ABA Journal


Criminal Justice

ABA supports assault weapons bill introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Jan 24, 2013, 07:23 pm CST


"Feinstein displayed weapons..." If looks could kill... then this would be a totally approrpiate ban. Unfortunately, all an assault weapons ban does is ban changes that are largely cosmetic and have no impact on lethality. A folding stock is not made for mass murder, nor is a pistol grip, nor is a muzzle flash suppresor. Assault *rifles*, which are fully automatic (multiple bullets per trigger pull) military weapons, as opposed to semi-automatic (one bullet per trigger pull instead of muzzle-loaders or bolt action) military-style weapons, are and have been banned for decades. Camoflauge is also military-style, and has as much effect on lethality as those things that define "assault weapons" under Feinstein's laws.

By PALaw on 2013 01 24, 7:45 pm CST

we need to ban free speech on the internet. it is just as dangerous as an assult weapon. the founders had no idea that people like feinstine or the aba president could send out a message around the world instanteanously for everyone to see that could cause immediate world wide carngage. time to reign the first amendment back to what it was at the time of the musket.

By tim17 on 2013 01 24, 8:07 pm CST

Exactly the reason why I terminated my ABA membership many years ago. It has morphed into simply another political group which has diluted the original mission of advancing ethics, professionalism and educational development. Nearly all lawyers would agree on the original mission, but our profession becomes divided when the ABA weighs in on political issues.

By Small Town Lawyer on 2013 01 24, 8:18 pm CST

Sad when lies are used to make changes to the Bill of Rights.
The weapons and magazines in question have been available to the public since 1945 with no restrictions till the 1970s.

If Senator Feinstein and others want to use military style and intent as the reason for a ban, then all semi auto fire arms should be banned, and bolt actions which can hold more then one round.
The M1903 rifle with 6 rounds was made for multiple engagements, as was the M1911 pistol (8 rounds).

It is sad to think once again emotion and intimidation will be used to silence any logical discussions on what the desired end state is, or what the problem is in the first place.

The same techniques and tactics used in the past to keep slavery alive, lynching, imprison Americans in WW2 based on race, prevent people from voting. Welcome to Animal Farm.

By simon on 2013 01 24, 8:19 pm CST

I wonder if there are any other parts of the Bill of Rights of which the American Bar Association disapproves?

By Yankee on 2013 01 24, 8:48 pm CST

As an ABA member I am continually frustrated by the organization's desire to take stances on political issues. My understanding was that the ABA's own mission statement disclaims this role.

ABA, just stay on the sidelines. My fees aren't meant to support your political stances.

By qwerty on 2013 01 24, 8:53 pm CST

@6 I belong to two other bar associations other than the ABA and the annual ABA dues invoice is the biggest one of the three. Realizing that I am directly supporting political causes with which I strongly oppose makes it increasing tough to convince myself to re-up for another year.

By Yankee on 2013 01 24, 9:15 pm CST

Looks like it's time to cancel my ABA membership.

By Adam on 2013 01 24, 10:37 pm CST

A bill that would bar or regulate the sale of Bushmasters and high-capacity ammunition clips and drums isn't a political issue as much as a public health and safety issue.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 24, 11:33 pm CST

This is why I canceled my ABA membership. This horrible horrible organization has become more about being a wing of the Democratic Party than actually advocating for sensible change in the legal profession and to the law of the land. I guess it's more important to be chic than accurate.

PA Law #1 is absolutely correct.

By CJT on 2013 01 24, 11:44 pm CST

As far as the bill itself, some parts of it may be appropriate and needed, and after a quick review of the summary, I am most concerned only as to what the "safe storage" mandate for "grandfathered" weapons entails. Of course I do also recognize the correctness of the comments above that it is irrational to include weapons in the ban based on grips, folding stocks and other stylistic features that do not contribute to the lethality of the weapon.

As far as the ABA taking a position supporting the bill, I find that completely inappropriate. As I have mentioned before, in other instances of similar poor judgment on the part pf ABA officers, this is not why lawyers pay dues and not what they expect from an alleged "professional" legal association. The discussion on this bill is clearly going to be a very divisive one, and the association is going to lose still more members as a result of this stupidity. This kind of activity by association officers, purporting to speak for the entire membership, has long since rendered the ABA effectively a party adjunct of the Democratic Party, if not of the SPUSA. It is horrendously poor judgment, and in my opinion, actual incompetence as far as alleged service to the association or its members. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms, and urge members of Congress to ignore the ABA president's spurious claims to represent the views of the association's membership on this issue.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 25, 12:07 am CST

As an attorney, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution. How can the ABA support attacks on our freedoms?

I cancelled my ABA membership last night. They told me I had a few months left and I said I wanted it cancelled effective immediately because they support this ridiculous legislation.

Dangerous driers kill more people than firearms.

By MD Lawyer on 2013 01 25, 1:06 am CST

I was contemplating whether I would renew my expired ABA membership. Thank you, ABA, for making the decision easy; I want nothing further to do with the organization.

By Mark B, on 2013 01 25, 1:40 am CST

I love the sound of Conservatives sounds like...victory.

By Vic Sage on 2013 01 25, 2:00 am CST

I agree with the assault rifle ban.

I do not agree that the ABA should be weighing in on the issue. I would be upset if the ABA decided to oppose the ban.

If the ABA wanted to weigh in on the constitutionality of a proposed law, then I would support that decision. Otherwise, my 2nd Amendment loving friends should feel that they can be a member of this organization without undermining their own beliefs.

By Island Attorney on 2013 01 25, 2:04 am CST

ABA is a joke.

By Seth on 2013 01 25, 2:28 am CST

No. 9, it is disingenuous to state that banning certain types of firearms is not a political issue. It addresses public policy and one's interpretation of the Second Amendment. The ABA's original mission did not involve taking stands on legislation, unless it had a strong connection to attorney ethics, professionalism or education of attorneys. Those mundane goals have now taken a back seat to glamorous political issues.

By Small Town Lawyer on 2013 01 25, 4:51 am CST

so the tec 9 referred to as the ab10 is now illegal under her law.the ab 10 or( after ban 10) tec 9 specifically designed to comply with the 94 ban and was legal for the 10 years of the ban will now be illegal oh and not to mention under this flop of a law my ruger 10/22 with a 30 round mag of 22 CALIBER AMMO would be called a assault weapon.look up the ruger 10/22 gun haters and tell me what makes that a assault weapon seeing as how these so called weapons made for war would include a ruger 10/22 as a weapon of war thats never ever been in a battle or war situation since it was made as a YOUTH RIFLE over 50 years ago.also under this law after i die i cant transfer or decree most of my weapons or (high capacity) mags to mother'father'sister'brother'aunt'uncle'son'daughter.she says the purpose is to dry up the supply-so that after all gun owners die within 100 years the population will be essentially de-armed and the government will have no opposition.i could go on and on but when they say were not comin for ur guns all real gun owners know what kind of a lie that really is.look at new york and the 7 rounds thing.its designed specifically to ban almost all types of handguns-tell me gun grabbers since when did a 1911 pistol made in 1911 become a assault weapon when the term assault weapon didnt even exist in1911.the1911 pistol holds a minimum of 8 rounds now under the new york law a grandfathered 1911 is now illegal unless u get rid of the 8 round mag and now have a 1 shot 1911 pistol.most mag fed pistols hold more than six rounds-revolvers can hold 6 to 8 rounds so a single action 8 round revolver which is definitely not semi auto is illegal and this single action revolver requires u to physically move the bullet by hand to the breech would be a assault weapon-----WHAT A JOKE

By pokitisme on 2013 01 25, 8:15 am CST

It is unethical for an attorney to give advice when not qualified in the field. In addition to the various objections raised above, It is my considered opinion that ABA President Laurel Bellows is not qualified to publicly opine on weapons ownership, much less on the behalf of the ABA, of which I am still a member - but wonder exactly how long this will continue. I was admitted in 1969 and have watched the ABA take political stances that I have found to be not worthy of touching with a 10 foot pole. Is the ABA now a political organization? If so, count me out.

By blackjack on 2013 01 25, 9:18 am CST

I joined the ABA because I thought I should support professional activities. I will not rejoin. The practice of law needs a national organization that support the improvement of law. The ABA fails. I will not rejoin. Why would any lawyer join the ABA?
Why is the United States Department of Justice so supportive of the ABA? The only answer I can find is that the ABA is the gate keeper for the federal judiciary. So if you want to be a judge, join the ABA but otherwise, work with the state and local bar associations. They are often relevant.

By Linda on 2013 01 25, 9:56 am CST

Linda - unfortunately the Dept of Justice is too politicized which is reflective of the ABA today. Your response is intuitive.

By blackjack on 2013 01 25, 10:03 am CST

Big mistake, Laurel. This is not going to help the ABA. The old buffalos usually get it wrong but I did not think you were one of them.

By Norman Solberg on 2013 01 25, 11:07 am CST

The ABA can not possibly justify how this position advances the interest of lawyers. Now prospective clients who still read the second amendment will view my ABA affiliation as a disqualifier and I will lose business. The ABA leadership must realize our purpose is to represent lawyers and not jump on every liberal cause there is because its the right thing to do. ABA members should start by impeaching our leadership or resigning en masse.

By ZanyABA on 2013 01 25, 11:12 am CST

As to "assault rifles," I believe this is very mic political. How could you say other wise? Since the ban expired in 2004 Feinstein has tried to pass it on a state level 4 different times, it wasn't until this emotional based attack (the terrible school shooting) that she was and to gain approval. A "safety" ban would involve the banning of all of that type of firearm (all semi-automatic, bolt action, single fire, etc.), but instead she is pushing a ban that most people have no knowledge about. What I mean is, even the media was calling the AR-15 an automatic weapon, and that we should ban automatic weapons as well as other misinformation.they corrected themselves within a few days. My point is, I've yet to here a counter-argument explaining why we are only banning this imaginary group of semi-automatic rifles know as "assault rifles."

As to the ABA, what do they think their doing?

By Joshua Neuman on 2013 01 25, 11:25 am CST

@2 (the only of these I've read). Instead of "reigning in" the Second Amendment, it would be far more useful and help reduce gun carnage, to return the Second Amendment to how it was read prior to Justice Scalia's 2008 present to the IRA.

By Richard Hanson on 2013 01 25, 11:27 am CST

The ABA needs to represent all its members and the president in particular needs to reviewthe policy statement. I am disgusted with the continued regulation of the law abiding with no effect on criminal behavior. We as attorneys are obligated to ensure freedom and open government not the whims of a few.

By Ski on 2013 01 25, 11:28 am CST

I am surprised at the ABA. It is inappropriate that you are one sided in your representation of lawyers nationwide. Not everyone suscribes to the ban on guns. The second amendment is to protect us against tyranny. Why don't you support a bill regulating the suppression of hollywood movies and violent video games?? I would imagine you would never do anything to suppress the First Amendment. The only thing this organization should support is representing the legal field- all of it - and not submit to all the propaganda. We need to secure a free and open government any ban on second amendment rights is to the contrary.

By Janine Sarbak on 2013 01 25, 11:35 am CST

I thought the ABA was a professional legal organization. It now appears it is a political organization that espouses views that have not relevance to advancing the legal profession. My chances of future membership have hit zero percent.

By Chad on 2013 01 25, 11:44 am CST

This is NOT what the ABA should be doing. Political positions is inappropriate for a professional organization and the ABA should not be taking political positions. This type of "endorsement" makes me reconsider membership.

By Publius on 2013 01 25, 11:50 am CST

Support our profession and stay out of taking political positions on Constitutional issues. I may drop my membership unless retraction is made.

By Brian Petula on 2013 01 25, 11:56 am CST

As soon as i find other life insurance, i will end my long membership with the ABA. I continue to object to the notion that the ABA as an association of attorneys holding different political views and values should voice a single political position without first knowing what the members want.
Did the members vote?
The ABA apparently uses the substantial annual dues to act as a political action committee rather than the ABA I joined in the 80s.Too bad, the ABA was a good association until current ABA administration/governance assumed power. As a member, I see this as a hostile takeover of an association of attorneys.
Did anyone receive notice or was notice to the members eliminated by the current ABA as well?

By RWMMBAJD on 2013 01 25, 11:57 am CST

Never ever will the ABA see a dime of my money. Good riddance.

By Billy Bullets on 2013 01 25, 12:05 pm CST

I was extremely surprised to receive my Friday email from the ABA and see the article heading, "ABA supports assault weapons bill introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein." I actually had to read it a couple times to make sure I was not mistaken. In my opinion, I now view ABA as a politically charged organization as much as the NRA is. I held the ABA in very high esteem before this statement because they appeared neutral on political issues and reported facts. I now see them as an extension of the Democratic party. They might as well make a statement on abortion, gay marriage, etc since they have decided to take on such a politically charged issue and divide the ABA membership.

By John V. on 2013 01 25, 12:08 pm CST

I read this article and was expecting to be able to get into a good donnybrook with the usual anti gun nut cases that gloom onto such articles. Instead, I find that those who did respond actually understood how stupid the whole present anti-gun crusade is. WOW! Now I know why so many lawyers mock the ABA.

By Confused Newbie on 2013 01 25, 12:17 pm CST

I agree with 6... Why is the ABA taking a political stance?

By Oliver Tabuger on 2013 01 25, 12:27 pm CST

Ms. Bellows is yet another urban elitist who has never even held a wooden pistol; I suspect she has relatives who could have benefited from gun owner ship in 1933-45 in Europe, but, no, she does not catch a clue.

She's simply another drone member of the Chicago machine.

The fact is this country is far more repressive, tyrannical, and totalitarian than anything we revolted against the British for. As James Mason points out about His Majesty George III, “This man could have been called a lot of things but he couldn’t be called evil.” The American government, as a collective entity, is evil. Yet here we are, pretending we are free, defending our revolutionary heritage when all of the critical battles have already been fought and lost. If self-government means anything, we already lost it. If tyranny means anything other than “scary uniforms,” it’s already here.

By Jim G on 2013 01 25, 12:28 pm CST

This helped me decide not to renew my membership. Thanks.

By Sean P on 2013 01 25, 12:34 pm CST

Once again the ABA has stepped into a controversy needlessly.

By Macloophole on 2013 01 25, 12:41 pm CST

I do not support this proposed ban, and I am not happy that the ABA has taken this stance. That being said, I know that I can't always expect my so-called representatives to actually represent my views. I live in a place where my political views overall put me in the minority, which means that my Senators and Congressmen don't effectively represent me or my views on most issues and never have. I would prefer that the ABA not take political stances, but it has for decades, and I feel like I do get other benefits from my membership (insurance, some of the actual law-oriented publications) and so I'll keep chugging along as a member.

I do wish, however, that attorneys, who are supposed to be good at critical thinking and logical analysis, could figure out that bans on particular firearms mainly based on the fact that they look scary, and bans on magazines above a certain capacity, along with many of the other proposals, are not going to help anything.

By Lori in the South on 2013 01 25, 12:55 pm CST

Shame on you for using your bully pulpit on an issue that has only been waged for political opportunism.

By Boo on ABA on 2013 01 25, 1:15 pm CST

Well now, let's ban cars as drunks use cars to kill more people every year than wackos using assault weapons. Also, if we ban cars, then the wackos using assault weapons won't be able to get to the intended scenes of the crime. As we all know, its the "thing" that's the real problem.

Beam me up Scotty. There's no intelligent life forms on this planet.

Seriously, for ABA President Bellows to take this upon herself is simply incomprehensible. If she believes that her position allows her to act in such a defacto manner, then she simply needs to step down and let more rationale leadership fill the current void.

I live and practice in a rural area that is served only by the country sheriff. Response times start in 15 minute increments and go up from there depending on what else is going on in the county. If both the military and law enforcement believe that an AR-15 with a 30 round magazine is the preferred tool of choice for self-defense, preserving the life and the well-being of loved ones as well as self, and effectively responding to imminent, dangerous threats, that's a sufficient endorsement for me. If Joe Biden wants to use a double barrel shotgun, that's his choice. If there's a car-load of meth-heads coming down my driveway (big, big problem in our county) I going with the military and police choice.

As most of the above, I am cancelling my ABA membership today.

By Corvair66 on 2013 01 25, 1:17 pm CST

Yet another reason why I will never spend a penny on an ABA membership. Rather than coming out in support of a useless law that will have no impact on violent crime, the ABA should focus on the betterment of our profession. Statements like these show that the ABA has become nothing but a liberal political advocacy group and serves no valid purpose in improving the practice of law by lawyers.

By exradardan on 2013 01 25, 1:18 pm CST

SHAME, shame, shame on the ABA. This should be an apolitical organization. It is supposed to be an organization of ALL American lawyers, correct? But I guess this is no worse than the ABA's support of shipping legal jobs overseas.

By Sam on 2013 01 25, 1:23 pm CST

This article makes vividly clear that in order to protect the 2nd Amendment, we need to repeal the 19th.

By DirkJohanson on 2013 01 25, 1:25 pm CST

Does anyone still doubt that the ABA is an extreme leftist organization?

By BJJT on 2013 01 25, 1:29 pm CST

We do not pay dues to the ABA so it can act as another arm of the Democratic Party (akin to the AMA, AARP, Unions, Media, teachers/professors, etc.), especially when it takes a position not supported by +/- 50% of its members without input from its members and especially when its position arguably violates the 2nd Amendment. Our firm will be looking at whether we want to continue to support this apparently political organization. This is certainly not the role I envisioned for the ABA, and my dues should not be expended in furtherance of a politcal position with which I disagree. Disgusting!

By soprano on 2013 01 25, 1:30 pm CST

I am glad I held off on paying my dues. The ABA should recognize the importance of the 2nd amendment and should support it intelligently or not weigh in. I didn't get a chance to vote in The ABA's position so by that and also by reading the comments here I doubt that the ABA is advocating the position of its members. I totally agree with No.36! Our constituntion should be protected and the ABA taking any stance that does not support the protection of our freedoms is ridiculous.

By Not happy with the ABA on 2013 01 25, 1:35 pm CST

Time to cancel my ABA membership as well. As attorneys we have an obligation to the Constitution of the United States. Last time I checked, the Second Amendment still allowed citizens the right to bear arms. Now a "professional association" of attorneys is supporting the fight to destroy that right granted by our founding fathers. They would be rolling in their graves. Shame on you ABA. I sincerely hope other members drop the ABA as well.

By Gabrielle Thompson on 2013 01 25, 1:37 pm CST

Shameful. How long till Laurel Bellows political agenda is thrashing the other amendments in the name of the ABA? Membership:Cancelled

By Buckeye on 2013 01 25, 1:42 pm CST

I'm not a lawyer, nor an ABA member, but I am a gun owner. I and heartened by so many comments here from ABA members taking the organization to task for taking a political position that has no bearing whatsoever on the mission of the ABA.

By Dan da man on 2013 01 25, 1:52 pm CST

This is not the ABA's issue, any more than it's up to the ABA to call for censoring media coverage to discourage wing-nuts from acting out or banning violent video games that might make killing easier. That pesky Bill of Rights needs serious attention, and by gum, Ms. Bellows seems like the right person to fix it. Let me know when it's safe to come back thru the looking glass.

By Garrett on 2013 01 25, 1:54 pm CST

Do you know why I let my ABA membership lapse? Because they have ruined the profession by allowing false employment and salary numbers, accrediting additional schools that have graduated hundreds of thousands of unemployed debtors, and do not support the rule of law.

Don't worry ABA, I'll make sure that everyone I know is aware of where the ABA stands on the Constitutions, the rights of the people, and the rule of law.

By associate on 2013 01 25, 1:54 pm CST

“These particular weapons and clips were designed for killing large numbers of persons quickly; they have no other use in civilian hands,” That statement is wrong. The ABA should stay out of issues it's institutionally unqualified to opine on.

The AR platform rifle is the dominant gun in high-power competitive target shooting, including in the premiere target competition series in the U.S., the National Matches. Ironically, one of the specified banned guns even has "target" in its name. The "assault weapons" ban, if it's a good idea at all, is ridiculously overinclusive.

On the other hand, the ban is also ridiculously underinclusive. The Ruger Mini-14 Tactical that's on the bill's specified ban list is mechanically identical to the common Ruger Ranch Rifle (which would not be subject to the proposed ban as currently written), except that it has a different stock (which can easily be swapped with aftermarket parts).

Finally, the ban legislation is likely unconstitutional. The Supreme Court in Heller threw out D.C.'s ban on semiautomatic handguns in part because that type of pistol is in "common use." So are semiautomatic rifles - over 35% of rifle sales are of that type, with tens of millions in private hands. And according to FBI/BJS, rifles of ANY sort are used in less than 3% of murders - less often than baseball bats or bare hands, for that matter, so defenders of such legislation will also have difficulty overcoming even an intermediate scrutiny standard.

By KG1 on 2013 01 25, 1:55 pm CST

I am not going to remain a member of an organization that presumes to use my name in support of Senator Feinstein's assault on the individual liberties of law-abiding Americans.

By Soon-to-be-former ABA Member on 2013 01 25, 1:56 pm CST

Why more than a few of us did not remain dues paying members of the ABA. Good going Jim G # 36.
Besides the clear intent and purpose of the second Amendment (& it an' hunting wild animals),
the ABA speaking out about the clear wording of the 7th Amendment's guarantee of
jury trial for maters over "twenty dollars" (especially in the civil law federal courts).

By Why on 2013 01 25, 2:01 pm CST

By the way, why didn't the ABA come out in support of prosecuting David Gregory? The ABA wants these laws, but they don't want them enforced against good liberals, only us lowly citizens.

DO NOT support the ABA with your dues. What exactly does the ABA do besides work against everything that you've sworn to uphold?

By associate on 2013 01 25, 2:01 pm CST

Doesn't the Constitution require Congress to uphold the 2d Amendment? Doesn't this bill constitute an infringement? The President of the Bar should heed the example of her medical colleague in the AMA respecting Obamacare, who did her profession no honor. The key ingredient to a 'well regulated' militia is that they be well armed, not necessarily well led, or nationally led (indeed the contrary during time of peace), and there in parity with law enforcement at least, so that the citizenry may, when called out, assist authority and/or oppose unlawful action. Of course, contrary to the enthusiasts for abstracting plain meaning into conceptual nonsense, individually volunteering and coming self armed when called, is the krygma of militia - the national guard, an extrapolation of french origin, often going to conscription and government armament under an authority, like that of certain churches, presuming jurisdiction to require participation; an expansion from State and local institution to national organization; legally unwarranted, though practically feasible. Not our heritage or style, though going that way in kowtow to a growing authoritarianism in centralized governance. And a national guard, if that is what is 'called out' is the only jurisdiction of the Federal government respecting the role and activities of militia. Nowhere is there any authority vested in the United States for policing the keeping and bearing of arms by the citizenry in their private capacity,even given insurrection or invasion. Time to get back to the prudence of Miller, which only went so far as revenue out of interstate commerce permits. Get back to the rule of the Constitution, the rule of law, and there to passing a budget instead of obstructing the lawful exercise of fundamental right! Not so sure the criminal is the only threat to the welfare of our state. An ignorance of our prudent separations of power is no less dangerous.

By gdp on 2013 01 25, 2:06 pm CST

Yet another reason I am not a member of the ABA. You are supporting the destruction of a constitutional right and becoming a political activist? Does the ABA hope for some entitlement or grant out of this? Never will I support the ABA and I'm forwarding this to all my fellow professionals.

By Wesley Bray on 2013 01 25, 2:10 pm CST

Madam President: Under what authority did you issue a mandate from the ABA supporting the Feinstein weapons ban legislation. When did the ABA Board of Trustees or the Executive Committee, acting for the Board, meet to resolve such support. With 47 years as a practicing lawyer (now semi-retired) and former member of the ABA, the ABA needs to stay focused on matter affecting the legal profession and "defending liberty". This would include defending the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. You are showing yrour political colors.
Paul J. Marino, Esq

By PAUL J. MARINO, ESQ on 2013 01 25, 2:13 pm CST

We must immediately also ban all V8 engines in passenger cars. The V8 engine has way too much horsepower to be safe with an ordinary citizen behind the wheel. How can we possibly allow citizens to drive cars that will exceed the legal speed limit? We must protect people from themselves.

By Ban V8 Engines on 2013 01 25, 2:13 pm CST

I would have thought the ABA understood that increasing the number of bad, ineffective, and unenforceable laws decreases the resepct for our law in general. Rather than "advancing the rule of law," which is one of the ABA's stated objectives, the ban is a hasty, reactionary step taken in response to an emotionally-charged tragedy, but that sets a dangerous precedent impinging on Constitutional rights despite having been proven to be wholly ineffective the first time it was passed. Respect for the law would involve supporting laws that have a snowball's chance of being effective in combating the social evil they are targeted at, and that are passed after careful consideration of their intent, impact, unintended consequences, and impact on our liberties. And so my NRA membership gets renewed and my ABA membership does not.

By R. Haynes on 2013 01 25, 2:15 pm CST

and there goes my ABA membership. CANCELED.

By Jason on 2013 01 25, 2:15 pm CST

The legal profession exists to resolve disputes calmly and fairly. Guns exist to resolve disputes violently and unfairly. The ABA's stance is correct.

By NYS Courts ex wife on 2013 01 25, 2:20 pm CST

What, precisely, does a ban, based on cosmetics (camouflage), or functionally irrelevant features(collapsable stocks), or practically unimportant specifications ("high capacity" magazines, when multiple "low capacity" magazines which still hold more rounds than we sent grunts into combat with for their M-1 rifles . . . ask the Wehrmacht how that worked out for them . . . can be swapped out in less than two or three seconds) have to do with either (i) improving the quality of lawyers in America; (ii) improving the quality of the American bench; (iii) providing substantive support or advice to American lawyers to assist them in better serving their clients; (iv) providing advice or assistance to lawyers to guide them towards being better people practicing law; (v) offering lawyers advice or assistance in mastering the ever-increasing business challenges of practicing law; or, (vi) improving lawyers' and judges' understanding of their respective ethical obligations as participants in a system which is both necessary to a free society and yet potentially enormously harmful to that society if ethical standards are diluted or ignored? All of which is to say what in the Sam Hill does endorsing a legislative effort like this have to do with the reason for the ABA's existence? Is the ABA going to advocate next for "reasonable restrictions" on our First Amendment rights? How about "reasonable restrictions" on our rights not to have troops quartered on us during peacetime? Or maybe "reasonable restrictions" on our right to confront witnesses against us? The Enabling Act had a sunset clause of April 1, 1937. Remind me how that worked out, again?

By Countrylawyer on 2013 01 25, 2:20 pm CST

Good for all those who, fed up with the political injection of the ABA into every issue that arises, repudiate the sham and refuse to continue funding it. Is there any subject on which the ABA does feel it incumbent -- feel itself entitled -- to use its members dues in order to promote a particular position on the issue? Good riddance.

By Russ LaPeer on 2013 01 25, 2:23 pm CST

I see Federalist Society members have been busy on the comments board this morning.

By EsqinAustin on 2013 01 25, 2:23 pm CST

I fail to see how this political issue advances the legal profession in any way. Unless the ABA is just hoping to generate revenue for attorneys to either a)challenge the litigation or b) defend persons charged as criminals for owning such weapons?

By Jen on 2013 01 25, 2:26 pm CST

ABA has no business conveying to the public that the membership supports such a lobby. Membership cancelled.

By Jac Schuster on 2013 01 25, 2:27 pm CST

Does the ABA only represent liberal lawyers? The ABA is already struggling for relevancy and membership. Why take sides on an immensely controversial issue? To moderate the ABA's stance I recommend that it become a pro-life organization. I'm not holding my breath.

By Adam Holland on 2013 01 25, 2:27 pm CST

ABA has no business taking political positions. I have resigned my membership because it has become an arm of the liberal left and leaves no room for conservative views. Attorney Bellows, whom I have met, is a long time Chicago-land lawyer who apparently dances in lockstep with team Obama-Emanuel-Daly. Partisan and personal politics have no place in responsible leadership. I have served in leadership positions in the ABA, but cannot continue to be part of an intolerant unabashedly liberal political organization

By Jq public on 2013 01 25, 2:27 pm CST

I've been an ABA member for 25 years. I'm embarrassed that a group of LAWYERS would concede the 2nd Amendment so easily. I am cancelling my ABA membership immediately.

By John T. Klees on 2013 01 25, 2:28 pm CST

What's most interesting so far this is the almost total lack of support being voiced for President Bellows' endorsement of the Assault Weapons Ban.

Per #59, I am calling on the ABA to provide the membership with the exact process used to reach the decision to come out in favor of the ban. In particular, we deserve to know the exact steps involved in reaching the decision to endorse the ban; who was involved at each step of the process, the reasoning used and the decision reached at each step of the process to move forward to the next; and the exact outcome of the voting process (assuming that there was one) to formally endorse the ban.

Since this is such an important action on the part of the ABA wherein President Bellows allegedly speaks for the entire ABA membership,, then there should be complete transparency as to how the whole chain of events came to play out. If such information is not forthcoming, then this alone speaks volumes regarding the current leadship of this organization.

By Corvair66 on 2013 01 25, 2:29 pm CST

I'm not familiar with the size of the ABA hierarchy, but what is amazing to me is that not one person raised (or otherwise could persuade) ABA leadership that his might not be such a good idea. This demonstrates the ivory-tower cocoon within which the ABA leadership operate. Amazing.

By sorpano on 2013 01 25, 2:36 pm CST

I have been a member of the ABA for a long time, I intend to continue my membership because of my firm belief that one cannot change or reform any society from the outside. I am not aware that any ABA committee has studied Senator Feinstein's proposed legislation, nor that the governing body of the ABA has taken a position on the matter, however well or ill advised.

I do not wish to be offensively critical, but for our ABA President Laurel Bellows to speak for the ABA on this matter in this fashion is simply "popping off" and should be disregarded by serious people. It degrades any moral authority the ABA has, and surely must be outside the scope of its charter.

Full disclosure: yes, I am a member of the NRA also, and do not agree with everything that organization espouses. My second amendment views are to complex for this email.

By William C. Martin, III on 2013 01 25, 2:37 pm CST

Does anyone else doubt that ABA President Laurel Bellows read the entire bill and researched the constitionality of each provision before giving the endorsement of the most well known bar association. Can she even give the Association's endorsement without board approval?

By sgerardin on 2013 01 25, 2:40 pm CST

66 comments so far. Only 2 appear to support the ABA taking a position, and one merely a potshot. Most question the ABA taking a position rather than the position itself (the real question for THIS comment board, in my opinion.

If this is representative of the members' collective opinion on the two issues: (a) should the ABA take a position on gun control at all and (2) what should that position be, it appears that the ABA has failed to abide its purpose and does not represent its members. A survey is in order.

I would like to think that even those who support forms of gun control would oppose the ABA taking a position. It's on the edge on too many issues already (immigration being one). Is abortion next?

I also recall from my time as a committee chair that there are many hoops to jump through before one can announce an ABA position. How did thej president get clearance so quickly? Or did she?

As for the David Gregory thing (newsman/actor in Washington DC displays a gun clip which is illegal to possess, regardless of intent, in DC after the DC police told him he couldn't; mandatory 1 year jail if convicted), that should have been an article here for comment. The issues it presents show the flaws in laws regarding gun mechanics as well as mandatory sentences.

By Hadley V. Baxendale on 2013 01 25, 2:41 pm CST

I applaud the ABA for supporting legislation that seeks to protect lives and foster public safety. These are not political issues. What could be a more fundamental right that one's right to live. All the negative comments about the ABA's stand are totally lacking in any logical, reasonable basis for attacking efforts to control gun violence. The 2nd amendment does not give anyone the right to own, or use, any type of weapon of mass destruction.
So good riddance to all the cry babies who wish to disassociate themselves from the ABA.

By PJ malone on 2013 01 25, 2:41 pm CST

The ABA gets no more of my money. If this bill were just a renewal of the previous "assault weapons" ban I could probably stomach it. If it were just a ban on high capacity magazines I could probably stomach it. Feinstein's bill is an attack on numerous Constitutional provisions, starting with the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments. Liberals and Conservatives alike should fear the precedent. While I am a gun owner, I have never had any desire to join the NRA, until now; maybe I'll take the money I was sending to the ABA and send it to the NRA instead.

By TimT on 2013 01 25, 2:41 pm CST

After a decade of membership, I am done with the ABA, and am disappointed that the organization's leadership is so committed to ignoring the U.S. Constitution - which each of us took oaths to uphold.

Of course, we wise lawyers know that bans work - nobody can get meth, cocaine, or heroin in the US, right? And Prohibition was a roaring success.

The experience of the 20th-21st century is that more bans means greater violence and more deaths. But that violence primarily happens to unimportant people - like brown people in cities with ineffective police and women victims of stalkers - not important people protected by armed guards, like government functionaries and wealthy lawyers. So I must conclude that the ABA thinks that this is OK.

By Midwestern Lawyer on 2013 01 25, 2:42 pm CST

@77: I suppose as long as I make a reasonable effort towards some "legitimate" end, I'm immune from your disdain, even if my stated purpose is entirely different than where my efforts go.

By Oliver Tabuger on 2013 01 25, 2:45 pm CST


There are some reasons to doubt that an assault weapons ban woudl have a bif impact, but your counter argument is a prevalent one that is also profoundly ridiculous--so much so, I'm shocked to see a lawyer raising it.

We do regulate cars, quite heavily. You need registration to operate one, which comes with a state requirement for insurance coverage against damages you cause. The auto industry itself (inlcuding sellers) does not enjoy protection from lawsuit. You cannot drive on the sidewalk. You cannot drive a Formula One racecar on public roads. All in all, I'd suggest you drop that rather weak argument.

As to whether these weapons enjoy Second Amendment protection, I'd say it's about 50/50. Heller specifically says we can ban the M-16, which is nearly the same as the AR-15, the most important difference being that the AR-15 has been modified so that it cannot operate in fully automatic mode. Whether that distinction is enough for SCOTUS is a good question, but I'd say it's irresponsible to state as a categorical truth that these weapons cannot be banned as a Constitutional matter.

By Tim on 2013 01 25, 2:47 pm CST

To understand how I feel about this article and ABA President Laurel Bellows' support of the Assault Weapons Regulatory Act of 2013, please Google "mike gundy rant" and watch the video.

I will not be renewing my ABA dues next year.

By Common Sense on 2013 01 25, 2:50 pm CST

I guess if you read the purpose of the ABA broad enough you could take a position on just about anything. It would seem apprpriate to learn the facts instead of the hype before you take a position on issues so far from what the real purpose of the ABA has been and should be. Perhaps the President should explain the rational basis, a phrase she should be familiar with, that supports her opinion.

By Bob N. on 2013 01 25, 2:51 pm CST

@81: Where does Heller specifically say we can ban fully-automatic firearms?

By Oliver Tabuger on 2013 01 25, 2:54 pm CST

The ABA has no business wieghing in on this issue. I have supported this group with dues for 22 years, but I will cancel my membership immediately. I no longer wish to be associated with its liberal agenda. Further, I consider its use of membership dues for causes beyond the scope of its mission to be a breach of fiduciary duty. Goodbye, ABA.

By Bill on 2013 01 25, 2:54 pm CST

this is the kind of stuff that made me leave the ABA and not come back. The ABA should not speak for the whole group when the views expressed do not represent the group and if they want to include people on both sides of issues like this they need to not comment except as to things like constitutionality or potential impact of the law.

as to the merits of the law, they also need to ban more than one criminal from attempting to rob my home at one time, and also require criminals to stand still so I do not miss when I shoot them as they are breaking into my home. Also, they should require that, if a homeowner yells "TIME OUT," the criminals have to stand still while the homeowner reloads. Automatic weapons were not designed solely to kill multiple people quickly but were also designed to allow the less skilled user to "spray and pray" rather than have excellent marksmanship under pressure. 20 bullets fired quickly have a much stronger chance of finding and stopping their target than 9 bullets fired slowly.

Where on earth have such laws ever worked, in terms of reducing gun violence or gun deaths? Have these laws ever worked in terms of making it any harder for criminals to acquire certain types of weapons, or just made it so law abiding people don't acquire them? Are we following a successful approach here? If not, why am I not seeing any information about past successes of such laws. Connecticut, for example, had some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. Did those laws make a Sandyhook type of incident less likely to occur there?

These types of laws are just grandstanding so lawmakers can look and feel like they are "doing something" in response to a tragedy like Sandyhook. Those are not good reasons to enact laws. There will be another Sandyhook, no doubt, and another, and another. It is pretty much futile to make our schools safe against lunatic attacks. You can reduce the risk in various ways, but anyone bent on mayhem with any amount of intelligence can do a lot of harm and kill a lot of kids or adults. As technology progresses, the power of crazy individuals to cause harm and deaths will continue to go up exponentially.

All you can do is try to avoid sacrificing too much utility and freedom in the name of security and take sensible, reasonable measures to try to improve security while keeping utility and freedom as your paramount concerns. It is not because security doesn't matter, but rather because 100% security is unattainable, and utility and freedom are too much sacrificed in the futile effort to maximize security, while actually making only marginal, if any gains in secuirty, and simultaneously concentrating dangerous amounts of power in the hands of growing centralized governments.

When tragedies strike, you mourn the losses, try to learn what lessons you can, pick up the pieces, clean up the mess, and move on best you can. You don't delude yourself into thinking we can make the world safe by turning it into a police state.

By chasing away ABA members on 2013 01 25, 2:55 pm CST

I personally support the efforts to reinstate the assault weapons ban, restrict magazine capacity, crack down on illegal straw sales, and require background checks for all firearm sales. Polls show that these measures have the support of well over half of Americans, with over 90 percent supporting background checks for all sales. However, I strongly disagree with the ABA's decision to wade into divisive political issues like this that are not within the purview of the ABA's mission: "To serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession." This only serves to alienate those members who disagree and weakens the ABA's voice on issues on which is should speak.

By IndyCanary on 2013 01 25, 2:58 pm CST

I am canceling my membership and I want my dues back. This is ridiculous - this professional organization needs to stay out of politics unrelated to the profession.

By Texawaiian on 2013 01 25, 3:00 pm CST

Dear Laurel Bellows,

Your decision to support Feinstein's attack on the Second Amendment of the Constitution causes me great concern. Like many others, I will not be renewing my membership with the ABA. Moreover, I will be informing others who were considering joining the ABA of my decision and the reasons therefore.

By joshcvincent on 2013 01 25, 3:01 pm CST

Our article says Feinstein held up a "Bushmaster automatic rifle.' First, there is no such thing. Second, automatic weapons have been illegal to possess* for almost 100 years, under penalty of life/death prison terms. This error shows the most frightening part of the proposed laws--they are supported by people who clearly know nothing about the subject.

Solving the gun crime problem by focusing on how guns work is like solving the drunk driving problem by focusing on automatic v. stick shift transmissions. it is barely, marginally, relevant if at all.

I know guns; I own many guns; and I support some meaningful restrictions that would reduce gun crime. The problem is that the laws that have been proposed, in the past and now, are not meaningful and will not reduce crime. The previous "assault weapon" ban failed mainly because one can't define and restrict guns that one might believe are assault weapons. Anyone who knows guns, even if they hate guns, knows this. These laws are born out of sheer ignorance and willful disregard of facts.

Same goes for those who want to "close the gun show loophole." Most of them have never been to a gun show, much less know how it works. I have been to them; I know how it works; I'd like to see a law to close it without unreasonable restriction on legit private sales; I haven't seen such a law yet. "Don't try to describe a Kiss concert if you've never seen one" said Jimmy Buffet.

As long as lawmakers and opinion leaders propose solutions born out of hysterics and ignorance, we will never solve the serious problems of gun violence in America.

*automatics can be possessed with stringent and expensive licensing, but generally speaking, the public can't own them for either legal or practical reasons.

By Hadley V. Baxendale on 2013 01 25, 3:02 pm CST

I disagree completely with the ABA taking a position on this issue. I did not join the ABA to represent my stance on political issues or opine on the constitutionality of proposed legislation. I also disagree when my state bar engages in this type of activity. I plan to write a letter to Bellows, and I urge other like-minded attorneys to do the same.

By IA Attorney on 2013 01 25, 3:02 pm CST

From Heller:

"It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment ’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right."

It does not say that the operative distinction for allowing the banning is the fact that they are fully automatic--nor did I. But that is the important difference between the M-16 and the AR-15 and similar weapons. And if it's not the fact that M-16's are fully automatic, then it it absolutely true that weapons like the AR-15 do NOT enjoy Constitutional protection.

By Tim on 2013 01 25, 3:05 pm CST

Can you say, "overplayed their hand; misread the room?" Beyond the obvious reasons the ABA should not have weighed in on this issue, this is not a smart business/financial move on the ABA's part. I doubt they will get many new members as a result of this position, but apparently they are going to lose more than a few. Query whether there is a way to create an alternative association to the ABA similar to how the one organization sprung up in opposition to the liberal front known as AARP. Hmmmmm....

By soprano on 2013 01 25, 3:09 pm CST

Thanks for the dose of self righteous smugness this morning. People DO drive on sidewalks and kill people despite it being illegal. All in all, I'd suggest you lose the elitist, condescending attitude. And the Formula 1 analogy....ridiculous.

By Ban V8 Engines on 2013 01 25, 3:11 pm CST

While I am very encouraged by the disdain for the ABA taking political positions like this, there is an ultimate test waiting to come to fruition. This is the proverbial point where the rubber meets the road. I would be even more encouraged to find that ABA Members follow through on their comments by cancelling their membership immediately.

How enthralling it would be to see headlines in the coming days that the ABA has changed its stance on announcing political positions due to crippling loss of membership. That's the only way that your fervent and meaningful comments will have any effect.

If you believe what you say, CANCEL your membership NOW!

By PDinTN on 2013 01 25, 3:12 pm CST

@3 - exactly. An organization that is in charge of the country's legal standards, ethics and professionalism, a monopoly if you will, should not be taking sides on political issues, especially as one as controversial as this.

This is a bunch of crap. How does this even pass a constitutionality test? How can you be the reigning administrator of our entire country’s legal system, and maintain impartiality with support like this for liberal causes. So what’s the process for starting another legal organization that ‘accredits’ schools to teach the law? Because every state bar requires an ‘ABA’ accredited law school. How long before a Catholic law school, that doesn’t approve of Obama’s health care plan because of the contraception issue, has their ABA accreditation revoked?

By Cmentman on 2013 01 25, 3:15 pm CST

Yet again the ABA has taken a political position that furthers our profession not a whit. Are we supporting some group that is disenfranchised and needs us as their champion? Not at all. Are we sucking up to the left so that a few ABA titled leaders can hold court at the shrimp bar at cocktail parties-it appears so.

By jim delanis on 2013 01 25, 3:15 pm CST

I can't believe the ABA is endorsing this bill. I pay my dues here just like everyone else and I DO NOT endorse this ban and as a member I am very upset that my association would endorse a ban without my imput. The mission of the ABA is not to "endorse" legislation, one way or another. I will not renew my membership to this organization. As to the gun ban, Feinstein only wants to ban guns that "look" menacing. Those AR-10's are no different than my hunting rifle, except for the cosmetic appearance. Wonder what Bellows and Feinstien would say if we outlawed women's makeup? No mascara, no lipstick. Would that make their tongues any less useable?

By Mad in Oklahoma on 2013 01 25, 3:16 pm CST

I generally support the bill and believe it's facile to say, categorically, that all safety-related gun restrictions violate the second amendment (as many supposed lawyers in this thread are saying). That said, I'm in agreement with the majority here that this is not how the ABA should be spending its time or resources. As a rank-and-file ABA member, I don't recall being asked to vote on this. I agree with #15 that weighing in on the constitutionality would be appropriate (in which case the ABA should convene a working group of experts and prepare a report in the normal manner).

By Random Guy on 2013 01 25, 3:18 pm CST

I just called and cancelled my membership.

By RCV on 2013 01 25, 3:18 pm CST

I love the hypocrisy and elitism of Feinstein and her ilk. The peasants don't need guns but she gets to maintain her concealed weapon permit. Once again a problem arises and Feinstein seeks to respond with cosmetic legislation that will do nothing to address the cause of the problem. And since when does the ABA President have the arrogance and unmitigated gall to announce policy for all of its membership without any consultation whatsoever? Both of these ladies may urinate up a rope.

By Faulhaber on 2013 01 25, 3:20 pm CST

If you call 800-285-2221 to cancel your membership, you will receive some of your dues back. In addition, they will take down your reason for cancelling. Presumably, the message you leave will get to the current leadership and promote change. I just cancelled my 22 year membership. You can too.

By Bill on 2013 01 25, 3:20 pm CST

This type of activity is why I haven't been an ABA member for years. Feinstein's bill is crazy. Like a pistol grip is going to make a gun more dangerous. And then, you are not allowed to transfer you "assault weapon". Once you die, you forfeit it to the government. What are they going to do you if you don't? You are already dead. I hope Harry Reid lets the Senate vote on this. It will result in the first time the Senate has 100 republican senators.

By Haven't been an ABA Member for years on 2013 01 25, 3:23 pm CST

Please cancel my membership. The ABA has become nothing more than an arm of the liberal establshment in this country. If I wanted to join a union and have someone tell me how to think, I would have moved to the northeast and become an electrician.

By Par on 2013 01 25, 3:24 pm CST

I am an attorney, I have been a prosecutor, and I have served in the Army. Mrs. Bellows' article reveals such a deep ignorance of the Second Amendment (see e.g. District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025 (2010)) , and the entire Bill of Rights and concepts of civil liberties in general, and firearms in general, and this coming from the ABA President, I lost confidence in the ABA and immediately cancelled my membership.

As a young attorney, the partner I worked for taught me to both investigate the facts of the matter and research the applicable law of the cases we had. Here, Mrs. Bellows appears to have done neither.

To review, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." When you start banning this or that, first of all, there is infringement, and secondly, you start down a slippery slope, where the banning becomes the rule and the right becomes the exception.

Additionally, using even the rational basis analysis, these laws have no connection whatsoever to the effect they purport to have. For example, no assault rifles were used at Virginia Tech. In fact, very little crime is done with assault rifles. At Sandyhook, the shooter did not purchase any of the weapons used. Restricting sales of "assault rifles" would have no effect in such instances. These proposed laws make no sense, they have no practical value, and they have no rational basis, let alone the ability to pass intermediate or strict scrutiny.

A better approach to this issue might to be ask why we have the Second Amendment, and what purpose it serves (e.g. national defense, liberty, self-defense, etc), and then weigh those purposes against the proposed legislation. If y ou take this approach, you'll see that what we risk losing with this legislation far outweighs the vague alleged benefits of such legislation.

It is extremely disappointing that the ABA’s position on this issue seems to come from unexamined emotion rather than solid legal analysis.

By Mike on 2013 01 25, 3:27 pm CST

Well, I guess I can find something else to spend money on other than ABA dues next year. I'm glad my first year was free. I would hate to think that my dues contributed in any way to this shameful display. Why does the ABA have a position on something that is in no way in line with its mission? Does the ABA have a position on abortion that I should be aware of, as well?

By Land of Lincoln on 2013 01 25, 3:28 pm CST

So the ABA sees honest, law-abiding citizens as criminals if they own a semi-automatic rifle or handgun with a greater then 10 round mag. These firearms are not a problem, unless being citizens are viewed as a lower class and not to be trusted. Over 300 million firearms in the US and semi-auto rifles account for about 38 deaths a year or .00000012%. There are over 800,000 police officers in the US who have access to semi-auto rifles and handguns and one just killed his family in Las Vegas. Just this one officer, .0000012% of the police, ranks police more dangerous then the law-abiding citizens, maybe a ban on police too. These numbers are very, very small.
Compared to drunk drivers that kill 10,000 people a year out of 300 million people in the US, I'm more worried about driving my car on our roads.
Lawyers shouldn't be taking sides unless it's in a courtroom using facts and not political propaganda.

By Smokyrider on 2013 01 25, 3:29 pm CST

@103: Considering a ban on assault weapons enjoys over half support in the nation, you comment is ill-informed, at best.

By EsqinAustin on 2013 01 25, 3:30 pm CST

@92: That does not say that it is Constitutional to ban full-auto. It simply rejects the argument that because some things currently are banned, all things can be banned.

Where in Heller does it SPECIFICALLY say, "It is Consitutional to ban full-auto."

Sure, it might be "startling" to think that a full-auto ban could be unconstitutional, but that doesn't mean it is Constitutional to ban them. That question was not before the Court, and like it always does, limited its opinion to the issue before it.

By Oliver Tabuger on 2013 01 25, 3:30 pm CST

I guess the ABA Board and/or Assembly has decided that pursuing liberal political causes is more important than representing all attorneys and expanding legal service availabilty to the poor. This will make renewing my ABA membership very difficult.

By Don Tracy on 2013 01 25, 3:31 pm CST

And I'm talking about full-auto because, as you said, if that is not the distinction we are making, then there isn't really a distinction.

By Oliver Tabuger on 2013 01 25, 3:31 pm CST

I don't recall there being a vote so why is a membership organization taking a stand on behalf of its members that they can't validate is what their members believe?

No one reading this will see it any different than the collective organization agrees with this, which it does not. Likely just the folks at the central office talking to each other about their personal views; what does this law specifically have to do with the mission of the ABA?

More importantly, why does the ABA have to take a stand on this bill as opposed to all the others they stay silent on? Political grandstanding without a point.

Hey Bellows, try working on finding new lawyers jobs and bettering the legal community and get out of the echo chamber of your own head that you can arbitrarily speak for the masses.

By Jasper on 2013 01 25, 3:35 pm CST

Does anyone else see the fruitlessness of this type of law? Will a criminal obey one aspect of the law while ignoring all others? It's like saying "I'm going to rob the bank, but I'm not going to speed on the way there." It's disappointing Congress is ignoring the real problem, which is mental health. This is another example of bad law stemming from legislating on the margins.

By IA Attorney on 2013 01 25, 3:35 pm CST

@ 95
I did indeed cancel my membership this morning and told them the prorated remainder of my dues may be sent to the address they have on file. It will take 4-6 weeks to get my money back but the cancellation of membership is effective immediately. I encourage others to do the same.

By Gabrielle Thompson on 2013 01 25, 3:35 pm CST

What do assault weapons have to do with our freedoms? They have no functional utility in day to day life. Unless you are a criminal they are just extraordinarily dangerous toys. Banning them is no different than banning fireworks, except that a ban of assault weapons makes more sense..

By Jerry on 2013 01 25, 3:35 pm CST

For 21 years, I've held my nose and paid my ABA dues. But as Felix Frankfurter noted, wisdom too often never comes. So I'm not going to reject it merely because it came late. I will not be renewing my ABA membership.

By Joe Lawyer... on 2013 01 25, 3:37 pm CST

@115, Amendments 2-8 have no functional utility in our day to day life either. Let's scrap 'em. Arguably the first doesn't either.

By Oliver Tabuger on 2013 01 25, 3:38 pm CST

ABA will get not one more dime from me. Seems that most of the posts above harbor the same feeling. I hope that those are not mere threats of revoking funding to this waste of an organization but that people will actually "speak with their dollar". As for any other benefits from membership like insurance, discounts, etc. I have found the offers from ABA to be MORE expensive. That may be just the things that I have researched for my personal needs, but I find that I get zero value from the ABA and will gladly leave this organization that has long ago left it's members.

By silllyrabbit on 2013 01 25, 3:40 pm CST

What a ridiculous move. Makes me glad I dropped my ABA membership years ago. Shameful.

By Enoch Root on 2013 01 25, 3:42 pm CST

108 - It's you who don't know the facts. Harry Reid won't even permit a vote on this because he has too many Democratic senators who won't vote for it. You really should read the news sometimes - it can be very informative! Also, your crack in your earlier comment about the Federalist society not only shows your fringe left bona fides, but your lack of caring abouit our constitutional freedoms. Scary that someone with those views serves as an officer of an American court.

By Been there, done that on 2013 01 25, 3:45 pm CST

It is easy to cancel your membership like I just did. Call 800-285-2221. You will receive a partial refund for the unused portion of your membership.

Weighing in on controversial political issues is not the stated purpose of the ABA. I think the rank and file membership has looked the other way for too long on this kind of stuff. I'm done with this organization.

By Now Former ABA Member on 2013 01 25, 3:46 pm CST

@120: "You really should read the news sometimes - it can be very informative! "

Are you an attorney? Your analytically skills seem lacking if you confuse the fact that *some* of the Democratic Senators coming from conservative states would result in "100 Republican Senators" if Reid allowed a vote on this legislation.

I assure you - the nature of my job requires I be familiar with current events. Might I suggest you do the same and save your sophomoric remarks?

" Scary that someone with those views serves as an officer of an American court."

I was going to say the same about you, Bub.

By EsqinAustin on 2013 01 25, 3:49 pm CST


The issue of what guns could be banned was not asked in Heller, yet Scalia opined on the point. He said some guns coudl be banned. The question is what characteristics allows that.

Some would say rarity. In fact, Scalia says that's a factor. I find this interesting, because Scalia is normally a huge opponent of normative-based Constitutional rights, and yet here he is defining one that way.

The reason the AR-15 and similar weapons are not uncommon is that some states' laws say you can own them, and some do not. The result is that state law rights transmogrify, in Scalia's analysis, into Second Amendment ones. Were this to happen with gay rights, for example, Scalia would be appalled.

Interestingly, the rarity argument might lead one to conclude that the very weapons that the Founders did intend to be covered--rifled muskets--are no longer protected becaase they are rare.

By Tim on 2013 01 25, 3:51 pm CST

Yawn! Yet another stupid, "liberal left" stand by the ABA. This is news?

By Vastly Amused on 2013 01 25, 3:52 pm CST

It's interesting to see how muchthe NRA and ABA overlap in the Venn diagram.

The Heller decision is a mess. For a textualist, how is it OK to ignore the "well regulated militia" part? I understand that we get to ignore the history of the amendment - that it's all about not allowing the federal gov't to disband the state militias - because it's so darn inconvenient. (Along with the Big War where the guys in blue kicked butt on the guys in gray, but we still argue that states have rights.)

Why is it OK to regulate some weapons and not others? Automagic weapons and sawed-off shotguns have been contitutionally regulated for decades. Ditto hand grenades. If it's just an exercise in line drawing, where does SCOTUS draw the line? Why can I buy a Bushmaster as my new toy to play weekend fantasy soldier, but not a short shotgun to pretend to be Mad Max?

Obviously, the second amendment hs nothing to do with militias, and certainly nothing about regulating them, well or not.

If there is a fundamental right to own military-style hardware, I want my own thermonuclear device. I don't need a big one, just a kiloton or two. It would make me happy to have it in my garage. I promise to use it responsibly.

By I Wanna Bomb on 2013 01 25, 3:53 pm CST

This is political activism that the ABA should be keeping its nose out of. I am very disappointed with this public stance, especially without polling its members.

By Michael J. Listner on 2013 01 25, 3:54 pm CST

I'm now embarassed to be a member of the ABA. Why certain persons in leadership see the need or the right to step in on one side of a political issue is beyond me. What's worse, a large association of lawyers is supporting an agenda to ignore our Constitution? Embarassing. Will not be renewing.

By DFWBuff on 2013 01 25, 3:55 pm CST

We advocate for our clients. We have clients on boths sides of the issue and have to advocate our client's interest. We as a group should not be endorsing legislation. I will terminate my membership.

By MATT on 2013 01 25, 3:57 pm CST

I just cancelled my membership. It is my opinion that Laurel Bellows owes each and every member an apology. Whether you agree with the proposed Feinstein legislation or not, membership in the ABA should be apolitical. I was looking forward to attending the international meeting in Washington, DC this Spring and learning from superbly qualified colleagues. I pay dues for the opportunity to advance the professionalism and education of the profession of law. I did not pay dues to be a bullhorn for the far left of the Democrat party. Shame on you, Laurel. You and the other officers have weakened the Association by once again jumping into the political fray in some attempt to appear relevant.

By Clay B. on 2013 01 25, 3:57 pm CST

The Bill of Rights is the Bill of Rights and I don't think some rights listed therein are more important than others. I am, however, astounded by the faux outrage displayed by some so-called "Second Amendment" advocates who see the right to bear arms as not only sacrosanct, but out of reach of any reasonable regulations even in the face of the carnage caused by gun violence. When the Patriot Act literally threw the First and Fourth Amendments into the dustbin, I did not see or hear the outrage from the so-called protectors of the Bill of Rights. As to the ABA president taking a stance on the recent gun debate, I don't see anything "political" about it. If discussing the policy and legal implications of the recently proposed gun regulations is "political", then I don't see how anything else the ABA discusses cannot be political. Discussing the Second Amendment and the policy questions it raises is a legal question. Those who see politics in it willl see politics in anything. Finally, to all those who claim to have cancelled their ABA memberships because the organization has strayed from its apolitical roots, you seem to still care enough about what the ABA does to find time to check out the ABA's website and comment on articles. Don't you think you could effect some changes from within, rather than whining from the sidelines?

By ReaganNYC on 2013 01 25, 4:11 pm CST

Good thing that the ABA has time to weigh in on issues like these...I guess that all the other problems facing lawyers and law students today have been appropriately addressed.

Stay the hell out of politics, you clowns.

By Mike on 2013 01 25, 4:11 pm CST

One would have thought the ABA would both consider the diversity of its members and wait for the text of the actual bill and analayze it -- like a lawyer -- before jumping in with both feet to give a blessing to an unconstitutional bill based on a politician's press release.

Even the updated summaries on Feinstein's page raise the total "named banned" firearms to 157 not the 120 the ABA reports, and thousands more would be banned under her new "one feature" test, including many the average person would not even consider to be an "assault weapon". In their rush to be all encompasing the list includes firearms that aren't even available for sale in the USA. The bill would ban the firearms most used in national competitions, sport, and hunting, not to mention self-defense.

Indeed the press release goes on to falsely claim that the 1994 ban reduced overall firearms crime by 6.7% holding other factors equal, which was not what the study actually said, insterad the study stated that it could be a chance variance based on only one year of data and other factors may have contributed to the data point.

The ABA's fawning and uncritical support of this bill based on a press release, which attacks both the Second and Fifth Amendments, as the bill prevents owners of the firearms and magazines from selling or transferrign them, leading to the confiscation fo the items upon their death.

I will be not be renewing my membership in the ABA.

By AaronK on 2013 01 25, 4:14 pm CST

This is why I canceled my ABA membership a few years ago and will never renew.

By Buckeyelawyer on 2013 01 25, 4:15 pm CST

Best comment on the ban:
Best comment on these boards for at least 10 months:

"Those AR-10’s are no different than my hunting rifle, except for the cosmetic appearance. Wonder what Bellows and Feinstien would say if we outlawed women’s makeup? No mascara, no lipstick. Would that make their tongues any less useable? "

I'm stealing it! Anyone else can steal my DUI/transmission analogy.

By hadley V. Baxendale on 2013 01 25, 4:16 pm CST

I join those who ask why the ABA President has decided to take it upon herself to commit on behalf of the organization to a position on a controversial issue that has no more to do with the practice of law than it does with the practice of medicine, or carpentry for that matter. if the other comments to this story are any indication, there is strong opposition to Ms. Bellows' veiws by at leat some members. Unless she has taken a membership poll on this issue, the President should not presume to speak for the entire organization based solely on her own personal views.

By NO Lawyer on 2013 01 25, 4:18 pm CST

Well, going forward, my firm can save the money they spend on my annual ABA dues. One less card I need to carry in my wallet.

By Really??? on 2013 01 25, 4:18 pm CST

Regardless of ones personal views Bellows does not have the right to interject the ABA in this very political matter by claiming WE endorse a particular bill. The ABA is not a social club or a generic lobby group. Bellows should retract the ABA endorsement statement and replace with his personal endorsement.

By John on 2013 01 25, 4:21 pm CST

To all those foaming at the mouth and quitting the ABA in protest, the NRA will receive you with open arms and gladly collect your dues in order to advance your absolute God-given right to own guns.

By NRA Welcomes You on 2013 01 25, 4:24 pm CST

I am VERY disappointed in the ABA for (a) supporting a bill that blatantly violates the 2nd Amendment (why is the ABA supporting a bill that violates the Constitution?), and (b) involving itself in political issues. This is the reason I cancelled my membership in the ABA!

By Philip M. Bierman on 2013 01 25, 4:26 pm CST

122 - First, the sophomoric comment was the one you made about the Federalist society. Second, I never said anything about 100 Republican senators. That was a comment by 103 and not mine. The fact is that Harry Reid will not allow this proposal to come up for a vote for the reasons i stated. So how are my "analytically" (sic) skills bad? Third, your comment in 108 didn't even address the point of 103's comments, that some of the provisions are downright silly and of no effect. How does it contradict that to say a majority of Americans support an assault weapons ban? Your comment is a complete non-sequiter and I don't think you analyzed his comment at all before responding to it. Anyway, most of us are trying to address the bill, the Constitution and the political situation and I think it deserves a careful analysis, rather than knee-jerk comments.That's why I made that officer of the court comment. Not sophomoric, but not helpful, perhaps, so I apologize for that, but you need to analyze the bill. I don't care if the majority supports it if it would violate the Constitution.

By Been there done that on 2013 01 25, 4:27 pm CST

One more reason that the ABA is relegating itself to the trash-bin of history. Getting itself involved in things that it has nothing to do with. I for one will never pay money to the ABA again.

By J. on 2013 01 25, 4:27 pm CST

I think everyone needs to remind themselves of why the 2nd Amendment was adopted. In the most crude form, it was adopted so the public could NOT ONLY protect themselves from nefarious individuals, BUT ALSO so they could protect themselves from any totalitarian regime, should such ever come into power.

With the foregoing in mind, let us think about how military "strategy" works. Again, in the most crude form, he who has the biggest gun wins.

Considering that the 2nd Amendment was adopted in 1791 and the available fire arms consisted of muskets and single shot muzzle loaded rifles, it seems to me that a ban on "military" style weapons is the equivalent of telling the people of 1791 that they should consider themselves well defended with knives and pitchforks.

By Just Some Guy Pointing Out the Obvious on 2013 01 25, 4:28 pm CST

I'll just chime in to say that I likewise droppped my ABA membership about 10 years ago for exactly this reason -- the ABA taking political stances. As a matter of principle it shouldn't even matter whether one *agrees* with their political positions or not, the point is that the ABA should be about the legal profession, ethics, etc., and engage in activities and advance positions that are beneficial to the profession of law as a whole. I truly believe in professionalism and the (mutual) advantages of bar membership, and am very involved in my local metropolitan bar association, so I really wanted to be part of the ABA, but cannot do so in good conscience when the organization has strayed so far from its intended purpose. Frankly I'd say the same thing if the organization was actively opposing gun control.

And to Ms. Bellows: "The ABA believes that enactment of this legislation is an essential step, though only part of the answer, to keeping our nation’s schoolchildren and all our citizens safe from future mass shootings.” With all due respect, if you are really so ignorant of legal history as not to know that prohibiting stuff does not "keep us safe," but more often than not *increases* danger, crime, and violence, you simply have no business being the president of the ABA, much less purporting to speak on behalf of its membership on this particular issue.

By Just Some Bloke on 2013 01 25, 4:28 pm CST

No future ABA membership for me. Encourage all current members to cancel over this.

By Crackum on 2013 01 25, 4:32 pm CST

Well you knew this would get some response. I hate to stir the pot even more, but Timothy McVeigh did not need a large magazine clip to kill 200 people in seconds.

By EJF on 2013 01 25, 4:33 pm CST

@140: " Second, I never said anything about 100 Republican senators. That was a comment by 103 and not mine"

That's the whole point - my comment was geared towards 103's remark. If you follow the string of responses, like you seem to be attempting, you would know how to respond accordingly. Instead, you made an irrational statement about my "not following the news" when my comment was very specifically in respond to 103. So try again.

"Third, your comment in 108 didn’t even address the point of 103’s comments, that some of the provisions are downright silly and of no effect. "

Who said I was responding to the entirety of 103's comment? I might even agree with that aspect of his comment. It was irrelevant to the other portion of my remark.

"Your comment is a complete non-sequiter (sic)"

Well, that's just your opinion, man (or woman), but thanks for sharing.

"Anyway, most of us are trying to address the bill, the Constitution and the political situation and I think it deserves a careful analysis, rather than knee-jerk comments."

I utterly disagree that most of the above comments are doing any such thing. Rather, it comes across more like a bunch of whining and knee-jerk complaints.

"Not sophomoric, but not helpful, perhaps, so I apologize for that, but you need to analyze the bill. "

Thank you for the apology. Separately, I have not endorsed the bill in question. However, insofar as the bill bans assault-weapons, that does enjoy relatively popular support. With that said, perhaps the bill does so in an unwise or overly broad manner. That does not seem to be the complaint of most of the commentators above, who appear to disagree with *any* ban, irrespective of the details of such a ban.

" I don’t care if the majority supports it if it would violate the Constitution."

Well, I understand it is your opinion that it violates the Constitution. Again, perhaps certain details of the bill arguably do, but generally, there is a fundamental point of disagreement as to whether the Second Amendment entitles people to any type of hand-held weapon they choose to own.

By EsqinAustin on 2013 01 25, 4:34 pm CST

I think the assault rifle ban makes perfect sense as applied to the federal government, specifically beginning with security details for elected officials. Let the tyrants lay down their arms.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 25, 4:36 pm CST

As apparently the ABA is now a branch of the Democratic party and its leadership has chosen to ignore the oath they took to defend the Constitution of the United States; I am thankful that I did not renew my old membership. I shall now endeavour to be certain that I never purchase or participate in anything of benefit to this organization until such time as I hear that it has removed itself from espousing political opinion and reverts back to the support of the practice of law..

By David Walen on 2013 01 25, 4:39 pm CST

Any "automatic" rifle, a Bushmaster or otherwise, is already illegal under current law. It amazes me how people, including the talking heads on television news shows, comment on topics they know so little about, such as the difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons. Unfortunately, some of them are in Congress.

By Solicitor on 2013 01 25, 4:41 pm CST

The ABA with its support of this bill has shown one more reason not to be a member of this organization. I quit years ago. I support the Constitution and defend it every day. This bill, and others like it, don't stop the criminals. They stop the freedoms of law abiding citizens. This bill has nothing to do with stopping crime and criminal acts, yet it has everything to do with preventing citizens access to their 2nd Amendment rights. Shame on the ABA for not standing on the side of freedom and the Constitution.

By David Ricks on 2013 01 25, 4:43 pm CST

This is exactly why I did not renew my ABA membership. Without going into the merits of the bill, I will simply say that I don't believe that it is the ABA's job to comment or weigh in on such issues.

By Brian on 2013 01 25, 4:45 pm CST

The well regulated militia was a militia of all community men and boys over the age of 16. For those who could not afford a rifle and ammunition, there was a community armory where they could be issued a rifle and powder, and the community armory was there also to resupply ALL members with powder and ball as needed. In point of fact, while there were a number of issues that led to the American Revolution, the actions of the British Army in confiscation of several of these community armories led directly to the war itself. The Americans ran out of powder in the Battle of Bunker Hill precisely because the army had confiscated the supplies in the main Boston armory the previous year. The British outlawed the importation and possession of rifles in 1774, as part of the Coercive Acts. Out in the west and midwest, we DO use the AR platform, and high capacity magazines to hunt. Not everyone hunts deer, some folks hunt prairie dogs and other small, fast varmints. The additional ammo allows a person to get off shots rapidly, because if you miss at 400 yards, that critter is running fast for its hole, so multiple shots may be necessary. However, those who consider that it is okay to ban the auto and semiauto arms miss the point. In 1774, the rifles being confiscated were military style rifles. The government was not amused when folks turned in old blunderbusses, claiming they were their personal arms. And for those who would claim that the Minutemen were the militia of the day also miss the point. The Minutemen were possible 1/4 of the local militia, they were simply the ones who promised, and practiced, getting out and ready for action within a minute, in an attempt to give the rest of the men and boys time to get their gear and form up. For those of you who refuse to learn, well, consider Ben Franklin's comment that those who would surrender liberty for security shall have neither.

By JME on 2013 01 25, 4:48 pm CST


Be that as it may, Scalia in Heller specifically says the Second Amendment does not entitle individuals to the sophisticated sidearms of the modern US military, mentioning the M-16 by name. I'm sure his analsis would extend to the M-4 as well. FYI, he also seems a little down on the prospects of success for individuals facing a modern military.

The AR platform may enjoy Constitution protection--that's still an open question--but to the extent it does, it would be because it's been somewhat "de-militarized".

By Tim on 2013 01 25, 4:57 pm CST

Add me to the list of upset ABA members. The ABA should not advance a position on *either side* of this divisive, hot button debate.

I joined the ABA for the benefits of collaborating with others in my relatively technical area of practice. I benefit from the educational opportunities. I benefit from the opportunities to participate in “thought leader” activities, such as the committees, etc. I enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with my peers at ABA conferences and meetings.

In short, I joined the ABA for the things it’s *supposed* to do.

Taking sides in fractious *political* issues isn’t one of them.

If Ms. Bellows feels the need to weigh in on this rather divisive public debate, she should volunteer on her own *personal* time with the Brady Campaign or other similar organization – and leave her ABA position out of it.

I would feel similarly if the ABA took the other position. In that case, I would object and suggest that Ms. Bellows volunteer on her own *personal* time with the NRA or other similar organization – and leave her ABA position out of it.

In other words, no matter what you think about the Feinstein legislation as a matter of your own personal beliefs, it seems rather obvious that the ABA leadership overstepped its bounds here.

That being said, I’m truly hearted that this debate: a) centers on the role the ABA is and should play; and b) is pretty civil.

By ABA Shouldn't Take Political Stances on Either Sid on 2013 01 25, 5:01 pm CST

I let my ABA membership lapse because of their earlier stands against the 2nd Amendment. My neighbor also let his ABA membership lapse for the same reason.
When the politicians and the media decide that other freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights are no longer necessary, will the ABA line up in lockstep to restrict them as well?
The job of all lawyers should be to ensure that ALL of our rights are safeguarded, not just the politically popular ones. Once rights are lost, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get them back.

By john in MA on 2013 01 25, 5:02 pm CST

When my ABA membership comes up for renewal, I will be filing it in the circular file solely as a result of this action on the part of the ABA. Lawyers, of all people, should be the last bastion of defense of the Constitution. Ditto to all the comments above, plus, I am disheartened that the ABA allowed the gun control lobby to pull the wool over its eyes. Machine guns have been illegal in this country for over 30 years. They are called "assault rifles". Assault rifles discharge multiple rounds per trigger pull. They are truly military-style weapons.

Now semi-automatic weapons, which only discharge one round per trigger pull, are being called "assault weapons" by the gun control lobby in order to try to paint them with the same brush. Shame on you for being duped. They may "look" the same, but they are not at all the same.

By Don't Tread on Me on 2013 01 25, 5:03 pm CST

It appears to me that the original intent of the Second Amendment was to protect us from the Government. "A well armed milita being necessary to a free people . . ." The real problem is sorting out the nutcakes and protecting society from them. Those who wish to kill others will always find a way.

By GR8GU3 on 2013 01 25, 5:04 pm CST

After dropping membership in the ABA many years ago, I rejoined last year. I will not renew my membership, for the same reason cited by 20 or 30 prior posts: the organization seems to have morphed into a political action committee for causes and positions I do not support. While as a voluntary organization the ABA is not inhibited from taking political positions on matters having nothing to do with the practice of law under Keller, perhaps a consideration of the criteria therein which govern the activities of mandatory bar associations would be appropriate. It would certainly be welcomed by a large number of lawyers in this country.

By John H on 2013 01 25, 5:11 pm CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 25, 5:13 pm CST

I am strongly in favor of gun legislation. I'd go a lot further than this bill. I find it enormously depressing that there are so many of you out there that tie weapons' ownership with freedom. To argue that the language of the Second Amendment prevents any reasonable restriction on guns is intellectually dishonest. To say cars kill more people than guns is a non sequitor. Cars serve a public purpose like many things than can result in harm: planes, medicines, hedge clippers, etc. Their purpose is not, like that of guns, to inflict injury. And even they are regulated.

Having said all of that, I nevertheless must concur that this not the province of the ABA. As much as I agree with their position and logic, this is obviously an issue that divides much of the country, so they can't possibly speak for membership. But even if 90% of members agreed with the position, it still is not what the ABA exists for..

By Billy Bones on 2013 01 25, 5:16 pm CST

The ABA has obviously decided to take a political stance since its position is that the government should violate the legal rights of its citizenry. Even if ABA thinks the law is constitutional, shouldn't they wait for the legal briefs that will surface arguing both sides or does the ABA President already consider herself a Constitutional scholar and doens't need to see the legal arguments from professionals on both sides of this proposed law.

I have canceled my membership. Likewise, I have already heard from several law firms who have determined that given the political stance of the ABA, they can no longer approve firm payment of ABA dues because, regardless of the feelings of Managing Partner on the issue, it could be perceived that the firm is providing a perk to people of a certain political persuasion. If a firm will pay ABA dues, perhaps it should also pay NRA dues if an associate so chooses. ABA has become irrelevant to our profession and can expect its membership to decline significantly. How many lawyers do you really think will pay these dues out of their own pocket if their firm isn't paying it for them?

By Disgusted Gal in MO on 2013 01 25, 5:21 pm CST

@ Andy:

Um, wrong link - that's the mission for the section for public sector lawyers. Not a slam, just a correction. I think you might have intended to reference the ABA's general mission statement, which is found at:

Full text copied below:

The American Bar Association Mission:
To serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession

The ABA achieves its mission through tireless work toward four goals.

Goal I: Serve Our Members.

Provide benefits, programs and services which promote members’ professional growth and quality of life.
Goal II: Improve Our Profession.

Promote the highest quality legal education.
Promote competence, ethical conduct and professionalism.
Promote pro bono and public service by the legal profession.
Goal III: Eliminate Bias and Enhance Diversity.

Promote full and equal participation in the association, our profession, and the justice system by all persons.
Eliminate bias in the legal profession and the justice system.
Goal IV: Advance the Rule of Law.

Increase public understanding of and respect for the rule of law, the legal process, and the role of the legal profession at home and throughout the world.
Hold governments accountable under law.
Work for just laws, including human rights, and a fair legal process.
Assure meaningful access to justice for all persons.
Preserve the independence of the legal profession and the judiciary.

About the only one this arguably falls under is Goal IV.3 ("work for just laws....") But this doesn't seem to really be about "just" laws. It's more of a political stance.

But I'll *respectfully* disagree with your characterization. It seems to me that the dissenters here don't appear very "paranoid" or "rage driven." If anything, it's the Feinstein bill supporters who have been quicker to hurl invectives this time.

By ABA Shouldn't Take Stances on Either Side on 2013 01 25, 5:23 pm CST

The ABA is no longer my representative. If I need someone to use my money to advance liberal political causes, I can join another organization for that purpose. Shame on you Laurel Bellows.

By Bill on 2013 01 25, 5:24 pm CST

Now really, does anyone actually care what the ABA does on issues like this?

By kennyg on 2013 01 25, 5:25 pm CST

Wait, why is the ABA expressing an opinion on this piece of legislation AT ALL, much less endorsing it? From what I've seen, it will be completely ineffective at its stated goal, and is merely a grandstanding piece by Franken-Feinstein as a gun-grab. By the way, WHEN someone challenges it on 5th Amendment "taking" grounds (there is no -future- provision for "transfer" of a "banned" weapon or magazine), they WILL win unless the Federal Government is going to PAY them for the confiscation of the "banned" weapon.

Whom should we contact at the ABA executive committee to express our displeasure at her approval of our rights being confiscated, and our ire at her audacity at expressing an opinion that she likely has not polled her support base upon.

She will NOT be receiving my vote for any post in the ABA in the future. I will not cancel my ABA membership, but this might finally push me to actually join the executive committees of one or more of the Sections so I can give them a swift kick in the butt to say "hey, stop ignoring a big part of your membership to push your Statist-Utopian agenda."

By Charles W. Skinner on 2013 01 25, 5:27 pm CST

Apparently many ABA members (or former members, as the case may be) care.

And many others might. Personally, I'm always surprised at how much people tend to value my opinion on all sorts of things simply because I'm a lawyer. Not so much here (I'm in DC, where apparently nobody values anybody's opinion), but when I get outside the Beltway, I find a surprising amount of deference to my opinion. When it happens, it's quite humbling. As a result, I find myself more cautious about opening my yap.

I don't mean this to sound self-important, but the fact of the matter is that we are lawyers. We have special training. People listen to us. We should be wary of wielding whatever influence we have.

By @kennyG on 2013 01 25, 5:32 pm CST

What the ABA should definitely be doing is getting Congress to eliminate the immunity of weapons manufacturers from lawsuits.

By Vic Sage on 2013 01 25, 5:37 pm CST

More political junk. Actions like this is why after being a member for 20 years I cancelled this past year. Not only is the ABA just another political organization, it (or at least it's president, know absolutely nothing about guns. Shameful.

By former member on 2013 01 25, 5:38 pm CST

I just canceled my ABA Membership. Call 1-800-285-2221 to cancel yours.

Regardless of the specific constitutional right at issue, Laurel Bellows's unilateral decision and announcement shows an extraordinary disregard of members' political opinions and of the ABA's duty to defend the Constitution. Her announcement would be just as offensive if it instead supported regulation or registration of political speech or religious affiliation, or if it related to other controversial political/constitutional issues.

Bellows' announcement and political stance does nothing to foster or promote the ethical, professional, and competent practice of law. The banning and regulation of firearms is not an issue on which the ABA can appropriately pick a side. If the ABA were going to pick a side of any constitutional issue, it certainly should not be the side that, at least arguably, is most likely to permit the government to encroach on or violate the civil rights of ABA members and the public in general.

By New Ex-ABA Member on 2013 01 25, 5:41 pm CST

By the way, I want to correct a few a few posters above who incorrectly state that ownership of fully automatic weapons is illegal. That is not true. Automatic weapons are available to private individuals, provided a federal Class 3 firearms license is obtained and the appropriate tax paid. Same for suppressors (so-called "silencers") and some other forms/variants of more-highly-regulated firearms.

By Bill on 2013 01 25, 5:43 pm CST

The idea that all gun owners oppose reasonable bans on assault weapons is simply a myth. There are two important things to understand: (1) there should be different laws for rural versus urban areas. I grew up hunting and fishing and had several sport firearms. When I moved to the city I left them with my brothers who eventually decided I had abandoned them and took them for their own. So owning firearms really has a different meaning and different use in rural areas--there they are tools and necessities and for many less well off people a means of sustenance. There is simply no need or use for the same number or variety of firearms in an urban area. (2) Most gun owners do not own AK47s or other assault weapons. All of my firearms were sporting or target firearms. While I no longer hunt, I still think that target shooting is a great hobby. The vast majority of gun owners, like myself, support reasonable bans on assault weapons. As usual, it is a small minority of gun owners and the NRA shilling for the military arms manufacturers that get all the media and other attention.

By Anonymous Gun Owner on 2013 01 25, 5:45 pm CST

When will the ABA get out of politics? Who decided that the ABA should support the "gun ban?"

By J. S. Norman on 2013 01 25, 5:45 pm CST

Sadly, the only ones who will be left in the ABA are leftists. A once proud and respected professional organization is really, and has been for at least a decade, politically unsavory for anyone who is not a liberal.

By Michael on 2013 01 25, 5:47 pm CST

Registration is the avenue to confication. Criminals do not register their guns. I protection of liberty is the ABA'a gaol, then it shouild be apposed to even registration of guns. Our liberty is being redirected every session of congress. Before long they may outlaw lawyers because we stand up for freedom.

By GR8GU3 on 2013 01 25, 5:48 pm CST

Count me among those who are not necessarily against the legislation but believe that the ABA is way out of line here. I disagree with other commentors who claim that the ABA should refrain from taking political stances under any circumstances; I simply believe that the ABA's political stances should 1) have a direct nexus to advancing the legal profession and 2) reflect a consensus of the membership. This obviously does neither. I, too, would like to know the protocol followed by Bellows in obtaining the authority to endorse this legislation on my behalf (and yours).

By Omar on 2013 01 25, 5:48 pm CST

As lawyers, we should welcome a vigorous debate about gun safety and the Second Amendment, aware of our unique legal and political history. James Madison wrote the Second Amendment as he did (compare the original draft to the final version) to ensure that the southern states could maintain (muster and arm) their slave patrols through the use of state militias. (The Hidden History of the Second Amendment, 31 U.C. Davis Law Review 309 (1998) Madison (a Virginia slave holder) drafted the Bill of Rights, and the Second Amendment in particular, to fulfill a campaign promise and to mollify Patrick Henry and George Mason (fellow Virginian slave holders) who were concerned with keeping the southern slaves in line. (Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, Sally E. Hadden, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 2001.) Madison never intended the Bill of Rights to change the structure of the U.S. Constitution; so what of that document's preamble? What of our rights to domestic tranquility?
While it's true the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that the "right to bear arms" is individual, not "collective" or in connection with a regulated militia; it's also true that that change is due to a concerted-- and successful-- effort by the NRA/Gun Lobby since 1980 to upend 200-plus years of jurisprudence on the issue. (Even more troubling is the ascendancy of insurrectionists who believe that "the government" is the tyrant and they are "the People" who have the right to acquire deadly arsenals comprised of multiple assault pistols and rifles and large capacity magazines (LCMs) that rival law enforcement and military weapons.) We lawyers know that the U.S. Supreme Court has been wrong before. Dred Scott v. Sanford, Plessy v. Ferguson, and Korematsu v. United States, have all been reversed. Meanwhile, "[w]e the People of the United States" suffer the results of unrestricted AW and LCM sales. Beware the portents of Justice Robert H. Jackson (a former Nuremburg judge) in his Terminiello v. Chicago dissent: "The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that if the Court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact."
I hail from an eastern state and never understood the social utility of allowing the gun lobby (NRA/ “Million Gun Challenge”) to silence the rest of us and sell AWs and LCMs without restriction or registration. After my relative's child was murdered in his first grade classroom in Sandy Hook Elementary School (on 14 December, the same date as George Washington died in 1799), I realize that the gun marketers have won: "civil society" (a Madisonian phrase) is losing. Hunting and defense firearms owned by law abiding citizens are not the problem. No one I know advocates gun prohibition. If, however, you require AWs or LCMs for hunting or defense, you aren’t much of a sportsman or a marksman. Most Americans simply want to protect our children and themselves from senseless violence. As noted on 30 September 1996, in the final Dunblane [Elementary School Massacre] Report by the Hon. Lord Cullen, addressing semi-automatic weapons: "[T]he part they play in crime and their relative lethality, ease of use and rapidity of fire. I consider the risk which arises from their present legal availability and reach the conclusion that there is a case for restricting the possession by individuals of self-loading pistols and revolvers of whatever [caliber] which are held for target shooting. " . No matter your view of the Second Amendment, we can all agree that guns are efficient deadly weapons. "If there were no guns, the lethality of crimes would be less…You can’t have a drive-by knifing." If you desire more information on responsible solutions, log on to the organization founded by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly.

By Marlene Browne Chamberlin on 2013 01 25, 5:51 pm CST

I'm a brand new lawyer which means my membership to the ABA is free. But I can assure you that if the ABA continues to take positions in political debates, I will not become a paid member. ABA, please focus all of your resources into lobbying for lawyers, education of lawyers and accreditation of law schools. Please do not have any opinions about anything that doesn't have to deal with the practice or education of lawyers.

By Chris on 2013 01 25, 5:51 pm CST

My ABA membership will be cancelled today. No more money to ABA.

ABA is a mere political organization with an agenda. Bad move ABA. You just alienated at least half of the profession you seek to engender. Ms. Bellows step down already!!

By JOHN14 on 2013 01 25, 5:56 pm CST

And here I was about to renew my membership. Thanks for saving me some money!

By BenJCarman on 2013 01 25, 5:56 pm CST

I cancelled my membership this morning and I urge others to do the same.

By Stew on 2013 01 25, 5:58 pm CST

Has the ABA leadership not read the Constitution? What does or has the ABA done to protect the Constitution in the last 30 years? Whether to pass an idiotic law supressing our Constitutional rights is what I naively thought was not a role of the ABA.

I waste $300+ a year to belong to the ABA, because I want to support the trade association for lawyers. Hoever the ABA does little to advance the practice of law and help its members with their practice. The only practical things that I get from the ABA is through the Solo & Small Firm Section. It actually deals with the practice of law. The rest of the ABA is just a social justice entity that sells expensive book. I think that after 30 years it is tome for me to resign.

By BillDog on 2013 01 25, 5:59 pm CST

I was thinking about rejoining the ABA after a several year hiatus. Not now.

In addition to being a licensed attorney, I am also a U.S. Army infantry officer. I entered West Point in 1986 and have been in uniform ever since. At no time in all those years has the Army every issued me a semi-automatic rifle. They are militarily obsolete. The AR15 is a weapon designed for civilian use. The military-style features that so many are up in arms about (pistol grip, folding or collapsible stock, flash suppressor) are irrelevent to a criminal - even one engaging in a mass shooting, but are useful to those how use the weapons for legitimate purposes - hunting, target shooting, etc. Other features included in the so-called ban (bayonet mount, launcher for firing grenades attached to the barrel via gas pressure generated by fire a blank round vice a live one) are even militarily obsolete as well as irrelevant in a crime. Finally, rifles are used in only about 3% of gun crimes. Handguns, however, are used in the vast majority of gun crimes: Conversely, handguns are rarely used in combat, while military-style "assault weapons" are almost never used in crime - high-profile but statistically rare instances like the atrocity at Sandy Hook notwithstanding.

Given these facts, people who advocate for a ban on so-called "assault weapons" can only be proceeding in one of two ways: They are either poorly informed, or they are debating in bad faith. I'll let those who know her decide which direction Laurel Bellows is coming from.

By Dennis on 2013 01 25, 6:18 pm CST

The ABA is in part a lobbying organization, just like the NRA, and I think it is highly appropriate for it to support a bill that is undoubtedly something the membership would substantially support. I strongly commend the substance of this bill and cannot imagine how any rationale person could be opposed to regulation of weapons that have no other purpose than mass murder. I don't buy into the propaganda of the NRA that private citizens need such weapons to protect them from the government. The government needs to exercise its police power so that all citizens can be free and safe. We live in a civilized society, but we have the highest rate of murder by gun in the entire civilized world and more guns per capita than any other civilized country. This demonstrates that our government is not taking sufficient action to keep citizens safe from gun violence. This is a step in that direction. I hope the mothers of America create a groundswell of political clout to permanently defuse the lobbying efforts of the NRA.

By Jim McQueen on 2013 01 25, 6:27 pm CST

#3 and #50 are correct. This type of position chases lawyers away from the ABA. The ABA should weigh in on legal process issues - work towards legal processes in defense of liberty and justice. But, stay out of the political substance of laws.

By JBM on 2013 01 25, 6:30 pm CST

I am dismay that the ABA would issue a political statement that is contrary to Constitutional principals. I am as equally disillusioned with those in our so called "learned profession" who have forgotten the Constitutional intent expressed by the founders of the country as expressed in the Federalist papers, and who had a clear understanding of governments' tendency to evolve into tyrannies.

Don't get me started on ignorant career politicians that are completely clueless on the subject matter they wish to legislate on.

By lawaggie on 2013 01 25, 6:36 pm CST

@Comment 183: The ABA does have a lobbying function, but for the President to unilaterally endorse a piece of legislation that has little or nothing to do with the ABA's Mission is inappropriate. There is a difference between lobbying and using your position as the head of an organization to promote your own political agenda. More so, without a survey of the membership as to their position on the issue, your assertion that the membership would substantially support the bill is unsubstantiated.

By Michael on 2013 01 25, 6:39 pm CST

I will add my voice to those who express disppointment--and even outrage--that the ABA took a stance on this political issue. It infuriates me that the letter from the ABA President purported to express support for the bill on behalf of all ABA members. Count me out.

Here's another cancelled ABA membership.

By Shame on the ABA on 2013 01 25, 6:42 pm CST

Instead of renewing my membership in the ABA, I'll send that amount to the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation who actually support the constitution as we all took an oath to do.

By Voting with my feet on 2013 01 25, 6:43 pm CST

Why is the ABA taking a stand on this issue? I do not remember being polled - my opinion of the proposed ban is not the ABA's position. I do not wish to pay my annual membership fees (as I had been paying for a dozen years) to an organization that arbitrarily takes a political side.

By Upset Member on 2013 01 25, 6:43 pm CST

I don't recall what position the ABA took on the Obama Administration's gun running exercise that killed hundreds of Mexican citizens and at least one American Border Agent. I don't recall the ABA demanding the criminal prosecution of Eric Holder. It seems the ABA is selective in what piques its interest relative to firearms.

Since the Fast and Furious scandal blew up in their faces the vultures in Congress and the White House, and the ABA, simply waited around for another tragedy to exploit, and make the same old pitch to destroy the 2nd Amendment.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 25, 6:46 pm CST

I am writing a story for Yahoo News and would like to get comments from those on both sides of this issue. Practicing Attorney's would be preferred for responses, please email a one paragraph position statement that first addresses your position on the ban and the secondly addresses your position on the ABA taking a political position on the ban. Statements can be sent to, please include your contact information. Thank you.

By Ray Misner on 2013 01 25, 6:49 pm CST

Jim McQueen you say the majority supports this when this is the greatest response to and ABA Journal artice I have ever read and with most of the responses being against MS Below's position.
From ought it would appear, she needs to retract the position and poll the membership and non-member attorneys who wich to respond to her position.
I personally any against the legislation and I bear a three inck knife wound from a gang member and my son was dead from a gun shot to his head when he was 17. Yet, I still believe that the citizens of any county should be able to rise up when liberty is threatened. Had not Hitler disarmed the German population, maybe millions of lives may have been saved.
Look at the world around us. No one is revolting for less freedom except the most extreamest.
As a pre-WW II Depresion Era person I have known many brave people who has fought for this county and some who have died for it. I was lucky to be draft age between Korea and Vet Nam and did not get called serve. Like me, most of the Hero's I know fought FOR our Liberty and would fight againt our own government if it tries to steel it away. That is why we are agains it suppresion in Court, at the voting booth and if necessary in revolution to preserve it.
As I well know, nuts and crooks kill peple but guns protect us.

By GR8GU3 on 2013 01 25, 6:50 pm CST

I am extremely disappointed that the President of the ABA took it upon herself to express her support for the Feinstein bill on behalf of the entire ABA. Her viewpoint is diametrically opposite to mine and millions of other law-abiding Americans who own guns and use them responsibly. The ABA should stay out of this issue.

The proposed legislation does absolutely nothing to address the perceived abuse of lethal guns being in the hands of criminals (who won't follow the law anyway) and mentally disturbed people who are causing most of the headline grabbing probems now. The proposed law is overly broad in its reach and unconstitutional on its face, and most importantly will not improve our safety. Let's hope the House and Senate realize the proposed law is merely a thinly disguised attempt to begin the process to confiscate guns and refuse to pass this misguided legislation.

By Rayanne Beers on 2013 01 25, 6:57 pm CST

Dear ABA, please do not bother sending me any more membership renewal requests. Bad facts make bad law and by taking this stance, this organization is breaking that rule. Anti-gun advocates are taking advantage of horrific acts of disturbed individuals and are using them to pursue their own gains rather than addressing the real issue - the people involved in these acts! Perhaps if they put this much energy into helping emotionally disturbed individuals and by keeping criminals off the street, they would not have to be so concerned with infringing the rights of the millions of law abiding citizens that are responsible firearms owners.

By Ed Germick on 2013 01 25, 7:05 pm CST

Am I missing something here? Many politicians are stating that there is no "sporting" or "hunting" purpose for the so-called "assault weapons" (comment #1 actually summed that concept rather well), so they should be banned. I don't recall the 2nd Amendment as protecting our hunting rights. I recall them recognizing our rights to keep and bear arms, which would allow us to protect ourselves from others, be they criminals breaking into our homes, foreign enemies, or tyranical governments (therefore providing another type of check and balance to the government). If I ever need to protect my family from one of the above, I want the best weapon to use, not some antiquated design that is 100 years old and substandard to what the aggressor is using. I hope Feinstein and anyone else who supports the ban is voted out of office for this very short-sighted bill that will likely have absolutely no effect on crime while infringing the rights of millions of law abiding citizens (that unlike her and the ABA president, know something about guns).

By Ed Germick on 2013 01 25, 7:16 pm CST

Another reason not to join this organization.

By Kevin on 2013 01 25, 7:22 pm CST

@188 Plus, you can get Three 5-year memberships from the National Rifle Association, for the price of a single year membership in the American Bar Association.

By Yankee on 2013 01 25, 7:24 pm CST

@195: Funny how liberals apply an impossibly narrow treatment to the 2nd Amendment and the most expansive treatment that their fertile little brains can come up with for the 1st Amendment.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 25, 7:26 pm CST

Having already renounced my ABA membership, all I can add is that I hope that Ms. Bellows does not plan on using her tenure as President of the ABA as a springboard to candidacy for a judicial office. Her seemingly knee-jerk reaction to such an emotional issue as gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, without a thorough analysis of the issues involved, demonstrate that she is unsuited for such a position.

By BMF on 2013 01 25, 7:28 pm CST

ABA had no business taking a stand on this issue and I could not be happier that I am no longer an ABA member.

By Former ABA Member on 2013 01 25, 7:29 pm CST

Question for the editor: Can you explain how this decision was made and who made it? Surely the ABA President alone can't purport to speak for the organization.

By IndyCanary on 2013 01 25, 7:41 pm CST

I have been an ABA member since 1976. In that time I have been a Judge for nearly three decades. My oath to uphold the Constitution requires me to support the entire Constitution at all times. I am also a firearm owner, the holder of a concealed pistol permit and the collector of many types of firearms, including those targeted by this proposed legislation. I firmly believe that this legislation goes far beyond the "reasonable regulations" constitutionally permitted and cannot see how any honest constitutional scholar can reach any other result.

The Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, does not grant rights to citizens, but rather it guarantees their pre-existing rights from the reach of the government. Yes, the Constitution is a "charter of negatives" in the sense that it is an exercise of free Citizens in creating a limited government, reserving their rights from the reach of their creation to States or themselves. Legislation like this gun-control bill can only be viewed as grossly exceeding the reach of the federal government.

We are a nation of Citizens, not subjects. Much of the world's population is comfortable with the concepts behind socialism and "big government" as their cultural and experiential history rises from monarchial systems. For them the "Elites" are merely the substitute for a monarchy. They expect to be controlled and "taken care of", so they are willing to put up with much that Americans will not. However, the USA was birthed from a rejection of the monarchial past and the embrace of individual independence AND responsibility. Our elected representatives, at the federal level and in some states, are attempting to regress the American Experience back to one in which the "Elites" (self-proclaimed) replace the former monarchies from which the Founders rebelled.

The ABA should be ashamed of failing to go through the intellectual exercise of analyzing the "gun control" issue (in reality, a citizen-control issue). Such a failure can be the only means by which its support of the legislation under consideration, and indeed most gun control, can be reached.

I have not yet decided to withdraw from the ABA, but if I remain it will be only to be a voice from within. Frankly, I doubt such is even possible given the ABA's institutional culture...

By SOON-TO-BE-FORMER-ABA-MAMBER on 2013 01 25, 7:44 pm CST

If Ms. Bellows did this alone, then it is time for her to resign her office.

By GR8GU3 on 2013 01 25, 7:44 pm CST

I'll be dropping my membership to the ABA and sending the money I save to the NRA.

By Ken on 2013 01 25, 7:49 pm CST

I submit that Ken's course of action is an excellent choice.

By Number 202 above, correcting typo to "Member& on 2013 01 25, 7:51 pm CST

Thank you to all my brothers-in-arms attorneys for your good understanding of the misinformation surrounding this law. But unless you do more than post your comments here, it may be passed. I implore you, for the sake of our country and freedom to inform your friends and colleagues and most importantly, your political representatives of your opinions, reasoning and opposition to the ABA "official" support.

By Rhlaw on 2013 01 25, 7:56 pm CST

I truly hope enough members cancel their membership and send a message to the ABA.

By BIOT on 2013 01 25, 7:58 pm CST

The ABA should have stayed out of this fight.

By Maria on 2013 01 25, 7:58 pm CST

More than calling the ABA, call your representative. I just got off the phone with the DC office of one of my Senators and let her know that as a member of the ABA I was disappointed with Ms. Bellows' endorsement of Senator Fienstein' bill on behalf of the ABA and that not all of the membership agrees with that with that blanket endorsement.

By Michael on 2013 01 25, 8:05 pm CST

It seems that in reaction to the ABA's course of conduct, a number of attorneys are essentially repeating that mistake on the other side. I don't think the point of this board is to mobilize opposition to a legislative action. If the arguments about the proper role of the ABA were valid, then it would be hypocritical to hijack this resource to call for the bill's defeat, rather than the change in policy of the ABA.

After all, there are a number of people who feel either that the bill is right but the ABA's action wrong.

By Tim on 2013 01 25, 8:15 pm CST

I am also a long time member of the ABA as well as a lawful gun owner. The letters by the current ABA President in support of gun control legislation are inappropriate and do not reflect the views of the full membership of the ABA. I will seriously consider, for the first time, not renewing my ABA membership. There are other good legal organizations that would fully appreciate my membership dues each year.

By Annoyed ABA Member on 2013 01 25, 8:42 pm CST

@198 ". . . the most expansive treatment that their fertile little brains can come up with for the 1st Amendment."

Except, of course, when corporate or commercial speech is at issue.

By Yankee on 2013 01 25, 8:44 pm CST

It is simply outrageous that the ABA’s President would take an official position on behalf of the ABA and its members with respect to the significant ongoing political debate regarding the 2nd Amendment. Nowhere in the ABA’s Mission Statement and Goals does it provide that it will take political positions with respect to constitutional issues. Fortunately, the most recent Supreme Court decisions (Heller and McDonald) and 7th Circuit decision (Moore/Shepard) have all been supportive of the 2nd Amendment and our gun rights. Kudos to the hard working attorneys involved in those victories. I suggest that Bellows read those decisions and the 2nd Amendment, and keep her personal opinions to herself.

By 82Bulldog on 2013 01 25, 9:15 pm CST

@#32--Never has/never will

By NOW JERRY BROWN on 2013 01 25, 9:16 pm CST

And the issue is not that the ABA took the WRONG side on this legislative issue, but that it took ANY side on this issue.

Listen . . . I work daily with lawyers who are 180 degrees opposite of me on political matters, and we get along great. What binds us together, of course, is our profession, and not politics, culture or religion.

The ABA should be an organization that supports the legal profession together and brings lawyers together.

Ms. Bellows is a smart and pleasant person, and I have nothing but respect for her. I just don't know what she was thinking in getting out in front on this issue.

By Yankee on 2013 01 25, 9:31 pm CST

No authority whatsoever to take this stance on behalf of all ABA members. We are a professional organization...NOT political. I didn't know Bob Costas was our president.

By USAFA 04 on 2013 01 25, 9:31 pm CST

Welcome to the club colleagues. I formerly belonged to the ABA and had disability insurance through the ABA Endowment. About 10 years ago, and for the same reasons, I cancelled my ABA membership, cancelled my disability insurance, got my refund and donated it to the NRA-ILA and haven't looked back. While I was at it, I resigned from ATLA for much the same reasons. You guys rock!

By Codger on 2013 01 25, 9:56 pm CST

Who does Laurel Bellows think she is to speak on behalf of all attorneys in the ABA in such a matter. I am a gun attorney that represents gun owners, as well as an Endowment Life Member of the National Rifle Association. I am absolutely shocked and appalled at the position taken by this organization on such a politically divisive matter. My ABA membership was cancelled this afternoon! Shame!!

By Kevin L. Bradford on 2013 01 25, 9:56 pm CST

Why is the ABA taking a political position not to mention a knee jerk reaction in supporting a ban that doesn't address the issue? This is why I didn't renew my membership. this organization supposed to be about lawyering - not politics.

Just a note: Columbine happened while the "Assualt Rifle Ban" was in effect. A lot of good that did.

By Worfatt on 2013 01 25, 10:33 pm CST

I was due to renew my membership, but not know. There is no reason for the ABA to weigh in on such a hot button political issue that is outside the scope of its mission. So long ABA!

By Hiredgun07 on 2013 01 25, 10:50 pm CST

Not supported by this member either.

By Larry Rice on 2013 01 25, 10:53 pm CST

This is why I am not joining!

By Dawn Sabel on 2013 01 25, 10:54 pm CST

This is why I am NOT joining the ABA!

By Dawn Sabel on 2013 01 25, 10:55 pm CST

I'm sending my cut in half ABA card back to this organization. Done!

By Terry Roberts on 2013 01 25, 10:59 pm CST

Writing letters, purporting to express the support its members (approximately 400,000), for causes that many of the members do not support contradicts the very mission statement that the ABA is charged to follow. I am disappointed and am no longer going to be associated with a professional organization that believes its knows whats best for me. Guess I'll have a few extra dollars next year to support the NRA.

In case you want to know what the mission statement of the ABA is I found this link on Wikipedia. Which was easier to find that on the ABA's own website. Speaks volumes for the ABA and its failed leadership.

"The ABA mission, as stated in its 2008 mission statement, is "To serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession."[2] The goals and objectives are:

Goal 1: Serve our members. (Objective: Provide benefits, programs and services which promote members’ professional growth and quality of life.)
Goal 2: Improve our profession. (Objectives: 1) Promote the highest quality legal education; 2) Promote competence, ethical conduct and professionalism; 3) Promote pro bono and public service by the legal profession.)
Goal 3: Eliminate bias and enhance diversity. (Objectives: 1) Promote full and equal participation in the association, our profession, and the justice system by all persons; 2) Eliminate bias in the legal profession and the justice system.)
Goal 4: Advance the rule of law. (Objectives: 1) Increase public understanding of and respect for the rule of law, the legal process, and the role of the legal profession at home and throughout the world; 2) Hold governments accountable under law; 3) Work for just laws, including human rights, and a fair legal process; 4)Assure meaningful access to justice for all persons; and 5) Preserve the independence of the legal profession and the judiciary.)"

How does supporting new gun restrictions engender any of these? No need to respond ABA - the question was rhetorical.

By Hiredgun07 on 2013 01 25, 11:10 pm CST

I like this ABA newsletter and find some useful and amusing comments here but terminated my ABA membership a long time ago because of the political agenda.

By WINGCMDR on 2013 01 25, 11:26 pm CST

This reminds me why I dropped my ABA membership. This is appalling that the ABA would stick its nose into something that has nothing to do with the judicial system. I thought as attorneys we were supposed to protect and defend the Constitution.

By Gun Owning Lawyer on 2013 01 25, 11:32 pm CST

I recently sent the following email to President Bellows:

Dear Madam President Bellows:

I am writing to you as I have recently read the subject letters you authored to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and U.S. Representative Carol McCarthy.

I pose a question to you, Madam President: how dare you take the positions you did, on behalf of all ABA Members, without a formal resolution by the ABA House of Delegates?

By what resolution, or what authority were you given to take this position on behalf of the entire ABA? I do not remember this issue being brought to the general membership for a vote for a position to be taken. Upon researching the ABA Policy Document Library, available on the internet, I do not see any formal ABA Resolution by the House of Delegates on this matter - or the very specific pieces of legislation you endorse. In fact, between the time of introduction of Senator Feinstein's legislation, and your letter, no formal ABA meeting had taken place. If I am mistaken, please forward me the minutes of such a meeting.

I do note that the ABA has taken formal positions on previous firearm control measures, but those positions were taken after formal ABA meetings, and formal resolutions by the ABA House of Delegates.

To be sure, Article III of the ABA Bylaws clearly denotes your role as the Association's President. See ABA Constitution and Bylaws In fact, Art. XXV, Sec. 25.1 of the ABA Bylaws clearly states "The President or a person designated by the President shall express the policy of the Association as determined by the House of Delegates." (emphasis added). I have attached this document for your review, and for the information of my elected officials. Section 25.3 of the Bylaws clearly states that unless the policy has been approved by the House of Delegates, the member must identify that the position they are taking is a personal position of that member only, and not on behalf of the entire organization. I am totally unaware of any action by the ABA House of Delegates on Senator Feinstein and/or Representative McCarthy's legislation. Your letter also clearly denotes that the position you take on very specific legislation is that of the entirety of the ABA, and do not represent your personal views.

I am copying the staff of my U.S. Senators on this, because you clearly did not have my support, as an ABA Member to send your letter on my behalf. I want my Senators to know that I, as an ABA member, do not endorse your letter, nor does the message it conveys accurately portray my personal stance on this matter. If the ABA has taken a formal position on this matter, I want my Congressional representatives to know that it does not reflect my personal opinion or views on the matter. Should you testify before Congress on this issue, I want the ABA's organic documents available to my Congressional representatives for their preparation of any questions that they may pose to you, including that of authority to unilaterally take a formal position on a matter.

Your letter not only outrages myself, but other attorneys who take issue with the affront on the civil liberties of all Americans that the legislation of Senator Feinstein and Representative McCarthy represents.

I truly hope that you are receiving other strongly-worded correspondence in regards to this issue.

Unless you can cite and point to some authority that allows you to unilaterally take positions on behalf of this entire organization, I DEMAND that you retract your letter of support to Senator Feinstein and Representative McCarthy.

I await your response.

By Idaho Lawyer on 2013 01 25, 11:40 pm CST

I found the following information on the ABA's web-site:

ABA Standing Committee on Gun Violence:
"The ABA believes that the problem of gun violence in America is best addressed in the context of creating a society governed by laws and not by individuals. The gun lobby promotes a vision of a future American society in which gun violence is to be addressed primarily by more guns, a society in which individuals in all walks of life would be armed with concealed handguns. They maintain that gun crime would be deterred by the widespread possession of guns by individuals acting on their own to confront or respond as individuals. As national spokespersons for the legal profession and for a system of laws dedicated to the goal of justice, we seek a different future. Our goal is the establishment of sound laws and an orderly society in which the rule of law makes violence less prevalent and in which individuals are safer and more secure from threats of violence. We believe that lawyers share a special responsibility to help create a just and secure society in which firearms are well-regulated toward that end."

Can you imagine the ABA taking the same approach to the First Amendment? "We believe that lawyers share a special responsibility to help create a just and secure society in which free speech is well-regulated toward that end."

By 82Bulldog on 2013 01 25, 11:53 pm CST

How can we more directly voice our outrage at Ms. Bellows idiotic stance on something she clearly knows nothing about? Isn't this our organization? When was it taken over by morons? Yes, I agree with all who point out that we vow to uphold the Constitution - which includes the 2nd Amendment.

@Vic Sage - you think "conservatives whining sounds like victory"? How about Americans demanding that we stick to our founding principles? You weenies think good intentions will keep you safe from evil? The 2nd Amendment was created not so that guns could be used as the great equalizer of good against evil but to protect the citizens of this once great nation from its own government. The fact that guns also give a 120 lb woman the ability to protect herself against a gang of 200+ pound men or a cop the ability to enforce order against an angry mob is just icing on the cake.

By ReaderoftheConstitution on 2013 01 26, 12:41 am CST

One action that some might consider appropriate is to communicate with Laurel Bellows directly at

She should know the extent of negative feeling both within and outside the ABA about her action.

By Norman Solberg on 2013 01 26, 1:26 am CST

Come on, boys and girls; let's see the hands of all those who are in the least surprised that the Association's leadership has decided to come out for Feinstein and her "assault weapons" ban. If I see more than three hands, I think I'll hurl.

By George Renneberg on 2013 01 26, 1:33 am CST

Perhaps the news media would be interested in the extent to which the response to Ms. Bellows' action seems to be overwhelmingly negative.

By Norman Solberg on 2013 01 26, 1:42 am CST

Why support these old, ineffective, extremist measures? Does it make her feel good? Doesn't she know that these bans don't work?

By Gdefasco on 2013 01 26, 2:14 am CST

It is said that politicians have two goals: first, get elected; second, get elected again. There are a few who actually serve their constituents and defend the Constitution. Feinstein is far away from being among these gifted few. Expecting more from the ABA leadership, I am disappointed. Laurel Bellows and ABA leadership, please recant the Association's support for this proposed legislation, followed immediately with each of you tendering your resignation. There are many fine aspects of the ABA, but like a barrel of apples, it takes but a few bad ones to adversely affect an otherwise good organization. ABA leadership, will you respond as requested?

By Dean Rallis on 2013 01 26, 3:01 am CST

I left the ABA many years ago because of its senseless partisan politics. It's position on gun control is yet another example. Ms. Bellows obviously does not read nor follow FBI statistics, otherwise she would see the ludicrous position the ABA is taking on Sen. Feinstein's bill. All that Congress need pass is the 25 cent fix...if you own a gun you must buy and use a trigger lock and store them securely when not in use (e.g., gun safe). We don't need an omnibus bill that is so politically charged that it has little chance of passing in either house. Also, Ms. Bellows needs to re-read The Federalist, the English Bill of Rights, Blackstone's Commentaries, and a few recent Supreme Court decisions. What about the 2nd Amendment is less than absolute? What part of "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" does Ms. Bellows not understand?

By Cicero the Federalist on 2013 01 26, 5:03 am CST

Having earned my bar card at almost 50 years old, a retired military officer and gun owner, I thought that being a member of the ABA was an earned honor. After only two years it was apparent to me that the organization is simply another political agenda oriented club that will let anyone in that is willing to pay the dues. It will appear to the average person that Ms Bellows speaks for the members of the ABA. Fortunately, that is not true. The mainstream media however, will surely comment on how, "even the lawyers in the US as represented by the ABA, support the proposal. Excuse me whilst I go throw-up. Ms. Bellows, focus on things that will make our profession more honorable and respected. Leave the political commentary and taking sides to the politicians.

By FL Atty on 2013 01 26, 8:27 am CST

The problem, as I see it, is that many in the ABA Leadership are cultural liberals who suffer from what has become known as 'Pauline Kael-Syndrome' - - - the condition that because they don't know anybody with views different from their own (such as on gun ownership) they must not exist in real numbers. The Syndrome is named after film critic Pauline Kael who expressed bafflement over the re-eection of Richard Nixon in 1972 since nobody she knew voted for him.

I would challenge the ABA Leadership to take steps to escape from their cultural myopia. Get to know attorneys who own and use firearms and believe in the Second Amendment. Visit a firing range and get a hands on understanding of these firearms you seek to ban.

To put this in modern terms, it would seem that some diversity training might be in order for the ABA Leadership.

By Yankee on 2013 01 26, 1:00 pm CST

This is disgraceful. The ABA should remain an objective organization. You have clearly stated you are part of an extension of the democratic liberal agenda of which not everyone in the legal profession agrees with. I suggest that the liberals running this organization re-read the Second Amendment. You have just decided against our constitutional rights. Shame on you! The rest of us should rally to organize a new Bar Association consistent with the objectives of the Constitution.

By maggie on 2013 01 26, 3:19 pm CST

Shame on you! This president ought to be replaced! YOu should be supporting this Constitution. Let's replace this president or form a new organization. Not all of us attorneys agree with your liberal agenda.

By Mae Maggie on 2013 01 26, 3:23 pm CST

Who does Laurel Bellows think she is, endorsing an assault weapons bill on behalf of the ABA without putting it to vote by the ABA? What does this issue have to do with the ABA? Time to cancel my membership. I live in a very small rural community, population 873. My taxes are increasing but the funding for law enforcement is decreasing. The Sheriff of my county has encouraged everyone to become armed due to the long response time for his department. Yes, ARs shoot many bullets quickly, and that is exactly what I need to protect my family, since the government would rather spend my money somewhere other than on law enforcement to protect my family. Don't tax me more, decrease my law enforcement, and then take my guns away too.

By Small Town Lawyer on 2013 01 26, 4:06 pm CST

I won't be renewing my ABA membership because of this.

By Daniel Page on 2013 01 26, 4:30 pm CST

I think many of the posters misunderstand. This is not accidental conduct by Laurel Bellows, nor has it been in any way accidental when prior ABA officers took similar actions (as with the pro-abortion positition some years back). The socialist cadre in the "ABA leadership" know that it will cause members who disagree with them to leave the ABA and that is exactly what they intend every time they do this. The occasional plaintive musings about membership decline and the pretense that anyone not left of center is welcome in the ABA are simply dishonest. Laurel Bellows does not like you, Laurel Bellows does not even respect you, and Laurel Bellows wants you to get out. Since the association's ostensible "rules" don't allow her to personally call each and every person who politically disagrees with her, to officially tell them to get out, she is doing it this way instead. There is not another sensible interpretation of her actions. Your ABA dues at work.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 26, 5:02 pm CST

Of course they approve of Feinstein's idea. They're idiots.

Why not just make certain places gun free, banning all firearms in schools and universities?

What? They did that already? And these things happen in such zones anyway?

And they think THIS law is going to fix the problem?

Yeah, they do. Because they are idiots.

By Robert on 2013 01 26, 6:42 pm CST

If Bobby Jindal runs for president on a pro-2nd Amendment ticket, I'll vote for him. He will be the first Republican presidential nominee I'll ever have voted for. (But I might require him to seriously and repeatedly discuss how conserving the environment as a conservative responsibility given to us by God.)

What in the world was the ABA thinking? Were I a member, I'd quit.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 01 27, 4:41 am CST

I am a lawyer. Until I read this article I was an ABA member as well. I just put my membership card and my membership renewal letter into the paper shredder. For this atrocity, the ABA will never get another dime from me.

By Jason L. Van Dyke on 2013 01 27, 7:08 am CST

Good for the ABA. When the ABA came out in support of Civil Rights, segregationists and homophobes declared they'd drop their ABA Membership. The ABA is still here and doing God's work.

By Vic Sage on 2013 01 27, 8:27 am CST

@247 ". . . and doing God’s work."

And, who would have known that the American Bar Association was a ministry?

By Yankee on 2013 01 27, 2:06 pm CST

So, the ABA is on a Jihad, now. Why can't God do God's work? Is God a corporation?

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 27, 2:23 pm CST

I was going to call them on it, but did anyone else notice that the ABA reported that the AR-15 is an automatic weapon?

By Joshua Neuman on 2013 01 27, 2:41 pm CST

I am here! I have come down to say that Vic Sage is correct! I, The Lord, am a paying member to the ABA, but I am, like many of my children, greatly disappointed that they are not taking my opinion into account. I have summoned them several times in their dreams and asked them why they did not take a poll to see what the ABA members wanted them to represent! But the ABA Officials just looked at me and say "no comments."

So the truth is no Vic Sage, they are not doing My work, or properly representing their members.

By G-d on 2013 01 27, 2:47 pm CST

Yet another reason why I am happy that I let my ABA membership lapse. The ABA should not be taking stances on political issues. Moreover, the ABA should be taking no part of any actions that seek to undermine the constitution.

Absolutely pathetic.

By Florida Attorney on 2013 01 27, 4:45 pm CST

As usual when he's serious, Mr. McLeod makes several valid points in his remarks at 11. This may not be an issue the ABA as an organization should take a position on, but then again the organization was criticized for supporting the Civil Rights Act. Sometimes the issue is one which the profession should take a position on. For those of you who have engaged in personal attacks, I would remind you that Senator Feinstein became Mayor of San Francisco when her predecessor was murdered and Representative McCarthy lost her husband and son in the Long Island Railroad shooting. Their experience with guns has been at the receiving end and we would do well to remember that.
I own three shotguns and a rifle and I believe the Second Amendment gives me a right to own them. But there are limits. Heller specifically upheld the prior Miller case which upheld the National Fire Arms Act's ban on fully automatic weapons and sawed off shotguns as weapons which were not suitable for the militia. There is a vast difference between regulation and abolition and regulating the type of arms available to the public is within Congress' power to regulate the militia under Art. I Sect. 8 which the Second Amendment does not repeal, and that is what the reference to "a well regulated militia" means in the Second Amendment. The First Congress presumably referred to a well regulated militia for a reason. In the 18th Century the militia was all citizens who could be called to military service, the Second Amendment with Art. I Sect 8 gives Congress the power to regulate the militia including its weapons.
Mr. McLeod is right, cosmetics don't matter except possibly folding stocks which if the gun can be fired with the stock folded makes it a pistol in my book. The problem is the excessive magazine capacity in both rifles and pistols. These massacres did not occur 50 years ago. Nobody had enough bullets to do this kind of damage. The cops and the crooks carried 6 shot revolvers and even automatic pistols had only 8 or 9. I know the difference between fully and semi-automatic weapons, but in common parlance a semi-automatic was referred to as an automatic and fully automatics as machine guns, as did the military at one time, for example Model 1911 Automatic Colt Pistol. The ban should be on the high capacity magazines for all firearms. The magazines should not be grandfathered, citizens should be given a reasonable time perhaps a year to trade them in for magazines that are legal. The only weapons that should be grandfathered are those with fixed magazines which can't be retrofitted, which will be mostly .22s with tubular magazines. As someone noted the Virginia Tech shooter did not use a rifle but he did use autoloading pistols with 20 round magazines. Ten rounds is more than enough, for hunting or self-defense.

By George Sly on 2013 01 27, 5:31 pm CST

The Second Amendment memorializes the right of individuals to bear arms. The well-regulated militia clause is a preamble providing justification for non-militia individual ownership, so that individuals can match the power of militias.

By ABS on 2013 01 27, 5:57 pm CST

I'm a lawyer and a member of the ABA.

I am disappointed in ABA President Laurel Bellows' support of Senator Feinstein's bill opposing assault weapons. The ABA has no good reason to weigh in with support on this matter.

If this bill passes, which I hope it does not, criminals will still have assault weapons as well as those gun owners who are grandfathered.

This is just another example of politicians and their supporters opting for a band-aid, dealing with symptoms approach.

By Vialo Weis, Jr. on 2013 01 27, 6:01 pm CST

With over 200 comments to this article--the vast majority of which are strongly opposed to (the appropriately named) Ms. Bellows' personal opinion being touted as the position of the ABA membership; with numerous members either immediately quitting the ABA or not renewing their membership over this issue; and with members who even support that position being upset that such a position is taken--it is time that Bellows withdraw her statement with abject apologies or resign her position. I am glad I never spent a dime to support the ABA.

By Faulhaber on 2013 01 27, 6:50 pm CST

Good post # 254. The founding fathers feared the existence of a standing army but decided it was necessary. "Well regulated militia" refers to the military discipline in which the soldier follows the Commander's orders regardless of the soldier's personal feelings. For example: after the War, Nazi soldiers said "We were just following orders". The fact that the militia is "well regulated" makes it vulnerable to be used by a dictator. Congress's ability to cut military funding has no teeth because the Military has the strength to grab what it wants and soldiers must continue to follow orders even when they don't expect to be paid. However, the Commander can order the execution for treason of any uncooperative member of congress and the order of the Commander will be followed because the militia is well regulated.

By ProhibitionCausesViolence on 2013 01 27, 7:21 pm CST

And the ABA wades into politics yet again.... The Chicago leftist stink is upon you, ABA. No wonder the vast majority of American lawyers have no use for you. If you had an ounce of integrity, you would just get it over with and disband, reorganizing explicitly as a leftist lobbying organization.

By Former ABA member. on 2013 01 27, 7:23 pm CST

257 I fail to understand your point. We have an elected government. Article III Sect. 3 defines treason as waging war against the United States or adhering to its enemies giving them aid and comfort. If you are implying that the First Congress and the original states that ratified the Bill of Rights intended to have people use arms to wage war against the government that is a patently false proposition. In the 18th Century all able bodied males were required to serve in the militia. They were also required to furnish their own arms which were either a musket or a rifle. Sidearms were restricted to officers and to cavalrymen. The intent of the Second Amendment is to permit individuals to fulfill their duties as members of the militia and preserve their right to self defense not to wage war against the United States.

By George Sly on 2013 01 27, 7:47 pm CST


The Framers were well-versed in the history of governments turning against their own citizens and saw the individual right to bear arms as distinct from militias. Here, for instance, is Madison in the Federalist Papers, clearly delineating the two concepts as checks and balances against the power of central government:

Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned”

I might also remind you that governments killed over 270 million people in the 20th century.

By ABS on 2013 01 27, 8:41 pm CST

Another contentious political/social issue on which the ABA - its president without membership approval - chooses to take the politically correct / chic stand. One suspects that Ms. Bellows actually hopes to drive out more conservative attorneys to purify the ABA.

By Mich Tex on 2013 01 27, 10:13 pm CST

@259 And, yet, according to the latest Rassmussen 65% of the American public see gun rights as a protection against tyranny.

By Yankee on 2013 01 27, 10:25 pm CST

Yankee @ 262: And 65% of Americans, if asked to find Turkey on an unmarked globe, would probably guess it's over near India. A majority opinion doesn't necessarily mean the majority is historically correct.

By BMF on 2013 01 27, 11:46 pm CST

Of course, not being ABA Members won't stop you whining gun-nuts from posting here.

By Vic Sage on 2013 01 27, 11:49 pm CST

@263 Yep, some times the majority is incorrect. (Not in this case, however.)

By Yankee on 2013 01 28, 12:06 am CST

@Vic Sage

The position of those that support this gun ban is emotion. Feinstein tried to ban this through 4 ther times on state level with no luck. This does not work, and everyone knew that. It was not until the school shooting that people (uninformed people) started staying we have to ban "assault weapons" when they don't even have the slightest clue what that might be.

To prove that it's emotion menu not look at your comment, "the ABA is still here doing Gods work." You are the one making illogical statements.

To say your position is correct, Gods work, and everyone opposing it is a "gun-nut," then you have created a trolling position here, and no one really wants to have a discussion with a troll.

By Joshua Neuman on 2013 01 28, 12:35 am CST

It is probably time the media should do some investigative reporting when ABA officers purport to take these political positions on behalf of the membership. Not only are such claims poorly founded (as shown by the balance of the member commentary here), but the recurrent claim that the association even has "over 400,000" members strikes me as highly dubious.

If you tally the 2011 BLS numbers for lawyers, judicial law clerks, ALJs/hearing officers and judges (i.e., the "legal" occupations minus paralegal and support groups) it comes to 630,280. It seems unlikely to me that the ABA actually includes a majority of those people because of the numbers who have quit over policial positions during the last two decades and the number of colleagues who simply think membership provides little to justify the cost. Does Laurel Bellows have law deans reporting her membership numbers? Maybe someone should check the books.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 28, 12:50 am CST

If this all ties back to the Sandy Hook tragedy, I'd like to point out an evidentiary issue.
Initially, the report was that the murders were solely by four handguns, as four handguns were found in the school, and the assault rifle was found in the trunk of the mother's car in the parking lot. There is video footage of this http
This is the best video I've seen on this fact. (I added a space after the "http", before the colon.) With four handguns found in the school, and the bushmaster found in the trunk of the car, the medical examiner, who I understand is not a member of the ABA, said that all shots fired in the school were from the assault rifle, which to me undermines the credibility of all medical examiners in the US and tends to prove the point that you can always find an expert witness who will say whatever he's told.

Now, if this does not relate to the article above, the Moderator, who is a member of the ABA, will delete this post.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 01 28, 3:05 am CST

Although I support a ban on assault weapons and high magazine clips, universal background checks for anyone who wants to purchase a firearm, and probably even more restrictions than that, I am unsure whether this is an appropriate issue for the ABA's comments. On the other hand, I remember the day a man brought a gun into a Connecticut courthouse (before people were screened for weapons), and killed his spouse's attorney, a judge, and I beleve the soon to be ex-wife as well. Our real problem is the culture of violence so we think everything can be settled with a gun or some other weapon.

By Joyce Antila Phipps on 2013 01 28, 2:13 pm CST

@269: I'm not sure what is meant by a "culture of violence" although it gets repeated a lot these days. Our sports games are "violent", the dialogue in movies and tv these days is "violent" and there's no talk of banning that activity. Law abiding gun owners don't think everything can be settled with a weapon, but we do realize it may take a weapon to protect ourselves from people bent on harming us. The way you phrase that sentence indicates that you make no distinction between the two, which makes you a big part of the real problem. My guns have never injured anyone. Am I part of the culture of violence?

The NRA's monthy magazine has a section called the "armed citiczen' where it chronicles instances around the country where an armed citizen prevented a crime to person or property. The national media has a real talent of consistently avoid covering those stories. Assuming we do have a culture of violence, the last thing anyone should be proposing is disarming law abiding citizens or turning them into criminals by unconstitutional regulation. I am certainly not willing to become an unarmed stabbing victim so that you can feel better about the shooting crime statistics.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 28, 2:45 pm CST

I find the numerous assertions by people claiming to know the intent behind the Second Amendment to be laughable, if the consequences weren't so serious.

There is precious little evidence that any of the Founders had resistance to our government in mind, putting aside that fact that the text of the Amendment, prefatory clause and all, offers zero support for that notion. A close look at many of the quotes that are selectively chosen and offered in support of the "anti tyranny" theory indicates that the tyranny they refer to is European monarchical tyranny. At the time, we were the only extant examples of an alternative mode of governance. So what many trumpet as a clause against US governmental tyranny was intended by most of the Founders to be a protection, in the form of a militia comprised of armed individuals, for the fledgling United States. That's why the prefatory clause references, not free individuals, but a free State. Indeed, every use of the militia in the United States up to the Civil War was in support of the State (indeed, even that was was in support of the rights of States).

The Founders established a guarantor of freedom that they were very proud of and that they spent considerable intellectual resources in crafting. That's our system of separation of powers, checks and balances, procedures for voting representation and so no. The notion that they inserted a clause that negates all of that and empowers citizens to launch an armed insurrection is laughable. Were that the case, where is the language in the text of any clause of the Constititution that suppotts that radical claim? It isn't there.

Even the most baby lawyer knows that the written text governs ahead of interpretations based on the purported intent of the drafters.

By Tim on 2013 01 28, 2:48 pm CST

@271--Wow. Alternative universe meet Tim. Who would like to hit this softball out of the park?

By soprano on 2013 01 28, 2:54 pm CST

Some of the original gun control nuts in this country were the Democrats who made it illegal for blacks to own guns in the south. Blacks needed to appropriate their 2nd Amendment rights to protect themselves against the terrorist wing of the Democrat Party, aka the KKK. The NRA made it possible tor black chapters to exist because the local law enforcement wasn't going to help. With Democrats, the more things change.........................

By SlipKid on 2013 01 28, 2:57 pm CST

So point me to something in the Constitution that even hints at a right to armed insurrection. For any reasons. Anything.

Well, we have Article Three, Section 3. It calls that Treason. So I guess we have one specific textual example that says the right does not exist.

By Tim on 2013 01 28, 2:57 pm CST

Don't get me wrong. I am a supporter of the Second Amendment. I think the ABA should have stayed out of this fight. I even think Scalia largely came out right on Heller, though I think some of his reasoning was strained and inconsistent with his purported philosophy.

I just have a thing about people making assertions that are profoundly ahistorical, Constitutionally ignorant and more than a little self-serving.

By Tim on 2013 01 28, 3:04 pm CST

This is yet another reason why I would never reinstate my ABA membership. Why would the ABA feel compelled to take a position on this issue?

BTW, perhaps if the ABA decides to write these type of opinion letters, it could at least do the research and get the terminology correct. "Clip" should be replaced with "magazine." But, why should the use of correct words matter when the Constitution doesn't?

By Maryland Esquire on 2013 01 28, 3:06 pm CST

@276: The reason the ABA and DiFi use the wrong firearm terminology is because everything they know about guns they've learned from tv shows and the movies.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 28, 3:19 pm CST

This is a completely inappropriate move by the ABA. They will not get any more dues from this lawyer.

By silencedogood on 2013 01 28, 3:34 pm CST

It seems that Ms. Bellows has quickly forgotten her pledge that " we will fulfill our obligations to the American system of justice that has, from our origins as a nation, depended on lawyers to defend Americans’ liberties.”

By richard vary on 2013 01 28, 5:07 pm CST

@266 The position of those that support this gun ban is emotion

The position of those against this bill is emotion. When it comes to guns, logic and reason left the building a long time ago, thanks to the NRA and it shills.

By Vic Sage on 2013 01 28, 5:28 pm CST

@280 The position of those against this bill is firmly grounded on the words of the Constitution: ". . . the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." This bill is all about 'infringing.'

By Yankee on 2013 01 28, 5:33 pm CST

Laurel Bellows, it is time for your resignation...

I will not renew my membership, ever...

By At what point does Liberty die? on 2013 01 28, 5:36 pm CST

We do not need to resign from the ABA and give up our voice.
Laurel Bellows is the one who needs to resign just after she reverses her position.

By GR8GU3 on 2013 01 28, 5:51 pm CST

@Jim McQueen:

"The ABA is in part a lobbying organization, just like the NRA, and I think it is highly appropriate for it to support a bill that is undoubtedly something the membership would substantially support."

The American Bar Association wasn't organized to advance or oppose gun control legislation. It's a legal professional organization dedicated to regulating the profession. Furthermore, no effort was made to poll membership about its support. The membership's position would be far away from "undoubtedly... in substantial support" of the measures as evidenced by the above comments.

By Blammm on 2013 01 28, 5:59 pm CST

I left Friday at noon about comment # 175, to go duck hunting with my SEMI automatic shotgun and a pump shotgun. Left my 8 shot .22 revolver in the car. No crimes were committed.

Seldom do comments carry over until Monday; we are now at 282 and still rising. Often when there are a high number of comments it's from a dialogue between a few posters. Not this time.

I see that the error about the mechanics of the gun was corrected. But no word on President Bellows' authority to speak for the ABA on this and like this.

Posts are overwhelming--I'd guess 98%--that the ABA has no business announcing a position and that President Bellows exceded her authority--even those who support her position say this.

We did find there is a "gun violence" committee byut no information about where that committee is found, when it meets, members, authority, etc.

I have worked with an ABA lobbyist when the ABA, with proper authority, lobbied against pending legislation that would directly affect and harm lawyers, as well as the judicial process on that subject. Is the president sending our paid lobbyist to the Hill on this one, too?

Is she aware that a huge percentage of members oppose her taking a position, and just about as many oppose her position as well?

How about a follow-up from the reporter?

By Hadley V. Baxendale on 2013 01 28, 6:12 pm CST

"when it comes to guns, logical and reason left the building a long time ago, thanks to the NRA"

Not only did you fail in finding a way to deny my statement about why your position is an emotional one, but you also continue to prove my point that your attitude is emotional.

In this specific statement of yours, you mention how nothing about your position, but about how everyone else's opinions are illogical and unreasonable.

It is hard to deny, this whole bill along with the people that back it had lost after 2004. It wasn't until the recent shootings that the emotional misinformed media and public that they started to have some more power.

I will not support a ban that creates a fake category of weapons ("assault weapons") that look scary, just to ban them.

We can sit here and argue all day, but I think we both know that, from this recent comment as well as previous comments, you are speaking from a very emotional point of view.

By Joshua Neuman on 2013 01 28, 6:14 pm CST

Vic Sage @ 280: Not all of us who grew up in a "gun culture" are ruled by emotion. And many of us can think of better things to do with our money than join the NRA.

What irks me is that this legislation is redundant, ineffective, and the product of legislators who have no idea what they're attempting to legislate. Bad law usually winds up costing taxpayers more money than it's worth.

Straw purchases of weapons are practically ancient history from a law enforcement standpoint. Regardless of one's feelings about drug cartels, organized crime, and other garden variety conspirators, most of these people have a better head for business than certain major banking officers. Why should criminals pay a markup to a straw purchaser when they can steal guns, purchase them out of the country at a lower cost, purchase them over the internet from people who will sell--no questions asked, or in some cases, manufacture the automatic weapons themselves?


By BMF on 2013 01 28, 6:14 pm CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By Name removed by moderator on 2013 01 28, 6:27 pm CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By Name removed by moderator on 2013 01 28, 6:30 pm CST

I advised the ABA some time ago that I was not interested in being a member. I did this because I felt the ABA was a liberal group which did not reflect my views. I see yet again that I made the correct decision.

By George Cherniak on 2013 01 28, 6:39 pm CST

There is a First Amendment Committee that, "works within the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities to protect and advance First Amendment freedoms."
It would be interesting to determine if ABA members could establish a Second Amendment Committee to protect and advance Second Amendment freedoms.

By 82Bulldog on 2013 01 28, 7:23 pm CST

@292 If the ABA establishes a Second Amendment Committee, I have no doubt that they'll be able to populate it with members.

By Yankee on 2013 01 28, 7:29 pm CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By Name removed by moderator on 2013 01 28, 7:35 pm CST

Tim @ 271 and following, I give you an A+.

Ever since I even heard of the argument that the 2nd Amendment was to protect us from our own (Constitutional form of) government, I've sort of halfway believed that the argument was created, or at least promoted, by gun control advocates who would paint gun aficionados as nutty, out-of-touch, and a destabilizing influence in our civil society. The way I look at it now, right at this moment, is really best posed as a couple of questions: if a Constitutional Amendment passed, under our Constitutionally prescribed procedures, that prevented the ownership of militia style weapons, would I still love our Constitution and our Constitutional form of government here in the US? Or would I miss my right to my toys more? With which do I identify more, our Constitution and Constitutional form of government, or with my guns? These are not easy questions to answer. These are painful questions, actually. But of course I love the Constitution, I identify with the Constitution and with our Constitutional form of government, and I still love the remaining rights in the Bill of Rights more than I love my toys. Freedom of speech and the freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances? Freedom of and from religion? I would not exchange those for the world. I would not throw the baby out with the bath water. I wouldn't emigrate from the USA just because of a Militia Style Gun Prohibition Amendment. We got rid of one Prohibition Amendment. When calmer heads return, we could throw out another Prohibition Amendment.

Now the gun control nuts? Well, actually I don't think they identify with the Constitution as much as I do. Does that make them less moral? Less intelligent? Less important? No. Do their views call into question their loyalty to our Constitution and to our Constitutional form of government? I think it does. So are they less patriotic? You tell me.

That "2nd Amendment prevents our elected government's ability to tyrannize us" argument is a bogus argument designed by or at least promoted by gun control advocates to make gun aficionados look dangerous. I don't buy into it, and apparently neither does Tim @ 271.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 01 28, 7:37 pm CST

@ PALaw #1:
"Camoflauge is also military-style, and has as much effect on lethality as those things that define “assault weapons” under Feinstein’s laws."

Don't give her more ideas . . . .

By Been There on 2013 01 28, 7:51 pm CST

One way to reach Laurel Bellows & tell her what you think - invite her to
join you on LinkedIn. You'll get a notice every time she publishes another
idiotic comment and, if she accepts your invitation (which, as all political
hacks do when they think they're building their uninformed voter base,
she'll probably do) you'll be able to send messages directly to her via your
LinkedIn connection.

I just sent her an invitation myself.

Here's a link to her LinkedIn page:

For those who'd like to contact Laurel Bellows directly, her email address

Any other ideas of how to penetrate her ivory tower??

By ReaderoftheConstitution on 2013 01 28, 7:53 pm CST

@294: You can't even pose your questions honestly. 'Would you miss your toys more?' 'Constitutional form of government OR guns'. Typical liberal argumentation of strawmen and false choices. I assume that you think that the "calmer heads" agree with you. How self-congratulatory, how moral.

I won't lose a minute's sleep over whether you think gun-toting lawyers meet your definition of patriotism.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 28, 7:53 pm CST

SlipKid @ 297, I'm assuming you are a slip and fall personal injury attorney? Not based on your name, just based on your baseless attack. I own an assault rifle. I would not vote for Bobby Jindal in 2016 UNLESS he was pro-2nd Amendment (and talked about how God wants us to protect the environment.)

The problem with you SlipKid is the problem with conservative Republicans generally. Republicans want to raise the drawbridge Before enough non-zombies have crossed over and have entered the fold to Ensure a Large enough Number of zombie Fighters Necessary to Defeat the zombie hoards.

Don't worry. I'm not going to cross over your drawbridge. Thanks, but no thanks. When the zombies start eating your brains? Tell 'em "hi" for me.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 01 28, 8:16 pm CST

Is there an alternative national bar association I'm not aware of? If so, please let me know as I'm dropping the ABA.

By Christopher in Detroit on 2013 01 28, 8:45 pm CST

@298: A little out of touch with reality, are we? The nuttiness is running pretty deep where you're standing. Anyone who refers to guns as 'toys' and so effortlessly divorces the 2nd Amendment from the Bill of Rights makes me wonder about their level of responsibility.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 28, 9:02 pm CST

responding to 271's comments:

"There is precious little evidence that any of the Founders had resistance to our government in mind,"

There was an ongoing debate in the 1780s about "the people" fighting governmental tyranny (as described by Anti-Federalists); or the risk of mob rule of "the people" (as described by the Federalists) related to the ongoing revolution in France. A widespread fear, during the debates on the ratification of the Constitution, was the possibility of a military takeover of the states by the federal government, which could happen if the Congress passed laws prohibiting states from arming citizens, or prohibiting citizens from arming themselves. "Boston, March 17". N. Y. J., Supplement: 1, Col.3. April 13, 1769. qtd. in Halbrook, A Right to Bear Arms, p. 7. (thanks Wikipedia)

"the text of the Amendment, prefatory clause and all, offers zero support for that notion."

They were worried about the security of a "free state" (not the nation as a whole, but the free states comprising the United States. Security from what? From a potential military takeover by the federal government. So yes, the text of the 2nd Amendment itself, offers support for the notion that they were concerned that our beloved federal government would become tyrannical.

"A close look at many of the quotes that are selectively chosen and offered in support of the “anti tyranny” theory indicates that the tyranny they refer to is European monarchical tyranny. At the time, we were the only extant examples of an alternative mode of governance. So what many trumpet as a clause against US governmental tyranny was intended by most of the Founders to be a protection, in the form of a militia comprised of armed individuals, for the fledgling United States. . . . "

No support for any of this nonsense. You don't even identify the straw man quotes you are attacking. Try this quote on for size: "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. . . . But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." You see how they use the words "any Form of Government." That means they are not only talking about the English monarchy. They recognized the capacity for "any Form of Government" to become destructive to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, the entire structure of the US Constiution was designed to try to prevent or at least slow down the federal government from becoming tyrannical.

"That’s our system of separation of powers, checks and balances, procedures for voting representation and so no. The notion that they inserted a clause that negates all of that and empowers citizens to launch an armed insurrection is laughable."

Actually it is exactly those checks and balances, etc. that should clue you in to how concerned they were about the government becoming tyrannical.

"Were that the case, where is the language in the text of any clause of the Constititution that suppotts that radical claim? It isn’t there.
Even the most baby lawyer knows that the written text governs ahead of interpretations based on the purported intent of the drafters. "

There is language and structure in the text to support the interpretation that the right to bear arms was in part at least intended as a bulwark against tyranny. In addition, there is plenty of other evidence in the legislative history, so to speak, which even the most baby lawyers know is at least relevant in detemining intent, when the text is not determinative.

By protection against tyranny on 2013 01 28, 9:04 pm CST

Ah, but do you see how the words "any form of government" are not in the Constitution, but in the Declaration of Independence? Also there is no "s" on the end of the phrase "Free State". So, again I feel the need to ask: With which do you identify more, the Constitution, or militia style arms? I'm not trying to be a jerk, stupid, or even annoying. Do you love America more, or your guns, if it came down to it?

Look, I'm hot to vote for a pro-2nd Amendment, Republican Bobby Jindal for President in 2016, as long as I've heard him say a few times that "God wants us to protect our environment".

"So what?" You might say. "Who cares about who you want to vote for?" You might ask. Well, I voted for Obama for president twice. I think that gives me a bit of status that y'all Republicans here don't have. I've never voted for a Republican for president in my life. And only because, damn it, they're going after my guns!

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 01 28, 9:54 pm CST

I tend to agree with President George H.W. Bush, who in the 1990s disgustedly tore up his lifetime NRA membership in response to that group's endless belatings against legislation restricting the sale of automatic weapons following the deaths of David Koresh and Randy Weaver and those in their cults.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 28, 9:58 pm CST

Stuff like this is why I did not renew my ABA membership a long time ago.

By ABA is a Joke on 2013 01 28, 9:59 pm CST

Why isn't the ABA House of Delegates howling for President Bellow's resignation letter over this? Folks need to write their ABA House of Delegate representatives to demand her resignation.

This action is an atrocious breach of ethics and power on President Bellow's part. No matter what other good she has done in her tenure, it is now overshadowed by this despicable, ultra vires action.

By Idaho Lawyer on 2013 01 28, 10:17 pm CST

@302: Again, you present false choices. My America is inseparable from guns. What you call "toys" the rest of us who are law abiding call implements of self defense and to prevent tyranny from our own government if need be. The fact that you voted for Obama and yet are pro-2nd Amendment means one of two things; (1) you are being dishonest here or (2) you are one of the most clueless voters this country has produced.

@303: As a conservative, let me be the first to enlighten you; the Bushes weren't conservatives. Not surprising you would oppose the 2nd Amendment. Apparently you oppose the 4th and 5th Amendments too when it comes to groups or individuals you don't like.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 28, 10:17 pm CST

The Business Law section's spring meeting brochure has this posted:

Diversity Networking Reception
Wednesday, April 3 | 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
One of the most eagerly anticipated events—and
the kickoff to the Spring Meeting—is the Networking Reception hosted by the Diversity Committee. We welcome all attendees who share our vision and are interested in recruiting and retaining lawyers of color; women lawyers; lawyers with disabilities; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lawyers; young lawyers; and law students for active involvement in the Section.

Seems that if they want diversity, they should seek out gun owners now--what few remain. Clearly, diversity of opinion on national issues is not a goal of the ABA.

By Hadley V. Baxendale on 2013 01 28, 10:51 pm CST


We can indeed throw out our form of government if we wish--the Founders gave us the right to amend any part of the Constitution. They set out the means to do it, in the text, and at length. They knew precisely how to say what they intended. Alas, there is not a single word in the Constitution that supports those means involving violence against the State. The only reference to the use of arms against the State is in opposition to the interpretation you offer. Accordingly, we have to conclude that the Constitution not only offers no support for the principle that the Second Amendment is intended to give a means of armed opposition to the State, it stands in stark opposition to that principle.

By Tim on 2013 01 28, 10:57 pm CST

Tom Youngjohn, @302, writes: "... there is no “s” on the end of the phrase “Free State”. So, again I feel the need to ask: With which do you identify more, the Constitution, or militia style arms? ..

Sir, like yourself, I was a youngjohn many years ago (now I am a middle-aged one), and, like yourself, share a passion for interpreting constitutions, statutes, contracts, and the like the way, -except in the rarest of circumstances- they are supposed to be interpreted: exactly as written.

Your analysis, which essentially is that there is no individual right to bear arms but rather that such right belongs to state-run militias, contains two grievous interpretive errors.

The first is that you believe Congress intentionally interchanged two different words: "State" and "people"

Were that not folly enough on its own, we simply have to look elsewhere in the Bill of Rights to another amendment passed by Congress the very same day: the Tenth Amendment.

The Tenth Amendment states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, OR to the people." "OR" to the people. "O" "R" to the people. Neither "The States", nor any one of them, are "people" in the Bill of Rights.

The first clause in the Second Amendment provides one of the many justifications for the right of the people to bear arms, which is that state militias would have arms. The other reasons didn't need to be recited, since people of that era were not as dumbed-down by public relations experts and the mainstream media as they are today. State militias were a new idea; it was obvious that a right to bear arms would provide protection for individuals against a tyrannical central government. Tyrannical central governments were practically all that anyone at the time had ever known.

By DirkJohanson on 2013 01 28, 10:59 pm CST

Even though I consider myself far on the liberal side of most political issues, I intend to terminate my ABA-membership unless a convincing response is issued (e.g. via email to all members) to the many valid objections on this page.

The ABA is supposed to represent our joint interests as lawyers and remain neutral on controversial political issues! Politically, there are at least two very valid views on the issue of gun control and representing the legal profession as a whole does not by itself warrant either of them. It is therefore highly inappropriate for this organization to take sides on this issue and claiming to represent its members without even asking them. I feel highly uncomfortable if an association of which I am a member for professional reasons claims to represent my political views. The ABA simply has no authority to do so and in doing so clearly crossed a line.

From a legal point of view, the Constitution of the United States provides that " the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." I have sworn an oath to protect this constitution, as I assume, most of us have. As lawyers, it is our duty to respect laws, even such with which we do not agree. Any federal legislation therefore must either meet the standard of the Second Amendment (and there are a lot of legal arguments supporting the view that the currently proposed legislation is not in conformity with the Second Amendment), or find a sufficient majority for another constitutional amendment. Politically, of course, everybody has the right to support legislation changing the current law, including the constitution. However, anybody who claims to represent other people when making a political statement, should get their consent first. The ABA clearly did not obtain the consent of its membership. It should therefore have stayed out of this issue.

Personally, I happen to not support stricter gun control, as I believe in the second amendment and do not believe that tightening the noose for law-abiding people is going to produce the desired outcome of reducing gun violence. However, I do acknowledge that there are very sensible arguments in favor of stricter gun control and an "assault weapons ban" as well and therefore both sides have absolutely valid opinions.

The ABA must have been aware that its own membership is at least divided on this issue as well. Overstepping its authority and making a political claim in the name of its members was thus highly unprofessional. As I do not want my membership to be counted in support of political opinions with which I may disagree, I will terminate my membership unless the ABA issues a clarification and pledges to refrain from making political statements on matters unrelated to the practice of law and the representation of the professional interests of lawyers in future.

By Ed on 2013 01 28, 11:02 pm CST

Glad I decided to drop out of this worthless organization a couple of years ago. I was an active member. These statist fools don't understand what the original objective of the organization was, and nothing is ever going to change.

By Conrad Thompson on 2013 01 28, 11:31 pm CST

Bellows should abjectly apologize and resign. In this matter she has absolutely no right to announce a policy that apparently so many members (thank God I'm not one) disagree with.

By Faulhaber on 2013 01 28, 11:57 pm CST

Wow, like hey, I knew we really, really had, like, a problem, the very day of the "turtles on flagpoles" speech. But, like, lighten up dude, because somebody probably just wrote this letter and hey, got Laurel to, like, wow, sign her name to it, you know?

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 29, 12:36 am CST

@307 - Excellent Point regarding lack of diversity regarding ideas.
The gun violence committee is essentially comprised of NY, DC and CA lawyers. Where is the diversity within that committee?
Where is the committee representing contrary views?

By 82bulldog on 2013 01 29, 12:37 am CST

This is why I cancelled my ABA membership last year. The ABA is supposed to be a professional organization and not grind a poltical agenda from EITHER side of the aisle. (I also have a problem with my state bar taking poltical stances but sadly I have to pay those fees).

By W&L Law on 2013 01 29, 1:13 am CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 01 29, 3:36 am CST

Vic Sage was hysterical. I love the sound of Liberals whining about conservatives whining, sounds like whining, or a volvo with a loose belt.

By ERISANation on 2013 01 29, 3:53 am CST

I love the sound of liberals whining about conservatives whining, sounds like whining, or a volvo with a loose belt dropping the kids off at Montessori.

By ERISANation on 2013 01 29, 3:54 am CST

@281 Thanks for proving my point.

By Vic Sage on 2013 01 29, 6:25 am CST

I am a lawyer and have practiced law since 1994. Due to the ABA's hostile stance against the Second Amendment, or an apparent gross misunderstanding of said Amendment, I have never joined. Reading this article reaffirms why I am not a member. As long as they decide to act contrary to the oath that we as attorneys take, to uphold and follow the Constitution, I will never join.

By Joe in Ohio on 2013 01 29, 3:35 pm CST

All - The following was sent to President Bellows yesterday while copying as many member of the House of Delegates for whom email addresses were easily found.

President Bellows:

I am respectfully requesting that you provide, with specificity, the exact process undertaken by the ABA that lead up to the letters you sent by to Sen. Feinstein and Rep. McCarthy wherein you endorsed the Assault Weapons Regulatory Act of 2013 while supposedly speaking on the behalf of the 400,000 ABA members. I need to understand how the ABA decided to take a position on this matter; who exactly was involved in that decision making process; and in particular, how the decision was made that the position being taken was in fact, representative of the options and thoughts of the membership at large on this topic.

In particular, I do not recall being asked by the ABA whether this position was one that I supported. I am particularly distressed that as a member of the AMA, that I am being held out as being supportive of a piece of legislation in which I do not believe the ABA has any business in taking a position on one way or the other. What is most distressing is that I have been put in this position without being consulted or having had an opportunity to voice my opinion on the action. Had I been consulted, I would have responded in the negative. I can find no information as to how this came about. As such, I ask that you come forward and explain how this happened.

Having read the overwhelmingly negative responses by the membership to the endorsement, I find it hard to believe that there is in fact, majority support of your actions. I believe that it is critical that you now be forthcoming and completely transparent by informing the membership with as much detail as possible as to the process undertaken by yourself and/or others that resulted in the sending of the letters.

I have copied as many members of the House of Delegates for whom it was possible to quickly find email addresses. I would invite any members of the House to also provide their insights on the process. I thank you for your prompt attention to this extremely serious matter.

It will now be interesting to see whether any response is forthcoming from ABA leadership. I would hope that they would have the courtesy and recognize their responsibility to repsond.

By DBB on 2013 01 29, 3:38 pm CST

Just filled out a survey and then cancelled my membership. Damn, that felt good!

By SlipKid on 2013 01 29, 3:42 pm CST

The ABA has no business taking this position. I am a longtime member and am cancelling. This position of the ABA should offend any person capable of a rational thought. Sadly, too few in the ABA have such capability and therefore I no longer seek to associate with them.

By Mark Johnson on 2013 01 29, 4:31 pm CST

This is the last straw. I am cancelling my membership the moment I finish writing this comment.

By Cancelling now. on 2013 01 29, 4:48 pm CST

@ 324 & others: Hopefully you all asked that the pro-rata portion of your unused dues be returned. The ABA won't do a thing unless it [potentially] affects their purse immediately.

By BMF on 2013 01 29, 5:13 pm CST

#306 -- George HW Bush was hardly anti-Second Amendment. He owned guns and had been a life NRA member.

But the NRA's dangerously illogical insistence that any restrictions on the ownership of certain types of weapons is the first step on a slippery slope to the Second Amendment's full scale repeal was too divorced from reality even for him -- just as time/place/manner restrictions on political speech are not the first step towards the repeal of the First Amendment.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 29, 5:18 pm CST

#326: I never said that H.W. Bush was anti-2nd Amendment. Owning guns doesn't a 2nd Amendment advocate make. Every gangbanger in Obama's hometown owns guns but I doubt that most can articulate a Constitutional argument in support of the 2nd Amendment. In fact, they probably support gun control to make their activities less risky.

The NRA's insistence is in view of the fact that since Feinstein's bill will not curb the violence that it purports to, like the Newtown massacre, there is an obvious ulterior motive. Any bill that restricts the rights of law abiding citizens and does nothing about say stricter mandatory sentencing guidelines; or fails to realize that "gun free zones" are target rich environments for the murderous types, is properly identified as a slippery slope.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 29, 5:33 pm CST

@326 Did you bother to read the article above? It did not propose "RESTRICTIONS on ownership of certain types of weapons", but rather proposed a "BAN the sale, transfer and importation of 120 specially named firearms" - - - among MANY other unhappy features intended to "infringe" on a citizen's right to bear arms. The one being extreme here is clearly Senator Feinstein and NOT the National Rifle Association.

To demonstrate exactly who is being "extreme" here, let me respectfully suggest the following: Let's put Feinstein bill in current form (without amendment) up for a vote in the Senate and House of Representatives. Not only would the bill fail in both Houses of Congress but MANY Democrats would vote AGAINST it!

By Yankee on 2013 01 29, 5:34 pm CST

This is why I have refused to join the ABA over the years and will continue to do so. When I get the solicitation call, I always decline to join and I tell them why. "Because the ABA is opposed to the bill of rights and is anti-gun."

The do need the fees though to support that impressive building here in DC though. They are only a couple blocks away from my office and on some days, I swear I can detect their smell.

By Chris Thomas on 2013 01 29, 5:35 pm CST

I have been a member since 2001. No more!

In light of this lobbying effort: Not another dime of dues from this lawyer.

In fact, I will be contributing that money that would otherwise be spent subsidizing the ABA towards the NRA and the GOA.

I will miss my Quarterly copy of "Litigation" but little else.

By Scott A McMillan on 2013 01 29, 5:38 pm CST

DBB--good letter, but good luck. Since there is a pro-gun control committee* with a stated objective of more gun regulation, I think we may find that Bellows followed "proper" procedure.

From my observation and participation at the leadership level and in a lobbying effort, her eis how it can work: The ABA is run by a hierarchy of committees. There are sections, which have committees, which have sub-committees. Some have 'task forces" or other working groups. There are also "ad hoc" committees that can bridge across sections with common interests--a "bankruptcy courts' ad hoc committee can draw from the Business, Litigation and General Practice sections.

The gun control committee comes from the Criminal Law Section.

While the committees should represent various views within its topic (patients and doctors in the med mall area, for example), they naturally drift, by self selection and no sinister motive, to those of common thought (all plaintiff med mal, for example). This one-sided perspective works its way out of sub-committees and eventually up to the sections, so when a section announces "its" position, it is more likely the position of the dozen or fewer active members of the task force/sub-comittee/working group. Never is the membership, by section or as a whole, polled on a position.

Meanwhile the delegates seem to follow their section leadership. A particular delegate may focus on a topic within her expertise or committee activity, but she will also follow the recommendations of other active constituents on other matters.

So with the delegate/representative government, not a democracy, it's very easy for a stacked subcommittee to get its hand in the sock puppet at the top.

*its mission statement concludes with "in which firearms are well-regulated toward that end.”

By Hadley V. Baxendale on 2013 01 29, 5:43 pm CST

Don't drop out of the ABA but keep your membership and if you are nor currently a member, then join as I must. We then need to elect our fellow members who believe in the Constitution to the BOD and bring the ABA back to an orginazition supporting attorneys and the Constitution rather that a lobby orginization for those with a personal unconstitutional and minority political agenda. This is not just a gun issue but a protection of our form of government. Remenber what Shakspear said in the Hamlet, Prince of Denmark "First let us kill all the lawyers". An ABA that does not stand for the Constitution and the role of attorneys to protect it is a vehicle of distruction of the rights of individuals and ultimately our freedom.
I have witnessed a lot in my 71&1/2 years including violance and self defense. Most gun owners are not the crazies that cause the protest but collectors and hunters. The fact that I collect rare books, one of which aspouses that blacke are a sub-race, does not make me a races anymore than owning guns makes me a mass killer.
Though the 2nd Amandmant talks of a " well armed militia, the real need for you to own a gun is in the event of social breakdow from a natural cause and you need to protect yourself, your family and your property. There are not enough police to protect all in what we seem to witness ever year or so and the rampany criminal activity arising therefrom.
The ABA need our kind not the idealest that think that taking sims autimatic weapons from us would have saved the Sandy Hook shooting victims (which did not even involve a simi automatic but rather four pistols) would have saved lives are misguided.

By GR8GU3 on 2013 01 29, 5:57 pm CST

I contacted the media rep for the ABA who promised me that I'd receive by email the statement explaining how the ABA came up with this endorsement. It hasn't arrived.

So, I called up membership and simply cancelled my membership. I don't remember what my dues were, but they were significant as the pro-rated portion that is being refunded to me is $326.

That is $326 less of my money that will be used to proselytize to eliminate our Freedoms.

I really feel stupid for paying what has amounted to thousands of dollars over all these years.

By Scott A McMillan ABA ID 00821411 on 2013 01 29, 5:57 pm CST

@ Hadley - have you seen the ABA Constitution or Bylaws? Without a formal vote by the House of Delegates, an individual ABA member, the President included, cannot take a stand on a particular issue in the name of the ABA. In fact, according to the Bylaws, Section 25.1, the President or his or her representative can only make a policy statement on behalf of the entire ABA that has been announced by the House of Delegates. A single committee or subcommittee's statement of purpose does not drive this entire organization.

Which ever way one falls on the political issue, President Bellows is out of line. Period.

By Idaho Lawyer on 2013 01 29, 6:36 pm CST

@334 - Thank you for the clarification that a committee's stated policy does not automatically become an official policy for the entire ABA. Going forward, does anyone have any suggestions as to how to follow this issue with the ABA outside of this comment section for this specific article?
Is there a general membership forum to address this issue? I am very much interested in how the ABA leadership responds to this apparent presidential overreach.

By 82Bulldog on 2013 01 29, 7:21 pm CST

FYI - The ABA House of Delegates Midyear Meeting is scheduled for Feb. 6-11 in Dallas.
Texas would be a great venue to address this issue.

By 82Bulldog on 2013 01 29, 7:26 pm CST

I called and cancelled my membership and asked for a pro-rata refund due to ABA's stated position on the Assault Weapon ban. I was told that I might receive a phone call having to due with my decision, perhaps we're getting some attention now.

By Now EX-ABA on 2013 01 29, 7:52 pm CST

Vic Sage,

"Gun nuts." Really?

What a shame that a lawyer, and a Member of the American Bar Association, resorts to epithets and ad hominem attacks. Although I see this in Court frequently, I expect that the dues paying members of the ABA hold their words and actions to a higher standard.

Unfortunately, it demonstrates that those with differing opinions can not enjoy collegiality within a national Bar association because there will always be someone that chooses to subvert the stated objectives of the association, which are succinctly spelled out here:

A discussion involving interpretation over the limits of the Second Amendment should not rise to the level of rancor expected in a discussion over discrimination or segregation.

All I can say, Vic Sage, is from your comments -- I don't want to be in ANY organization where those that think, behave, or speak like you are of any sort of control or influence. Yet here we are. The ABA has given you and those that think like you some control or influence.

I was right in my decision to cancel my membership.

Scott McMillan

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 01 29, 8:10 pm CST

According to the mission statement of the American Bar Association, there are four simple goals of the ABA which can be found at

Goal I: Serve Our Members.

Provide benefits, programs and services which promote members’ professional growth and quality of life.

Goal II: Improve Our Profession.

Promote the highest quality legal education.
Promote competence, ethical conduct and professionalism.
Promote pro bono and public service by the legal profession.

Goal III: Eliminate Bias and Enhance Diversity.

Promote full and equal participation in the association, our profession, and the justice system by all persons.
Eliminate bias in the legal profession and the justice system.

Goal IV: Advance the Rule of Law.

Increase public understanding of and respect for the rule of law, the legal process, and the role of the legal profession at home and throughout the world.
Hold governments accountable under law.
Work for just laws, including human rights, and a fair legal process.
Assure meaningful access to justice for all persons.
Preserve the independence of the legal profession and the judiciary.

Where does endorsing the Assault Weapons Ban offered by Feinstein fit into this?

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 01 29, 8:15 pm CST

By the way, it took some effort to get to the Member Services department in order to cancel that membership. But, the phone number I dialed was (312) 988-5000.

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 01 29, 8:19 pm CST

Here's the number I used: (800) 285-2221.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 29, 8:24 pm CST

And if you want to let Laurel know how you feel, her email address at her office is here:

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 01 29, 8:27 pm CST

334/335, you are right that the HOD has to approve an ABA statement of position and a committee or officer cannot do so on its own. But what is often approved is merely the position of a few like-minded committee members, which position ultimately makes it to the top, without truly representing the position of most, or even many, members. Iwas looking at the practical effect rather than the technical process.

It's been a while since I've dealt with the mechanics of the Green Book, "blanket authority' and all that, but there are ways to latch on to an existing approved position, and expand it with (arguably) related or consistent positions, and quickly and quietly get the approval.

Having seen there exists a Gun Control Committee, I suspect we will find that is the platform from which Bellows ultimately got approval to say what is so offensive to ABA members, as seen by almost all of these 342 comments.

By Hadley V. Baxendale on 2013 01 29, 9:48 pm CST

As a threshold matter, I am sure Ms. Bellows is a talented attorney and gracious individual. And speaking from my own personal experience, I deal with lawyers daily who come at life from an entirely different cultural and political perspective than my own, and we always get along great, close matters professionally and expeditious and - - - heck - - - have a great lunch or dinner together when everything is wrapped up.

With all of that said, what moved Ms. Bellows to cause ABA to dive into this contentious debate? I think that the exchange on this Board would benefit if Ms. Bellows or someone who supported this action explained why Senator Feinstein's bill merited the imprimatur of this professional organization.

Although I fully understand (but don't accept) why an INDIVIDUAL person in their own INDIVIDUAL capacity endorse this bill, I can't understand why this bill merited ABA's endorsement given the specific community of interests that binds ABA members together.

By Yankee on 2013 01 29, 10:19 pm CST

What about starting a new bar association - one that actually supports our consitution and our Bill of Rights? This is a disgraceful agency that all lawyers should be ashamed of!

By criminal lawyer on 2013 01 29, 11:48 pm CST

After failing to receive an answer regarding the authority under which President Bellows sent her letters, either from her directly, from any of her staff, any of my ABA House of Delegates representatives (who did not even know about the letter by the way), I have tendered notice to the ABA to cancel my membership.

The member service representative noted the many years that I have been a member and was not shocked when I told her my reasons for quitting this organization. Perhaps there were enough other attorneys who have done the same thing? I urge all other ABA members to vote with their wallets and quit the ABA until President Bellows issues a retraction and apology to the membership.

If President Bellows issues an apology and a retraction, I may rethink my decision and rejoin, but not until then.

By Idaho Lawyer on 2013 01 30, 12:08 am CST

Wow. Dallas. Mid-year meeting. That's going to be a chilly one now. Might want to avoid sporting the ABA conference name tag out on the street.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 30, 12:11 am CST

347 comments about a meaningless endorsement of a bill that will probably be amended beyond all recognition before getting passed into law?

It's a little like watching a flock of hundreds of pigeons after throwing 1/4 handful of seed into their midst.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 30, 12:17 am CST

348, I completely disagree that protest is meaningless. Consider that many if not most of the writers object to the whole idea of the Feinstein bill, regardless of whether her version may be amended. Protest is highly appropriate.

It is not a stretch to conclude that Bellows is mainly sucking up to a personal acquaintance in Feinstein. Some of us know her history well. She has no business using her title as President of the ABA in pursuing a personal agenda. The job, like all similar ones, is that of a steward for the interests of the members, not for achieving her own philosophical goals.

By Norman Solberg on 2013 01 30, 12:31 am CST

Being ABA President means never having to say you're sorry.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 30, 12:34 am CST

@348 " . . . meaningless endorsement . . ."

If the endorsement was "meaningless", that is even less of a reason for Ms. Bellows to have made the endorsement in ABA's name given the bad will in some quarters that it has generated. Put another way, if Ms. Bellows made a meaningless endorsement, she generated a whole lot of bad will among the bar without anything to show for it.

However, the fact that Ms. Bellows is a smart individual who in fact made the endorsement, that the endorsement was widely broadcast, and the large number of negative comments it generated, strongly suggests that the endorsement was not meaningles.

By Yankee on 2013 01 30, 1:20 am CST

I think I found the source. There is a huge list of ABA policies and positions that have been in place for decades (the gun control policies go back to the sixties) and Bellow's endorsement of the Feinstein bill is consistent with those policies--which generally weigh heavily on restricting access to guns, gun registration and ownership licensing, ban of certain guns, etc. and "review of the eligibility of handgun owners." Yikes.

It's under criminal law/procedure

In other words, her statement is not a new position, and those who find the ABA position offensive now (as I do) should have resigned long ago. No telling what other "sleepers" are in there.

As I suggested before, it's not hard to find some existing approved position and apply it to new circumstances that (arguably) fit.

Those who disagree with the ABA position are way behind the curve. And doubt any are really surprised, either.

By Hadley V. Baxendale on 2013 01 30, 3:06 pm CST

This entire discussion including the old ABA position cited by Hadley v Baxendale in #352 reminds me of what a professor of mine once said: "Ask me not what the law is until you tell me which side I am on."

By GR8GU3 on 2013 01 30, 5:24 pm CST

I say that those wishing to purchase firearms should be required to make multiple visits to a gun store, with at least one week between visits, be required to watch videos showing the bodies of victims of gun violence, and be required to discuss the alternatives to purchasing a firearm with a licensed professional before being allowed to purchase a firearm.

By Constitutionalist on 2013 01 30, 8:29 pm CST

@354: I say that those wishing to exercise their right to have an abortion should be required to make multible visits to pregnancy centers to learn about alternatives to abortions, and be required to watch videos showing the bodies of the victims of abortion violence.

I also think that those legislating for gun control should be required to have televised town hall meetings in their home districts and hear nothing but accounts where guns were used to prevent crimes and then look into the faces of the would-be victims and tell them how it would've been better for society overall if they had been raped, robbed and murdered.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 30, 8:40 pm CST

@354 I say that many lawyers would be helpless if they didn't have a judge or a cop to run to.

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 01 30, 8:43 pm CST

The ABA should stay out of issues like this. Seriously thinking of cancelling my membership when 'my' organization takes positions without polling or informing the members, merely on the whim and political leanings of the leadership! Totally inappropriate.
Retract the organization support and stay out of issues like this.

By Michael D. Caccavo, Esq. on 2013 01 30, 9:58 pm CST

I too, I am glad I did not join the ABA. I don't understand why it is endorsing or opposing
any legislation that does not effect lawyers.

I especially don't understand the American Bar Association endorsing legislation that restricts the 2nd amendment.

By RYAN MOREY on 2013 01 30, 10:23 pm CST

The ABA is out of bounds in endorsing this legislation. This bill does not directly support the judiciary or similar issues that are tied into the ABA's mission statement. Speaking for the membership in this area is the height of arrogance on the part of the persons making the decision.

Leadership should be established that understands the ABA's mission and key goals. Taking a position on controversial issues away from its key role is improper. ABA leadership is out of bounds, out of touch, and should have kept their mouth shut.

By Darrell Stewart on 2013 01 30, 11:10 pm CST

I write to add my strong objection to the ABA taking a position on the so-called assault weapons bill. Ms. Bellows certainly wasn't writing on my behalf in supporting that political grandstanding and bad public policy. Many commenter above have already said why.

By Shell Bleiweiss on 2013 01 30, 11:23 pm CST

I've been an ABA member since 1973. It's done a lot of good work, and it's meant a lot to me and my practice. But, like the abortion controversy, this is one area where the ABA should not delve. Laurel, please step back and rethink things. Listen to what commenters have written here. Lawyers need the ABA today more than ever, but more than ever, the ABA needs to quit taking political stances. The ABA needs to get back in touch with why it exists and what it should do for its members -- not just its officers.

By jennifer rose on 2013 01 30, 11:26 pm CST


I suggest that you be required to take a similar amount of time and training before being allowed access to the police or court. Mayhaps your view of personal defense might then change.

By Texlaw on 2013 01 30, 11:46 pm CST

Well, Jennifer, if you saw the story on "the ABA's" legislative testimony today, you must realize you're writing to someone who's absolutely Hell bent on ignoring all dissenting voices. That "we" in her testimony was either speaking for all the members once again, or Ms. Bellows had something in her pocket (or both).

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 30, 11:51 pm CST


Nice job. I like the way you took all the roadblocks that the Conservatives have placed in the way of women exercising their constitutional rights, roadblocks that the Conservatives have steadfastly claimed are entirely constitutional, and turned it back on them. What's sauce for the goose, eh?

By Vic Sage on 2013 01 31, 2:19 am CST

Laurel Bellows's commentary all comes from this sense of elitism. The "upper echelon" of the ABA simply think that because they are so smart, and that they are lawyers, and that they are AV rated or whatever, or are elected to the Bar officialdom, that they just know better how other people should live. Those other people include other lawyers, politicians, and everyday people. Her and her friends know no bounds for those that they'd like to control. Elitism is meaningless if you lack control of those that are around you.

Even the way that the press release is written reeks of a "holier-than-thou" attitude and way of thinking. Which, in me at least, provokes a STFU attitude. Her pomposity is simply amazing.

Oh, and the "we" thing that this female was using . . . that is called the Royal "We."

Can you imagine her as a Judge? With her anti-service-oriented, self-important attitude, the public would just be further disenfranchised with the court system.

It would be ideal if she would just go find someplace to do her self-important grandstanding that didn't cause the rest of us so much distraction.

[BTW, Laurel and her bff Feinstein will be off alone with their anti-gun agenda now that Cuomo's poll numbers are spinning around the drain hole. Nobody is going to want to play with grabbing guns for fear of being another Cuomo.]

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 01 31, 2:35 am CST

My best guess on the result of this new gun control agenda? My guess is that President Obama becomes a lame duck after the Democrats lose the Senate, either over this, or at least over the fact that Obama won't be drawing any voters to vote in any future elections.

But I love my president, and I'm glad that this came up After I had a chance to vote for him a second time. I was proud to vote for him, and still am. And, honestly, I may well not have voted for him over this, this right to bear toys (and I'm not talking Theodore Roosevelt).

Bobby Jindal in 2016! Woo Hoo!

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 01 31, 2:47 am CST


Tom, I agree with your prognosis.

And, if we apply the market as an indicator, all firearms that take a magazine, all ammunition that goes in a magazine, all firearm parts that relate to assembling a firearm that receive a magazine -- are gone. Out of stock. Off the shelves. Those that are available are being sold at double the price that they were formerly offered -- if available at all.

Likewise, during this panic the NRA gained 300,000 new members in a month. By way of comparison, the ABA only has 400,000 members. Further, I seriously doubt that however compelling Laurel's speeches are, those lawmakers don't expect that she really speaks for the membership of the ABA - they know lawyers too. Those people that went and joined the NRA, and those people that went and spent money in a panic -- who are they going to blame for provoking their decision making?

In economic terms, gun owners or those that want to be gun owners, are panicked and spending money and time and other revenue generating resources accordingly. From a macro point of view, isn't this a mis-allocation of resources? That mis-allocation will bear fruit later.

What has now occurred is that "fires are being fanned," causing economic activity that would not otherwise happen, with people spending money that they would not otherwise spend. That money will be missed. The spenders will be looking for someone to blame. And in the Democrat Party (or "gun grabbing," anti-Second Amendment party) they will find that villain.

In 1991 or so, California was the leader in banning so called "assault weapons." John Van De Kamp, then Attorney General, Steve Roos, and David Roberti then stars of the California legislature, were the leaders in that effort to ban assault weapons. They are now, to a person, out of politics. They were trounced out in the next couple of elections despite their valiant efforts to hang in there. They call themselves "consultants." I think a couple practice law.

In summary, I agree with you. There will be blowback for the Democrats, or any Republican that breaks rank and votes for any of the gun-grab bills. Even if there is a perception of collaboration on a gun-grab bill, there will be election pain.

I guess that the Democrats and the President should enjoy their 2013 and part of the 2014 while it lasts.

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 01 31, 3:35 am CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By Haseeb-ur Rehman Advocate on 2013 01 31, 6:14 am CST is the president's response - not sure if you all received this - I would imagine we all received the same letter.

Thank you for sharing your views regarding the ABA’s support for the Federal Assault Weapons legislation. The ABA values – and I am personally sensitive to – the voices and interests of all of our ABA members.

The ABA is a diverse Association with many members of widely varied opinions on issues impacting our profession and our nation, and the Association tries hard to provide value to all our members, regardless of those opinions. That is why so much of our advocacy is directed toward supporting legal services, indigent defense, military justice, juvenile justice, and other programs delivering greater access to justice in our country. And that is why we lobby in Washington to protect lawyers and law firms from federal regulatory intrusion into the lawyer-client relationship, and fight hard to support our court system and delivery-of-justice infrastructure at the state and federal level.

I understand that you have a different perspective on the best way to prevent further unnecessary gun violence, though I suspect that we agree that we do not want to experience another Newtown, Aurora or Columbine. As President of the ABA, my public advocacy is guided not by personal opinion, but by the policies adopted by vote of our House of Delegates, whose 550 members are chosen by and represent all state bars and other lawyer constituencies throughout the bar and the association. The House of Delegates adopted very specific policy supporting legislation to limit availability of assault weapons to military and law enforcement organizations. The House also has endorsed legislative action to address trafficking in weapons, expanded background checks, and other responsible approaches to curbing gun violence without unreasonably interfering with the rights of gun owners.

I want to stress that, as an organization of lawyers the ABA is especially respectful of the need to protect the Second Amendment rights of our citizens. Just as the First Amendment and other provisions conferring basic rights under the Constitution are not absolute and without limits, there are limits to the Second Amendment, as recognized by the Supreme Court in the Heller decision. Justice Scalia, speaking for the majority in that case, specifically acknowledged that many governmental restrictions on the “right to bear arms” would survive that decision. I have confidence that the legislation supported by the ABA is constitutionally unassailable, though of course many will disagree with its wisdom.

When the United States Congress enacts legislation that we oppose, our immediate reaction is not to leave the country, but to work within the political system to have our voices heard.

I appreciate your taking the time to write.


Laurel G. Bellows

President, American Bar Association

By criminal lawyer on 2013 01 31, 1:27 pm CST

Here is the response I received from the president...I am sure you all received it as well?

Thank you for sharing your views regarding the ABA’s support for the Federal Assault Weapons legislation. The ABA values – and I am personally sensitive to – the voices and interests of all of our ABA members.

The ABA is a diverse Association with many members of widely varied opinions on issues impacting our profession and our nation, and the Association tries hard to provide value to all our members, regardless of those opinions. That is why so much of our advocacy is directed toward supporting legal services, indigent defense, military justice, juvenile justice, and other programs delivering greater access to justice in our country. And that is why we lobby in Washington to protect lawyers and law firms from federal regulatory intrusion into the lawyer-client relationship, and fight hard to support our court system and delivery-of-justice infrastructure at the state and federal level.

I understand that you have a different perspective on the best way to prevent further unnecessary gun violence, though I suspect that we agree that we do not want to experience another Newtown, Aurora or Columbine. As President of the ABA, my public advocacy is guided not by personal opinion, but by the policies adopted by vote of our House of Delegates, whose 550 members are chosen by and represent all state bars and other lawyer constituencies throughout the bar and the association. The House of Delegates adopted very specific policy supporting legislation to limit availability of assault weapons to military and law enforcement organizations. The House also has endorsed legislative action to address trafficking in weapons, expanded background checks, and other responsible approaches to curbing gun violence without unreasonably interfering with the rights of gun owners.

I want to stress that, as an organization of lawyers the ABA is especially respectful of the need to protect the Second Amendment rights of our citizens. Just as the First Amendment and other provisions conferring basic rights under the Constitution are not absolute and without limits, there are limits to the Second Amendment, as recognized by the Supreme Court in the Heller decision. Justice Scalia, speaking for the majority in that case, specifically acknowledged that many governmental restrictions on the “right to bear arms” would survive that decision. I have confidence that the legislation supported by the ABA is constitutionally unassailable, though of course many will disagree with its wisdom.

When the United States Congress enacts legislation that we oppose, our immediate reaction is not to leave the country, but to work within the political system to have our voices heard.

I appreciate your taking the time to write.


Laurel G. Bellows

President, American Bar Association

By criminal lawyer on 2013 01 31, 1:28 pm CST

It is almost as funny as the "turtles on flagpoles" speech, but without any "like, wow"s. I know I am impressed by how very, very sensitive she is to the views of the dues-paying peons in the rank and file. Thank for sharing, and God Bless England.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 31, 1:31 pm CST

"[M]y public advocacy is guided not by personal opinion, but by the policies adopted by vote of our House of Delegates...." Horse feathers! When did this vaunted House of Delegates vote to support Feinstein's legislation on this occasion? Oh, it didn't? Ms Bellows has spoken a lie. Apparently she now wishes her "public advocacy" to be to be taken from a pre-WWII text: Tell a big lie often enough...

By Faulhaber on 2013 01 31, 2:01 pm CST

I love how she thinks that supporting a ban on so-called "assault weapons" is consistent with the 2nd Amendment. Just what the hell are they teaching in law schools today? I met with my Congressman on this issue yesterday and he assured me that it has zero chance of passing. Thank God.

By Jason L. Van Dyke on 2013 01 31, 2:33 pm CST

When and in what fashion did this supposed vote in the House of Delegates take place and how many votes were in favor, how many against and how many abstained?

By D. Bernstein on 2013 01 31, 2:54 pm CST

"I understand that you have a different perspective on the best way to prevent further unnecessary gun violence"?

Really? So Ms. Bellows thinks a bunch of lawyers are going to solve the problem of evil in the world? No self-esteem problems there. How about the ABA has no business pontificating about 'gun violence' at all. If she wants to talk about gun violence, the Fast and Furious scandal still needs investigating and a lot more people there died at the direction of Eric Holder.

By SlipKid on 2013 01 31, 3:45 pm CST

@ 333
I posted about my $326 refund from ABA resulting from my cancellation of my membership and return of my pro-rated dues.

Keep in mind, I've never been a member of the NRA or the Gun Owners of America. But, in light of what has happened recently, and the efforts of those such as Laurel, I've considered joining those organizations.

Today, I was forwarded an email on a discount offer to join the NRA for life. . . for only $300!

Here is the offer:
"With the current attacks on responsible gun owners, the NRA has made lifetime membership available to anyone for $300 thru the end of February. Most of the gun related forums have notices posted about it. The number is 888-678-7894

Please pass this along to those you know who may not be NRA members or would like to upgrade their annual membership to life membership."

Enjoy . . .

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 01 31, 6:49 pm CST

Well, before joining the NRA because of Bellows' fictional statements, I recommend that you Google "NRA supports leg traps."

If I were you, I would send my money directly to support the candidates of my (your) choice, had I any money that is. (I am on the Cheaper than Dirt mailing list though. Awesome and free.)

If the NRA changes its position on leg traps, I could well change mine.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 01 31, 7:26 pm CST

I sympathize with animals as well. Leg trapping sounds cruel.

The conflation between hunting issues and gun ownership issues is another vexing matter. But, I think its more likely I can prevail on Wayne LaPierre to avoid trapping and hunting issues than I'll successfully convince Ms. Bellows to stop speaking for me on firearms ownership matters.

By the way, I am in agreement with you that supporting candidates directly is effective and necessary. So, I won't delegate my lobbying responsibilities away to the NRA. Run my name and it should come up as a supporter of political campaigns.

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 01 31, 7:32 pm CST

" I think its more likely I can prevail on Wayne LaPierre to avoid trapping and hunting issues than I’ll successfully convince Ms. Bellows to stop speaking for me on firearms ownership matters."

You are so persuasive! What are you? A lawyer?

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 01 31, 7:42 pm CST

I have not taken the time to read all the comments, so apologize if I am repeating something that has been said. I sent an email to ABA last week, tendering my resignation and expressing my disgust with ABA's position statement. I received a form email response yesterday (one of my partners received the same response), which was even more troubling than the original endorsement letter to Sen. Feinstein. The response included a 1993 (yes, 20 years ago) Resolution to support a ban on Assault Weapons. Based upon this, It appears ABA's endorsement was made without any review or analysis of intervening case law developments or the efficacy of the earlier Assault Weapons Ban. It is bad enough that ABA had to take a side in what is clearly a divisive issue, but it is even worse when it is done without adequate review or parlimentary process.

It is funny, the response ends with the admonition or request that I get involved in the ABA process, rather than walk. Too late -- my resignation is in, I am not looking back.

By TFO3 on 2013 01 31, 9:48 pm CST

@380 TF03 -
The ABA promised me a refund of $326 for the pro rated portion of my dues. Make certain that you ask them for your dues back. I was able to use my refund to join both the GOA and NRA, which I thought was fitting. GOA is only $20 per year.

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 01 31, 10:08 pm CST

Do not assume that the Association represents the political, social, or moral views of its individual members. Until you poll each member and declare the percentages of members for and against, the ABA and its president have no standing to represent individual members on a political issue.

By CJ Stevens on 2013 01 31, 10:40 pm CST

Assuming that Laurel Bellows was blissfully ignorant of member views when she wrote the endorsement letter, maybe that, in theory, could account for the letter. However, when she went before a senate committee after a firestorm of protest, and basically repeated the position with full awareness of significant dissent, which she did not disclose in her testimony, I think that raises issues of lack of candor. It seems to me there was both an absence of honesty in fact and an absence of full and fair disclosure when she deliberately failed to tell the senators that she was fully aware ABA members were divided on this legislation, and that she in fact has no idea if a majority of the membership support or oppose it. It strikes me as fundamentally unprofessional.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 31, 11:55 pm CST

Scott at 381, I won't ask if you know Bellows position on leg traps, but do you happen to know the GOA's ? I could manage $20 a year.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 02 01, 12:08 am CST

Of course, most of those whining about quitting the ABA are already getting their ABA dues paid for by their firms. And, of course, those whiners will also continue to post on these ABA boards like the freeloaders they have proven themselves to be.


By Vic Sage on 2013 02 01, 1:07 am CST

@385 Vic Sage, the resident name-calling "Progressive."

I am neither a whiner, or a freeloader. I do not know who you are referring to by those characterizations.

I don't know what difference it makes who pays the dues; your point in that respect is lost on me. Yes, my firm was paying my dues. But, I have a choice of whether my Firm pays the dues or doesn't. After all, it is my Firm.

The reason I put my name and identifying information into the post is to allow the ABA to do a head count of who actually was cancelling membership. In this case, I chose to discontinue being involved with an organization that does not reflect my political views. Likewise, I would have quit if the ABA came out in favor of indefinite detention.

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 02 01, 1:18 am CST

@384 - Tom

Tom, I don't know about the leg traps position of GOA. They seem more focused anyway.

But, I did post a comment to the NRA about your concerns re leg traps to encourage them to drop that position, and included a link to your comment. We'll see how persuasive I was . . . if they even respond.

By Scott A McMillan Former ABA ID 00821411 [Cancelled on 2013 02 01, 1:20 am CST

@Scott A McMillan

You should be aware that Vic Sage is a troll that is attempting to recieve emotional responses from those he is criticizing. Thank you for handling that so well and responding in a manner that proves his failure at getting an emotional response.

By Joshua Neuman on 2013 02 01, 1:53 am CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By Haseeb-ur Rehman Advocate on 2013 02 01, 8:07 am CST

Stunts like this by Bellows, using her bully pulpit, are exactly why I cancelled my membership for the second time. I gave them a second chance and they showed me once again how liberal and political they really are. Goodbye.

By Cancelling my membership....again on 2013 02 01, 4:19 pm CST

I see a letter from the ABA President purporting to speak on behalf of the membership. I thought that was the responsibility of the House of Delegates. Have they voted to support Feinstein's Bill? If not, maybe this needs to be raised at the upcoming mid-year meeting. I'm nor resigning yet, but I am going to ask that our delegate raise the issue.

By Leonard Pataki on 2013 02 02, 2:46 pm CST

@386 I am neither a whiner, or a freeloader

Your post speaks otherwise.


Another fail on your part, Josh.

By Vic Sage on 2013 02 02, 6:14 pm CST

ABA must be slacking on their continuing education. requirements:

HELLER - “Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844, 849, 117 S.Ct. 2329, 138 L.Ed.2d 874 (1997), and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 35-36, 121 S.Ct. 2038, 150 L.Ed.2d 94 (2001), the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.”

By Joe Mama on 2013 02 02, 9:15 pm CST

Fitting that I just started receiving membership renewal notices. They are heading straight for the trash. It diminishes me as an attorney to associate professionally with an organization that is not only so ignorant that it doesn't understand the "common use" language of Heller (which would 100% apply to a rifle like the AR-15, the most popular rifle currently sold in America) but also that they double-down on this ignorance by weaving it into their policy positions.

I'll check it from time to time to see how the leadership addressing such a critical failure of its duty to members, and maybe I'll come back. Not holding my breath, though.

By PA-Lawyer on 2013 02 03, 7:19 am CST

@Mad in Oklahoma

You ask, <i>Wonder what Bellows and Feinstien would say if we outlawed women’s makeup? No mascara, no lipstick. Would that make their tongues any less useable? </i>

Simple, DiFei would exclude Government employees, female lawyers and Hollyweirders generally from any such ban.

I'm a lawyer too, but have not been a member of the ABA since the end of my first year of practice. Kinda wish I was a member though so I too could resign effective immediately.

By Libertarian Advocate on 2013 02 03, 12:36 pm CST

I guess that this is the quid pro quo for Congress squashing tort reform. Congratulations, ABA. You shafted America again.

By Ralph on 2013 02 04, 4:36 am CST

I will not be renewing my ABA membership. I will use the dues to purchase NRA memberships for college students and Law School students. If I am going to spend the money it might as well go to an organization that supports and defends the Constitution.

By Eric_in_NOLA on 2013 02 04, 5:40 am CST

Wow. Thanks for making my decision easy - it will help me save a few bucks after the bar.

By 3L on 2013 02 04, 10:39 am CST

It is sad when smart, educated people try to make points that obviously lack thought and research.

By Rory on 2013 02 04, 8:23 pm CST

I am glad I followed a link to this article. It makes manifest that the ABA is not a professional organization, but a political advocacy group. As an informed citizen, I now know how to treat ABA positions in other areas.

By CBI on 2013 02 05, 3:50 am CST

If her comparison is the 2nd. adm vs. the 1st. she is not outlawing the screaming of fire in a crowded theater, but rather the vocal cords that scream it. They want to take away the mechanism and not the act. Screaming fire is against the law and so is murder. Leave the rifle and the voice box alone. Also as a note the 1930s legislation just required a tax stamp for full auto weapons. It did noting to reduce their access to the public.

By David B. Russell on 2013 02 05, 11:34 pm CST

Just another politician wannabe chiming in on a political hot topic rather than dealing with the issues that face the profession. I see no reason to remain a member of this organization.

By FORMER ABA MEMBER on 2013 02 06, 6:28 am CST

I have been notified by one of my clients that I no longer represent their business because of the ABAs decision to try and circumvent the Constitution. I can no longer support the ABA.

By Lost A Client on 2013 02 06, 3:15 pm CST

Well, if we are going to take a position already. let's go with a ban or High Fructose Corn Syrup. It kills more people every year, and otherwise impinges upon the quality of life, than guns ever will, and it seems that Ms. Bellows - what an appropriate name - is probably as qualified to bloviate about HFCS as she is about the second amendment.

By David Herz on 2013 02 07, 2:09 am CST

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