” in both mass shootings and attacks on law enforcement officers and “cause more injuries and more fatalities when they are used.”  Given this evidence, the court expressed its “serious[] doubts that the banned assault long guns are commonly possessed for lawful purposes” and was “inclined to find” that such weapons fall outside the Second Amendment as dangerous and unusual.

A final ruling on that question was not issued, however, because the court found the entire Act to easily survive constitutional review.  In holding that the Act only minimally burdens the Second Amendment, the court pointed out that the law “does not seriously impact a person’s ability to defend himself in the home…[i]n fact, the plaintiffs can point to no instance where assault weapons or LCAMs were used or useful in an instance of self-defense in Maryland.”  The court also noted persuasive evidence showing that “assault weapons have several military-style features which make them especially dangerous to law enforcement and civilians,” and that LCAMs are used disproportionately in mass shootings and in the killing of law enforcement officers.  Given these facts, the court concluded that the Act “substantially serves the government’s interest in protecting public safety, and it does so without significantly burdening” the Second Amendment right of “law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”

This case is part of an overall trend in courts across the nation, where the vast majority of challenges to common sense gun regulations are rejected.  In over 900 decisions tracked by the Law Center, approximately 96% of Second Amendment challenges were rejected—further proof that sensible firearm regulations are totally compatible with the Second Amendment.

For more, visit our overview of Maryland’s gun laws or read about limits on assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines in states across the country.