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NRA Had High Court Misgivings

Posted Jul 30, 2007 8:12 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The National Rifle Association may be a reluctant Supreme Court suitor in a Washington, D.C., case that challenges the district’s handgun ban.

The lawyer who won a federal appeals court ruling striking down the ban says the NRA has joined him “ever so grudgingly” in the case, Legal Times reports. Alan Gura of Alexandria, Va., successfully argued that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty is seeking cert, and Gura also supports high court review. (See this ABAJournal.com post for details.)

Gura says the NRA had feared an adverse Second Amendment ruling and had earlier filed suit challenging the D.C. handgun ban on different rationales. The organization sought to consolidate both suits, which Gura interpreted as an attempt to thwart his Second Amendment arguments. He called the NRA suit “sham litigation” in 2003 court papers.

"The NRA was adamant about not wanting the Supreme Court to hear the case, but we went ahead anyway," Gura told the legal newspaper.

An NRA spokesman denies trying to interfere with Gura's suit, saying his group filed an amicus brief supporting Gura in the federal appeals court and will do the same before the Supreme Court. But a lawyer who reviewed the case for the NRA at an earlier stage of the litigation acknowledged he had concerns that the Supreme Court would not support the Second Amendment theory.

Charles Cooper of Cooper & Kirk in Washington, D.C., told Legal Times that the court’s new conservative appointees give the NRA a better chance of winning now. "That is still not as clear as I would like it to be, though I am much more calm,” he said.

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