AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
From time to time, many of us find ourselves in need of an attorney. Not so much for a criminal proceeding, but for any of the thousands of other potential reasons to hire one. Maybe it’s bankruptcy, or maybe you’re getting a divorce. Hell, it could be because you’re buying a house or writing your will.
However, a recent report suggests that an attorney may not always be in your corner, especially if you’re a gun owner.
If your lawyer believes that having a firearm license defines you as dangerous, you may be at risk of losing your Second Amendment rights and even your freedom. You may not know about his belief or recognize the risk until it is too late.
I can almost hear you saying, “My attorney is my advocate. What are you talking about? That could never happen!” You are wrong.
Lawyers are required to attend continuing legal education. During a recent ethics seminar, “The ‘Perfect’ Match: Selecting Clients for Successful Representation (Ethics),” Adam Kilgore, general counsel for the Mississippi Bar, offered the following hypothetical to a group of experienced civil and criminal lawyers.
A man has been fired from his job. He is upset. He hires you as his attorney. You are of the opinion he has an excellent case and file a complaint on his behalf. You later discover he possesses a permit to carry a firearm. He also has a so-called enhanced carry license. While his case is wending through the courts, your client goes to a public area outside his former workplace. He displays signs that say he has been wrongfully fired. The man has no history of criminal activity, violence, or threatening anyone.
The instructor asked the class what actions, if any, a lawyer should take. It seemed obvious to me there was no reason to do anything except proceed with the client’s case. I (Jude) would also advise my client to avoid confrontations with anyone who worked for his former employer and what he might consider saying if approached by the media.
While I was forming an answer, many lawyers immediately said they would terminate the attorney-client relationship and contact law enforcement to report their client was potentially dangerous. The only reason offered was his firearm permits.
Now, this isn’t universal among the legal profession. I have a good friend who is an attorney–other than that he’s a great guy–who is also a vehement defender of the Second Amendment. The only way he’d report anyone as potentially dangerous would be because there is evidence to suggest that, such as an expressed desire to hurt someone.
The idea that attorneys would sever the relationship over that little bit is alarming. However, it shouldn’t be surprising.
The truth of the matter is that we have a public relations problem. One thing we’ve consistently failed to do is successfully combat the perception that gun owners are potentially unhinged individuals looking to shoot up their work environment.
Whereas we typically are distrustful of the media, we tend to forget that such feelings aren’t universal. Somehow, we need to combat this perception of gun owners.
The big question is, how?
In the meantime, we can also see the wisdom in not discussing the existence of your carry permit with anyone, especially an attorney who you have no relationship with beyond the professional one.
It might also be a good idea to network within the local firearms community to find a pro-gun attorney who either has a permit or is at least sympathetic to those with one. Those attorneys are less likely to report for protesting and being armed.