I was first affected by gun violence in 1993, when an armed gunman entered the conference room of a San Francisco law firm during a deposition and opened fire. Two people in that conference room were killed, and I knew both of them. One of the individuals who died was a partner at the firm I worked for after law school and the other was a lawyer my age from my home town, and he died shielding his wife from the gunfire. That event made me really think about the impact of gun violence and turned me into a longtime advocate of reasonable gun safety measures.
I attended the Conversation on Gun Safety which Proskauer hosted last week. We were honored to welcome as featured speakers John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety; Eric Tirschwell, Director of Litigation and National Enforcement Policy for Everytown; and Nathalie Arzu, a survivor of gun violence who is now an advocate for gun safety.The event was both educational and moving. Everytown is a nonpartisan group that came into existence thanks to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has continued his efforts even after stepping down from office. The organization is involved in legislative and litigation-related activities focused on gun safety. The statistics around gun violence in America are staggering. Gun violence kills nearly 700 Americans every week, and injures more than 1,700 per week. The United States is an outlier with a gun homicide rate more than 25 times the average of other developed countries.
Beyond learning about specific legislative and litigation efforts, one thing was clear from the event last week. The nationwide movement for reasonable gun safety measures is taking hold and appears to reflect a growing national consensus. This is shown by the thousands who now volunteer with Everytown, and the millions more who support it financially. Another important indicator of this growing national consensus is the recent action taken by several publicly-traded corporations which have disassociated from guns and gun rights organizations, reflecting the changing sentiments of their shareholders and customers.
In addition to corporations, law firms are playing a key role. In the past year, Proskauer lawyers have recorded more than 1,800 hours on pro bono matters for Everytown. In particular, partner Michael Cardozo co-counseled with Everytown on litigation challenging Florida’s firearms preemption law, which imposes fines on local governments and their officials who pass gun safety measures.
While the gun violence statistics are staggering, I am encouraged by the grassroots movement around reasonable gun safety measures and the conversations taking place in our communities. I have hope there will be safer days ahead for all Americans.