Firearms law seminar


Is your idea of a good time an all-day continuing legal education program on firearms law and the Second Amendment? If not, then avert your eyes from the rest of this post.

But if a full day of CLE sounds fun, then consider attending the 19th Annual National Firearms Law Seminar; it will be held in Louisville on May 20, in conjunction with the National Rifle Association's annual members meeting. You can register here.

To laypersons, firearms law is best-known via high-profile cases on Second Amendment rights. But in the practice of firearms law, by far the largest number of hours are spent on less-newsworthy issues—such as regulatory compliance for small businesses or the transfer of firearms collections via bequests. So, as always, this year's seminar embraces the diversity of firearms law practice:

Stephen Halbrook will report on major Second Amendment cases around the nation. As a litigator, Halbrook has a 5 to 0 record in the Supreme Court; as a scholar, Halbrook has written extensively on the original meaning of the Second and 14th amendments, and his research has been cited by the Supreme Court and many others.

Along with Joseph G.S. Greenlee, I will be presenting a draft law review article, "The Federal Circuits' Second Amendment Doctrines." The article provides a detailed synthesis of the structure of Second Amendment analysis in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal. Based on the nearly 150 Second Amendment cases that the federal circuit courts have decided post-Heller, it is now possible to describe a standard model used by most courts in analyzing Second Amendment issues.

Chris Zealand, an attorney with NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, will discuss "Gun Control through Executive Action." The Veterans Administration (past and present) and the Social Security Administration (prospectively) are theaters of operations for large expansions of firearms prohibitions without congressional consent. The presentation will examine the legality of various executive actions regarding gun control, as well as potential responses by Congress.

Teresa Ficaretta served for 28 years with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the last two of those as deputy assistant director of enforcement programs and services. Now in private practice with Reeves & Dola, Ficaretta will explain how lawyers can counsel clients to prepare for ATF compliance inspections. (The ATF is allowed to conduct annual warrantless inspections of federal firearms licensees; inspections are allowed at other times when pursuant to a warrant or as part of a bona fide criminal investigation.) She will also discuss the informal guidance that ATF issued in January, regarding the statutory definition of "engaging in the business" as it applies to dealers in firearms.

Sarah Gervase, of the NRA general counsel's office, will elucidate ATF's new 41F regulations regarding gun trusts. She will also cover how attorneys can help clients plan gifts of firearms and how to handle such gifts in probate and trust administration.

Brent Weil, an insurance defense attorney in Indiana, will analyze the potential tort claims that could be be brought against firearms instructors and how to minimize risks.

Florida attorney Ernest J. Meyers will deliver the legal ethics presentation, on issues that should be considered when representing firearms owners and federal firearms licensees.

Derek DeBrosse serves as general counsel of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, and he will address restoration of rights. Citizens are often denied the rights to keep or bear arms because of problems such as overdue child support or a long-ago conviction for disorderly conduct. The presentation will discuss practical solutions for lawyers to help restore their clients' rights.

(Incidentally, the Independence Institute recently joined an amicus brief in a cert. petition for a case about the interplay between federal and state law for restoration of rights. Billy York Walker v. United States, no. 15-1027. I'll write more about that brief in a future post.)

Finally, Pennsylvania's Jonathan Goldstein will discuss "Preemption: The Next Frontier in Firearms Regulation & Litigation." Almost every state has a statute preempting some or all local gun control laws. Today, these laws are under a coordinated assault. Goldstein will discuss how attorneys can fight back to ensure that firearms laws remain uniform within a state.