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Midyear Meeting

ABA President Bellows: ‘We’re about child protection gun laws’

Posted Feb 11, 2013 12:28 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Laurel Bellows addresses the ABA House of Delegates.
Video from ABANow.org

Sometimes the ABA takes positions on controversial issues on which everyone need not agree, according to ABA President Laurel G. Bellows. The association’s stance on gun violence is one of them.

Speaking on Monday to the ABA House of Delegates, Bellows said when the association sees "loopholes in the law that threaten the safety of our children, we will speak."

"For over 40 years, this association...has had policy that protects the Second Amendment right to bear arms and calls for legislation that will strengthen data collection, tighten background checks, and ban military-level assault weapons. and promotes common sense regulations...to assure that responsible people use guns responsibly," she said.

“We’re about child protection gun laws,” Bellows told the delegates.

Bellows began her speech on Monday with a critique of articles that appeared earlier this month in the Economist.

According to the articles, profitability in the legal profession can be increased when law firms are owned by nonlawyer shareholders. The increase in profits will in turn lead to lower fees for clients, the articles argued. “I’m not convinced,” Bellows said.

The articles refer to clients as “customers,” Bellows said, with little mention of how nonlawyer ownership would affect the quality of legal services. Nor do the articles cover how pro bono service will suffer if lawyers must answer to nonlawyers and public shareholders who focus on the bottom line, she said.

Bellows spoke about several priorities of her presidency, including the fight against human trafficking and obtaining adequate funding for the court system. She cited statistics showing that less than 2 percent of state budgets are devoted to justice systems. “Our legislators are starving our justice system, and that’s how democracy fails," she said.

Last updated to add a quote and video of Bellows' full speech.

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