Last spring, Proskauer launched a partnership with the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) – an organization focused on empowering Asian American, immigrant, and low-income communities in New York City. Continuing our partnership, we launched an “Advancing Social Justice Summer Teen Series,” where a select group of students took part in a six-week series where conversations addressed paths to law school and social justice issues.
As COVID-19 ravages communities across the United States, another serious public health crisis is also escalating: gun violence. Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization and longtime Proskauer partner dedicated to ending gun violence, has been examining the impact of COVID-19 on the gun violence epidemic, as well as making important recommendations.
In a recent report, Everytown found that there was a major spike in gun sales between March and May of 2020 in comparison to previous years, as well as a corresponding rise in gun deaths. As a result of these sales, there has been a corresponding sharp increase in requests for background checks, which puts immense stress on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Everytown notes that the primary and most dangerous consequence of this strain on resources is the so-called “Charleston loophole.” While federal law mandates that licensed gun dealers run a background check on any prospective gun buyer, this loophole allows any purchaser, even one with an incomplete background check, to proceed by default with their gun purchase if three business days have elapsed since the background check request was submitted – the technicality through which Dylann Roof was able to secure a firearm to kill nine Black churchgoers in South Carolina. As a result, a significant number of gun sales (potentially over 90,000) have been processed during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic thus far without complete background checks.
Proskauer honored its lawyers and staff who have made significant contributions to the Firm’s pro bono and corporate social responsibility programs this year at its 12th Annual Golden Gavel Awards ceremony on January 22. The following is a list of recipients alphabetically by project.
Protecting Immigrant Youth
Team New Orleans: Catholic Charities-Archdiocese of New Orleans – Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
In collaboration with Catholic Charities-Archdiocese of New Orleans, this team successfully represented six immigrant children from Honduras and El Salvador in obtaining predicate orders from Louisiana juvenile courts finding that the children cannot be reunified with one or both of their parents due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect, and that it would not be in the children’s best interest to return to their home countries. These predicate orders open the door for these children to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, an immigration remedy that would protect these children from deportation and give them a pathway to lawful permanent residence in the United States.
One of the most important issues facing this country today is gun violence and how to prevent it. Lawyers can play a vital role in advising legislators who want to enact meaningful gun regulations, and by using their skills to try to prevent the adoption of laws designed to block meaningful gun regulations. Last month, a Proskauer team achieved a victory with nationwide implications by persuading a Florida state trial court to strike down a Florida gun law as unconstitutional.
The Florida law preempted “the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition,” meaning municipalities and counties could not pass gun regulations. Unfortunately, such a preemption provision is not unusual, but in 2011, the Florida legislature took it a step further by adding substantial penalties for violating the preemption. Under the law, if a municipality enacts a gun law later found preempted, it is subject to a private damages lawsuit with liability up to $100,000, plus uncapped attorneys’ fees, and the legislators who voted for the preempted law are subject to a $5,000 fine and removal from office by the governor.