7 Top Law Firms Launch the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce (FACT), an Unprecedented Pro Bono Litigation Effort to Hold Gun Industry Accountable
December 7, 2016 —Today, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and its partner organization the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, announced a bold new effort with seven top law firms, as well as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brennan Center for Justice, to fight gun violence. This new effort, the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce (FACT), will be devoted to pursuing legal strategies to address America’s dire gun violence crisis and hold the gun industry responsible for unfair business practices that endanger public safety.
The law firms have committed hundreds of lawyers, thousands of hours, and millions of dollars to this effort, which will operate in tight coordination with ARS and the Law Center’s team of gun law experts. To date, FACT is comprised of Arnold & Porter; Covington; Dentons; Hogan Lovells; Munger Tolles & Olson; O’Melveny; and Paul, Weiss.
FACT’s strategy represents a turning point for the gun violence prevention movement. With the gun lobby spending a record $30 million in the presidential election to support Donald Trump, more than any other special interest, and an additional $20 million in 2016 Congressional races, achieving progress at the federal level has grown all the more challenging. By expanding the fight beyond Congress, which has failed to take meaningful action to save the more than 33,000 lives lost every year to gun violence, and into the justice system, FACT will be able to push back against the special treatment the gun industry has enjoyed for decades.
FACT’s strategy builds off the success of pro bono efforts by the private bar to commit leadership, support, and resources to ensure a more just, fair, equal, and safe society.
FACT’s areas of focus will include:
- Congressional restrictions on firearms-related information access
- Misleading gun industry public statements, advertising, and marketing
- Special immunity enjoyed by gun manufacturers and dealers
- Laws that prevent local officials from keeping communities safe from gun violence
- Dangerous, gun lobby-backed laws that make ordinary conflicts potentially deadly
“As our nation’s gun violence crisis claims over 33,000 American lives every year, the gun lobby has intimidated Washington into inaction,” said Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly. “As gun owners, we know we can protect our rights and make our families safer, and that’s why we’re so excited to join with the top litigators and law firms in our country to form the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce. Together, we will stand up to the gun lobby and put the safety of our communities above corporate profits.”
“As our firm and the private bar have shown, the only effective means of remedying an intractable social injustice in the face of concerted resistance is through an innovative legal strategy and the investment of substantial resources,” said Brad Karp, chair of Paul, Weiss, a key law firm partner in the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce. “Working with several of our country’s leading law firms and our partners at Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Brady Campaign, and the Brennan Center, we intend to mount a strategic response to address the gun violence epidemic that will be as well-resourced, coordinated, and forceful as the opponents’ efforts to avoid accountability have been. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died needlessly because of gaps in our gun laws, and it’s time for the legal community to stand up and take collective action to address the plague of gun violence tearing apart our families and our communities.”
“The gun violence prevention movement has experienced tremendous momentum since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary four years ago,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “We’ve passed more smart gun laws in more states than ever before, we’ve won more ballot initiatives than ever before, and we’ve enjoyed more public support than ever before. Now, with the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce, the movement is taking another major leap forward. The unprecedented commitment our law firm partners are making to this effort—hundreds of lawyers, thousands of hours, and millions of dollars—will be a game-changer in the fight for smart gun laws.”