University of Minnesota law school snuggles up to gun control lobby

University of Minnesota law school snuggles up to gun control lobby
Seth Wenig

The intersection of academia and anti-gun activism is nothing new, unfortunately. From the “Center for Gun Violence Solutions” at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to the Violence Prevention Research Program at University of California-Davis, the gun control lobby has been very successful at worming their way into partnerships with both private and public universities; particularly in states where Democrats dominate state government.

Unfortunately, we saw several states flip to complete Democratic control in the midterm elections last month, and now we’re starting to see the consequences play out in states like Minnesota, where legislators are already talking about their gun control plans for the new year. And on Thursday, the University of Minnesota announced a new partnership between the university’s law school and Attorney General Keith Ellison: the “Gun Violence Prevention Clinic”, which will be headed up by a former attorney who worked extensively with Everytown for Gun Safety’s in-house law firm.

“Firearms law is currently one of the most dynamic and rapidly changing areas in the law,” says Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor Megan Walsh, who will serve as director of the clinic. “Yet there are not enough litigators with expertise in the field, and law schools and legal scholars are under engaged in Second Amendment issues. The Gun Violence Prevention Clinic will contribute to both of these interrelated gaps.”

The Gun Violence Prevention Clinic will partner with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office on Second Amendment cases and on affirmative litigation brought by the Attorney General to reduce gun violence in Minnesota. This partnership will give students the opportunity to work with the Attorney General’s office to create safer communities in Minnesota through litigation, with the students serving as Special Assistant Attorney Generals under the supervision of the clinic.

Walsh, who has extensive experience in the gun violence prevention movement as an attorney and community organizer in Minnesota, will work with and supervise law students in providing pro bono legal services through the clinic. Walsh formerly served as a consulting attorney with Everytown Law, the largest gun violence prevention litigation team in the country.

“Litigation in this area is needed to challenge extreme gun laws, to combat the disproportionate effect of gun violence on BIPOC communities, and to provide a counterweight to the gun lobby in the courts,” Walsh says. “The Clinic’s priority will be to develop affirmative cases in consultation with Minnesota community members who live in communities that have experienced disproportionate rates of gun violence.”

The University of Minnesota’s press release says the clinic “wouldn’t be possible” without the funding of other anti-gun groups like the Joyce Foundation, but it’s unclear at this point whether any taxpayer funds will be used by the clinic to help Ellison’s office attack the right to keep and bear arms through litigation. Minnesota residents will definitely be paying for all of the ligitation that’s brought by Ellison going forward, however, even if the labor that Ellison’s office will be receiving from law students will be free of charge.

While gun owners have seen tremendous victories in the courts, we’d be crazy to ignore the crop of anti-gun attorneys that the gun control lobby is helping to produce. I’d love to see Republican AGs like West Virginia’s Patrick Morrissey or Montana’s Austin Knudson work to establish similar clinics at law schools in their home states, only with an eye towards defending the right to keep and bear arms instead of tearing it down. We might not have the deep pockets of Michael Bloomberg or the Joyce Foundation, but this arena is too important to completely cede to those intend on criminalizing the Second Amendment and those who exercise their 2A rights.