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Darin Scheer is a general commercial litigation attorney in rural Casper, Wyoming, where he lives on a small cattle farm with his wife. As a volunteer firefighter, he has responded to suicides and accidental shootings.

He is an [American Bar Association] delegate for his state. At the 2020 midyear meeting in Austin, Texas, he objected to a resolution in favor of stricter rules for gun permits.

“I don’t think that the ABA should be in the business of recommending one-size-fits-all, top-down requirements for an issue like this that is constitutional,” Scheer said before the House passed the resolution.

What’s often lost in the decades-long fight over gun rights and laws is that Americans’ relationship to guns differs depending on where they live, Scheer says. He says people in his community do not buy guns just for self-defense. There is a tradition of fathers passing rifles down to their sons and teaching them how to hunt. Scheer says it sometimes appears to gun owners that constitutional rights are trampled because of the “irresponsible behavior of the few.”

“That irresponsible use leads to horrible tragedy. I’m not blind to that, and that’s wrenching. And I think anybody that ignores that side of the debate is being close-minded as well,” Scheer says.

Is there space in the middle to meet? J. Adam Skaggs, a special advisor to the ABA’s Standing Committee on Gun Violence and chief counsel and policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, says it is hard to find common ground when the gun rights side is pushing “an extremist agenda in the courts.” On the other hand, he says gun control advocates have much in common with Americans who support reasonable regulations.

“I think the central argument is that like all other rights, the Second Amendment is not unlimited and has always coexisted with strong regulations and laws,” Skaggs says. “That’s no different today than it was at any other point in history.”

— Matt Reynolds in Lawyers involved in the gun debate are primed for the Supreme Court to take the next big case

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