Lauren Boebert

Rep. Lauren Boebert

For years, gun rights activists have opposed new safety restrictions on firearms, arguing that the government needs to enforce the laws already on the books. A group of 20 House Republicans, led by Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, now wants to repeal several of the existing laws, including most of a bipartisan law passed in the wake of the 2022 mass shooting at a school in Texas.

On May 11, Boebert introduced the Shall Not Be Infringed Act, which would repeal every gun safety measure enacted between 2021 and 2022. In a press release announcing the introduction of the bill, Boebert notes that the bill has the support of the far-right organizations Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun Rights. The Southern Poverty Law Center has called the Gun Owners of America “a more radical alternative to the National Rifle Association.”

In the press release, Boebert says:

I unapologetically support the Second Amendment. No amount of gun control will ever eliminate evil in our society, and unsurprisingly, the data has shown time and again that gun control does not decrease gun violence. Just look at Chicago or New York, where gun control has created criminal safe havens since evildoers know their victims will be unarmed. It is ironic that the same people who are calling to defund the police also want to leave everyday Americans defenseless. I will always stand against this nonsense and stand for law-abiding Americans and the Constitution.

The bill would eliminate the bulk of the 2022 gun safety compromise law as well as provisions in an appropriations package, a Defense Department authorization law, and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.

In the aftermath of a May 2022 mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 elementary school kids and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old gunman, a bipartisan group of senators agreed on a small package of gun safety measures.

The lawmakers agreed to measures that would disarm people convicted of domestic abuse, fund implementation of red flag laws that would temporarily disarm those adjudicated to be a danger to themselves or others in states that voluntarily adopt them, and expand background checks for gun purchasers under age 21. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act passed by votes of 234-193 in the House and 65-33 in the Senate, and was signed into law by President Joe Biden in June 2022.

While key Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, supported the package, Boebert was among 193 House Republicans who opposed it. Of the 14 GOP representatives who voted for the bill, just five are still serving.

According to her press release, Boebert’s bill would eliminate enhanced background checks, lift the ban on gun ownership by domestic abusers who are not convicted of felonies, slash all funding for red flag law implementation, cut funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, eliminate safe storage requirements, and curb local law enforcement’s ability to enforce federal gun laws. It would also eliminate a law requiring criminal investigations for those who fail background checks.

Boebert’s co-sponsors so far are all Republicans, including Reps. Andy Biggs (AZ), Dan Bishop (NC), Josh Brecheen (OK), Eric Burlison (MO), Eli Crane (AZ), Warren Davidson (OH), Jeff Duncan (SC), Byron Donalds (FL), Paul Gosar (AZ), Diana Harshbarger (TN), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Mary Miller (IL), Alex Mooney (WV), Troy Nehls (TX), Ralph Norman (SC), Andrew Ogles (TN), Scott Perry (PA), Matt Rosendale (MT), and Randy Weber (TX).

Boebert filed a similar bill in July 2022, focused only on repealing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and picked up 35 co-sponsors before the end of the session.

Four months later, a gunman shot and killed five people and injured 17 more at Club Q, a gay nightclub in her home state of Colorado.

While it may pass in the House, the bill is unlikely to advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Republicans have already filed more than a dozen bills aimed at repealing gun safety laws and making it cheaper and easier to buy firearms.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 227 mass shootings in the United States in the first five and a half months of 2023, including a May 6 mass shooting at an Allen, Texas, shopping mall, where a white supremacist with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle killed eight people and injured seven.

Boebert and four other GOP lawmakers signed on to a bill earlier this year that would designate the AR-15 “the National Gun of the United States.”

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

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The Gun

The Guns

Gun violence is widely seen as an epidemic in the United States. According to the American Public Health Association, it is the leading cause of premature death in the country, resulting in nearly 40,000 deaths every year. While Congress struggles to pass laws to restrict access to firearms, two gun safety advocacy organizations, whose specialty is traditionally to lobby lawmakers to change gun laws, are trying a different approach to put the squeeze on the gun manufacturing industry.

Giffords, the group formed by former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords that works to stem gun violence, and March for Our Lives, the movement against gun violence created by young people in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, have launched a new effort this month aimed at recruiting law students to sign a pledge that they won’t represent the gun lobby.

The idea stems from the role that a handful of the biggest law firms in the country play in ongoing efforts to fight gun violence, according to David Pucino, Giffords’ deputy chief counsel. Law firms Kirkland & Ellis, Foley & Lardner, McGuireWoods, and Hunton Andrews Kurth and the legal arm of the National Rifle Association, among others, have fought in court against the stricter regulation of guns and have represented gun manufacturers in lawsuits filed against them over their role in mass shootings.

“[The issue of gun violence is] something that I think is pretty important to a lot of folks, but they don’t necessarily know how to action that, how to translate that into their work and their legal career,” Pucino told the American Independent Foundation. “And at the same time, there are these law firms that really take advantage of that, that represent some really reprehensible companies that have done some horrible things.”

Big law firms spend time and money recruiting law students to come work for them straight out of law school, often enticing them with glamorous perks, as an article on the website Balls and Strikes about law firms and the gun industry points out. They represent a wide variety of clients across all industries, but, as Pucino explained, they often omit their clients with ties to the gun lobby when recruiting law students, later assigning many of those young lawyers to represent those clients.

“There’s certainly the case that the legal system allows for and encourages for everyone to have representation, of course,” Pucino said. “But that fact doesn’t mean that anyone is entitled to your representation. And if your view is that you don’t want to support and aid and abet the gun violence epidemic, there needs to be an avenue for you to be able to express that and say that.”

To roll out the initiative, Giffords and March for Our Lives held events on the campuses of some of the country’s biggest law schools: UC Berkeley School of Law, Cardozo School of Law, CUNY School of Law, Vanderbilt Law School, and Yale Law School. But Pucino emphasized in an email to the American Independent Foundation that the event is “broad and national,” and both groups plan to hold similar events at other law schools when students reconvene in the fall.

At these events, organizers provide students with tools and prompts to use when they’re interviewing to work at law firms that may have ties to the gun industry, including asking whether they have gun industry clients or do any pro bono work representing the gun industry. If they do, prospective employees can make it clear that they have a personal conflict of interest representing such clients because of their opposition to gun violence.

“I think so much of what’s caught up in these issues is questions of power,” Pucino said. “If you’re a young lawyer at a giant law firm, you have so little power. But the moment when you do have that power is before you sign on the dotted line, before you say, I’m going to commit to go work at this place.”

Pucino said that the success of the effort will depend on convincing as many students as possible to sign the pledge. It’s easy for a big law firm to ignore that kind of gun safety dialogue from one prospective employee, he said, but if more law students looking to enter the workforce engage with recruiters in this way, firms might think twice about the kinds of clients they take on.

“So it’s not even necessarily, Don’t go work at this firm, but ask before you sign on: Would you force me to work on a gun case? Would you force me to represent somebody whose irresponsible actions have led to a mass shooting or other violent events?”

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.