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Meet the man who took down D.C.’s handgun ban

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Saturday was a great day for gun rights advocates when a federal judge overturned Washington D.C.'s ban on carrying handguns outside the home. But did you know that the victorious attorney representing the challengers in Palmer v DC also successfully argued District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, which overturned the first DC gun ban?

Meet Alan Gura, a partner at Gura & Possessky, PLLC, and probably the Second Amendment’s most successful legal champion. In addition to his victories over the DC government, Gura has two other notable 2nd Amendment success stories. In 2010, he prevailed in another landmark gun rights case before the Supreme Court, McDonald v Illinois, when the Court issued a 5-4 ruling that Chicago's handgun ban was unconstitutional. Two years later, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Illinois’ total ban on the carrying of defensive handguns outside the home. The Illinois General Assembly a year later then overrode Governor Pat Quinn's veto of a bill passed in June 2013, which allowed Illinois to start issuing concealed carry permits. Illinois was the last U.S. state to allow concealed carry.

Gura was born in Israel in 1971 and moved to Los Angeles with his family when he was just 7 years old. After graduating from the Georgetown University Law Center, Gura began his legal career serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Terrence W. Boyle, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina. After his work in North Carolina, Gura moved back to California and became a Deputy Attorney General for the State of California. Gura's job as Deputy Attorney General was to defend the State of California and its employees in state and federal courts.

Gura revealed in a 2008 interview with Washington Jewish Week that he first became a gun owner in the early 1990s because he wanted to be able to defend himself against crime. One of the key factors in his decision to buy a weapon was the 1992 Watts riots in Los Angeles, which Gura said he watched on TV "with a great deal of concern" while he was an undergraduate at Cornell. He also noted that he has never had use a gun in self-defense.

In same interview, he expressed confusion as to why so many of his fellow Jews oppose the right to bear arms, considering the horrible atrocities they have suffered in the past. "It's puzzling. Many Jews seem to prefer heavy government intervention, and it's not a good thing," Gura said. "Jews often have the mistaken belief that the government is a beneficent force to always do good and help people out."

Gura chooses cases in line with his libertarian philosophy where he can play a role is reducing governmental interference in the day-to-day lives of Americans. As he explained in a 2012 interview:

"I try to find intellectually engaging work that will make America a better place. I want to increase individual freedoms. I dislike the petty tyranny, annoying regulations and government nannies trying to control everything. That’s not the society we agreed to under the Constitution."

This is good news for liberty-loving Americans and bad news for Governments with a Big Brother mentality. Americans in general hate lawyers unless they need one, so it is nice to see an attorney actually making a positive impact for a change.

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