Here are the NRA’s Go-To Law Firms

With calls for stricter gun control growing louder with each mass shooting—including Sunday’s massacre of 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas—here’s a look at the law firms that have handled much of the litigation in recent years for the National Rifle Association, which historically has opposed measures to control firearm access. Kirkland & Ellis Legacy firm Washington-based Bancroft, specifically partner Paul Clement, has handled much of the NRA’s highest profile matters. (Last year, Kirkland absorbed Bancroft, which had about 20 lawyers) Of late, Kirkland lawyers argued Peruta v. California, a case testing whether the Second Amendment entitled citizens to carry concealed handguns outside their homes, even though open carry was forbidden by state law. The Ninth Circuit upheld the state law and the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in June. Clement, while at King & Spalding, argued McDonald v. City of Chicago, which held that the Second Amendment applied to laws created by state and local governments. Partners Edmund LaCour and Erin Elizabeth Murphy at Kirkland also have represented the NRA. The firm did not respond to a request for comment. Bustos Law Firm Five-lawyer Bustos Law Firm in Lubbock, Texas, is led by Fernando Bustos, who has represented the NRA, mostly as co-counsel or local counsel, in several cases. In 2013, he worked on NRA v. McGraw, which challenged a Texas law forbidding 18-to-20 year olds from carrying handguns in public. The Fifth Circuit upheld the law, and the Supreme Court denied cert in 2014. In NRA v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Bustos Law Firm challenged Texas law that prohibited federally licensed firearms dealers from selling handguns to persons under 21, which the Fifth Circuit upheld. The Supreme Court denied cert in that case, as well. The firm lists the NRA on its website as one of its representative clients. Bustos did not respond to a request for comment. Cooper & Kirk Like the Bustos Law Firm, 15-lawyer Cooper & Kirk in Washington, D.C., represented the NRA in the McGraw and BATFE cases. The NRA was also its client as an amicus supporting the defendants in Woollard v. Gallagher, a Fourth Circuit case that challenged a Maryland law requiring people seeking a handgun permit to meet the “good and substantial reason” standard. The appeals court upheld the law; the Supreme Court denied cert in 2013. Cooper & Kirkland represented the NRA as amicus in Ezell v. City of Chicago, which challenged municipal ordinances that mandated one hour of training at a gun range as a prerequisite to gun ownership but also prohibited all firing ranges in the city. The city was enjoined from enforcing the ordinances. In Ezell II, the Seventh Circuit in January ruled that the city could not prohibit people under 18 from entering firing ranges and could not constrict firing ranges to a very small portion of the city. Cooper & Kirk also represented the NRA as amicus in Kolbe v. O’Malley, a challenge to Maryland law that bans certain assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. The law was upheld, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed last year. In an unrelated case in August, Charles Cooper at Cooper & Kirk filed suit on behalf of Gregory Reyes, former CEO of Brocade Communication Systems who was convicted of financial crimes in 2010. Reyes, now out of jail, claims the government is using those convictions to prevent him from buying a firearm in violation of the Second Amendment. Charles Cooper did not respond to a request for comment. Michel & Associates If the NRA is in court as a party or as amicus, it’s a good bet that Michel & Associates will be there, too. The 14-lawyer firm in Long Beach, California, represented the organization as amicus in the landmark Heller decision, which held that the Second Amendment protects the right to possess a firearm for self-defense in one’s home, and that D.C.'s requirement that rifles and shotguns be kept "unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock" violated the Constitution. Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the County of Alameda did not violate the Second Amendment when it denied conditional use permits to open a gun shop because the proposed location of the shop fell within a prohibited county zone. Along with Clement, the Michel firm represented the NRA’s interests in that case. Also with Kirkland & Ellis attorneys, the Michel firm represented the NRA as a plaintiff in Bauer v. Bacerra, which the Ninth Circuit decided in June. The decision upheld a $5 fee, opposed by the NRA, on all firearms transfers intended to fund a program that disarms people prohibited from possessing firearms. The firm did not respond to a request for comment.