The Role of Litigation in Advocating for Gun Safety with Adam Skaggs

We’re closing in on 400 million guns in America, weapons that have been used to kill 1.5 million Americans between 1968 and 2017. In 2020 alone there were more than 45,000 gun deaths. The beyond tragic and senseless mass shootings at schools has become all too routine. Most Americans want stricter gun laws which they believe will reduce the senseless killing in our country, which leads the world in both the number of privately owned firearms and gun-related deaths.

The Supreme Court, of course, didn’t take public opinion into account when it struck down a more than century old New York City ban on concealed firearms. Politicians do, however, pay close attention to polls. At the federal level, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan law designed to make Americans safer in our gun-toting nation. Hailed as a “great start” and a rare but welcome exercise in reaching across the aisle, the law will result in safer citizens, but didn’t include much of what gun advocates say is really needed to effect meaningful change. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law that gives citizens incentives to pursue gun manufacturers and dealers who sell illegal firearms. In New York, Democratic leaders, undaunted by the Supreme Court, have pushed through new gun restrictions at vulnerable locations like schools, malls, and stadiums. 

But what can lawyers and lawsuits do about it? Plenty. What reasonable measurers can be put into place that will not infringe on Second Amendment rights?  Several. Are we seeing litigation over these issues? You bet. 

For more specifics, listen to my interview with Adam Skaggs, chief counsel and policy director at leading gun safety advocacy group Giffords Law Center, co-founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Prior to Giffords Law Center Adam was senior counsel at Everytown for Gun Safety and at the Brennan Center for Justice, where he worked on election law issues.  Adam’s commentary has been published in Slate, Politico, the Atlantic, and the New York Times, among other publications, and he has been widely quoted by media ranging from the Wall Street Journal and Fox News to the New York Times and MSNBC. Adam graduated summa cum laude from Brooklyn Law School, received an MS in Urban Affairs from Hunter College of the City University of New York, and holds a BA, awarded with distinction, from Swarthmore College.

If you would like to learn more about Giffords Law Center and how you can get engaged, please reach out to to them. You may also email Adam directly

This podcast is the audio companion to the Journal on Emerging Issues in Litigation. The Journal is a collaborative project between HB Litigation Conferences and the Fastcase legal research family, which includes Full Court Press, Law Street Media, and Docket Alarm. The podcast itself is a joint effort between HB and our friends at Law Street Media. If you have comments or wish to participate in one our projects please drop me a note at