At this year’s American Bar Association annual meeting in Boston, ABA President James R. Silkenat took the opportunity to tout the ABA’s Standing Committee on Gun Violence. The Standing Committee is one of the ABA’s advocacy wings, and is affiliated closely with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

“Part of our mission as an association is to defend liberty and deliver justice,” Silkenat said at the program, “Combatting Gun Violence: A Role for Lawyers and the Bar.” Someone “who cannot go to the laundromat, the movie theater or school, without fear for their safety, is not truly free—even if he or she can vote or have the right to legal counsel,” he said.

Other gun control advocates went on to trot out the recent death of James Brady as a boon to their argument for stricter background checks and waiting periods:

Opponents of gun regulations cite the inconvenience to potential gun buyers of waiting periods associated with background checks, said Jonathan Lowy, director of the legal advocacy project of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He noted that James Brady once said, from his wheelchair, “I guess I’m paying for their convenience.”

Lowy cited a well-known argument from the head of the National Rifle Association, that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” He noted that victims of the assassination attempt were protected with the guns of the Secret Service.

James Brady was the victim of a terrible act of political violence. He spent over three decades in a wheelchair because of his injuries, and lawyers and policymakers owe it to people like Brady to take care in their examination of the law.

There is a difference, however, between advocating for strong, constitutionally-sound policy, and using worst case scenarios to swindle the public into believing that the mere presence of a gun bodes ill for the safety of the American people:

Thomas Tape of the American College of Physicians discussed the public-health perspective of gun violence. He cited statistics that having a gun in the home substantially increases the risk of suicide and homicide in the home, discrediting the argument that a firearm can protect individuals and families from violence.

Totally discredited.

Utter nonsense, really.

The gun control advocates who presented at the ABA’s meeting are perfectly aware that what they’re doing has nothing to do with the Constitution. They’re playing a very tricky—and shameless—political game with our Constitutional rights, and are depending upon the knee jerk reactions of politicians and the media to give their arguments credibility.

[Harvard Law professor Laurence] Tribe noted that even though “the Constitution is not a suicide pact,” the court decisions do allow for certain gun regulations and that the real challenge for proponents of gun regulations is a political one—to get laws enacted.

“It’s not the Second Amendment that stands in the way” of reform,” said David Clark, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Gun Violence.

People like Tribe and Clark understand that the real end game for progressives isn’t necessarily less guns—it’s the ability to control with absolute certainty the culture surrounding personal responsibility, self-defense, and dependence on government. If “gun control” were really about guns, we wouldn’t see news stories about children being suspended for possession of a plastic Nerf gun; students wouldn’t end up suspended over the threat posed by a chewed-up Pop Tart; and we certainly wouldn’t see lawmakers encouraging young women to rely on delusive “safe zones” to avoid becoming victims of violent crime.

The ability of gun control advocates to push the envelope with regards to regulation has been well-matched by freedom-minded advocacy groups and lobbyists who understand that more gun control does not necessarily lead to less violent crime; but conservatives need to recognize that the ABA is helping the Brady Campaign and other organizations build a brain trust that they plan on using to change the game and dismantle not only the practical arguments for gun ownership, but the philosophical arguments against excessive government regulation.

Never underestimate the power of enthusiastic lawyers in large groups. They may just be our undoing.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.