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Anderson Center Symposium | Litigating the Second Amendment: Gun Safety Advocacy in the Wake of Heller and Bruen

Event Type
University of Illinois College of Law, Kimball R. and Karen Gatsis Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Winston & Strawn LLP, 35 W. Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois, 60601
Nov 3, 2023   8:00 am - 3:30 pm  
Tony Ghiotto, Director of the Kimball R. and Karen Gatsis Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism

Litigating the Second Amendment: Gun Safety Advocacy in the Wake of Heller and Bruen

Kimball R. and Karen Gatsis Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism
Fall 2023 Symposium

The Kimball R. and Karen Gatsis Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism at the Illinois College of Law and Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence plan to bring together practitioners and scholars alike for a symposium in Chicago, Illinois on November 3, 2023 to discuss timely issues involving litigation involving the Second Amendment, gun violence prevention, and firearm industry accountability. The symposium will focus on affirmative litigation strategies against the firearms industry, appellate advocacy efforts on Second Amendment issues, and the ethical issues raised by the Supreme Court’s “originalist” and “historical” approach to interpreting the Second Amendment. 


VISIT THE SYMPOSIUM WEBSITE for additional details.

*Up to 4.5 hours of Illinois MCLE General Credit is pending approval.


7:30 AM – 8:00 AM: Continental Breakfast 

8:00 AM – 8:10 AM: Opening Remarks
Dean Jamelle Sharpe, University of Illinois College of Law

8:10 AM – 9:30 AM: Session I - “Affirmative Litigation and Gun Industry Accountability”
Moderator: Kristen Elmore-Garcia, Elmore Law
John Elmore, Elmore Law
Josh Koskoff, Koskoff Law
Alla Lefkowitz, Everytown for Gun Safety
Ari Scharg, Edelson 

Session Description: This panel is focused on using affirmative litigation to hold gun companies accountable. Such litigation may seek to establish liability for defective products, inadequate safety measures, or illegal sales practices that contribute to gun violence. The panel focuses on techniques for successfully utilizing affirmative litigation, lessons learned for future efforts, and a discussion on where affirmative litigation is likely needed for future efforts and anticipated issues. 

9:30 AM – 9:40 AM:  Break

9:40 AM – 11:00 AM: Session II - “The Role of Amicus Briefing in Defending Second Amendment Challenges to Gun Laws" 
Moderator: Leigh Rome, Giffords Law Center
Shira Feldman, Brady
Timothy Howard, Freshfields
Makennan McBryde, March for Our Lives
Yvin Shin, March for Our Lives            

Session Description: Beyond affirmative litigation efforts, individuals, organizations, and government entities have increasingly turned towards amicus briefs to defend important gun safety laws from Second Amendment challenges. This panel provides a practitioner’s perspective on using amicus briefs, focusing on their impact, their ability to incorporate specialized knowledge or expertise in relevant fields, such as constitutional law, criminology, public health, or firearms policy, and challenges posted by an amicus program.

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM: Brief Remarks by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Giffords Law Center, followed by serving of lunch (provided) 

12:30 PM – 1:15 PM: Keynote Address by Congressman Eric Swalwell

1:15 PM – 1:30 PM: Break

1:30 PM – 3:00 PM: Session III - “Ethical Use of History in Second Amendment Litigation”
Moderator: William “Billy” Clark, Giffords Law Center
Dr. Saul Cornell, Fordham University
Julia Hesse, Choate
Dr. Brennan Rivas, Independent Historian
Kevin Schascheck, Attorney
Dr. Jennifer Tucker, Wesleyan University

Session Description: In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the Supreme Court held that the constitutionality of modern gun safety measures must be evaluated by direct analogy to history, unmediated by familiar doctrinal tests. Following this holding, practitioners litigating Second Amendment cases must engage with historical texts and records in arguing whether a given gun law is consistent with historical analogs. This approach has called into question the ethical uses of history in making these arguments. Are advocates engaging with the full historical record? Can the historical record be manipulated to advance an advocate’s position? And how and by whom should this historical evidence be admitted in Second Amendment litigation? To answer these questions, this panel brings together both historians who write, publish, and serve as expert witnesses in Second Amendment issues, along with practitioners who are using these writings and testimony to advocate for their clients. 

3:00 PM: Closing Remarks
Kimball Anderson, Winston & Strawn LLP

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