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January 3, 2017

Pro Bono Lawyers Can Be Expensive

While we can be relieved that the candidate who promised to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) and pursue additional infringements on the Second Amendment will not be re-assuming residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the work of those who love liberty and our nation’s hunting and shooting sports traditions is truly never over.

You may have read recently about a group of well-heeled law firms announcing the formation of a coalition with gun control groups and proclaiming their readiness to file lawsuits or provide representation on a pro-bono basis in jurisdictions across the country where opportunities may present themselves. So far, it’s only been a small media event, but we can safely assume that such lawsuits will be filed, regardless of their merit or likelihood of eventual success. When this happens, we will hear that no one is challenging the Second Amendment, but rather seeking “common sense” solutions to prevent “gun violence,” or some other focus-group tested, publicly praiseworthy paean from the gun control songbook.

We have seen this play out very recently. NSSF and co-plaintiff City Arms East, LLC in December announced an agreement with the City of Pleasant Hill, Calif., to end a lawsuit challenging a 2013 ordinance that sought to impose burdensome and unlawful firearms and ammunition sales restrictions on local firearms retailers. As a result of the settlement, Pleasant Hill will pay $400,000 to cover legal fees incurred by NSSF and City Arms in bringing the suit.

We were successful in our goal to protect the ability of federally-licensed firearms retailers to open, operate and grow their businesses in the City of Pleasant Hill. As we predicted when the city council made its unfortunate decision to go forward with an ordinance, which only put into place duplicative regulation and did nothing to enhance public safety, it was very likely that taxpayers would be left paying the tab. For the city council’s unwarranted political decision to target law-abiding businesses, it and their pro-bono legal team left the city with a hefty bill.

We know from several cases from the recent past that elected municipal officials, their gun control group allies and like-minded lawyers will target manufacturers and retailers if they see a political advantage in doing so. This is, after all, far easier than attempting to solve the multi-casual nature of crime and violence in their cities. In other words, the political past is likely prologue.

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