July 30, 2015

Jenner & Block successfully concluded an important and innovative monitorship the firm has been handling since December 2006 involving gun dealers the City of New York (under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg) sued for selling firearms in violation of federal law.  The 18 dealers at issue, located in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia, were targeted because of the large number of guns traced back to them that had been used in crimes committed in New York between 1994 and 2001. 

Partner Peter B. Pope has been acting as special master in the matter since 2011.  Former partner Andrew Weissmann was originally appointed to the position by Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York; Mr. Weissmann served until he left the firm to become the FBI’s general counsel.

The role of the special master was to monitor the sales activities of the dealers in question and ensure that each was in full compliance with all laws regulating the sales and purchases of firearms.  One particular initiative was educating the dealers about straw purchases, that is, gun purchases by a person who would not be the ultimate possessor – a frequent tool of the illegal gun trade. 

The special master’s duties recently concluded, and Mr. Pope submitted his final report to the court.  In it, he cited a 2013 study by Johns Hopkins University that concluded that, seven years after the lawsuits were filed and the monitorship established, the NYC Police Department was recovering 84 percent fewer crime guns from the monitored dealers than in the pre-lawsuit period – a strong measure of success.

Mr. Pope was assisted by Partners Tarsha A. Phillibert and Michael W. Ross.

Judge Weinstein’s response to Mr. Pope's final report noted, “The Special Master’s final report is received with congratulations to the Special Master for a job well done.”  Mr. Pope is photographed and quoted in a front-page article in the New York Law Journal that examines the monitorship.  He tells the NYLJ that, going forward, he hopes retailers will continue to sell weapons only to eligible customers.