My Plan to Post Articles to LearnAboutGuns.com More Frequently

I created LearnAboutGuns.com when I was in law school.  Working and being in school was time consuming – but not nearly as time consuming as being an attorney and having a wife a children.  So, the time I’ve had to spend on this website has gone down over the years.

Going forward, I’m going to try and set aside more time for LearnAboutGuns.com.

If anyone has any suggestions for article topics, please feel free to comment here or email me at eric@puryearlaw.com

Concealed Carry at my Law Firm – and the Backlash from a Judge

For 4 years, my law firm has offered employees a $50/month bonus if they choose to take the training to obtain their permit to carry, lawfully obtain that permit, and lawfully carry at the office.  I mentioned that bonus in passing a couple years ago.   On March 17, 2015, a boyfriend of a (still unidentified) former employee apparently mentioned that to a morning talk radio show that was discussing things employees could do to earn some extra money while at work.  I returned from the courthouse that morning to find my staff smiling and telling me to check my voicemail, as they knew about that statement on the radio and a subsequent call from a news station.  Some of my staff and I sat down for interviews with some very nice reporters from WQAD and KWQC, and the stories ran on the local tv and internet news on March 17 and 18, 2015.  I was quite honored that people in the Quad Cities cared about our carry bonus, and thought that was the end of it.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that things were just getting started.  A variety of news outlets around the country picked up the story, including the Chicago Tribune and Headline News, and I also was interviewed for radio and internet stories, including my favorite podcast.  Particularly satisfying from a professional standpoint was the ABA Journal (an excellent legal system news outlet) picking up the story.  Dozens of emails came in from people who liked the policy, and I received not a single negative email.  All in all, it was a fun week and I feel great knowing that millions of people were thinking about and talking about lawful concealed carry in the workplace.  My staff really got a kick out of it too, and we hope we have done our small part to help advance lawful gun ownership.

It should go without saying, but as an attorney, I believe I have a responsibility to respect the law and encourage others to do so too.  I also know that I have an ethical duty to obey the law, and it is hard to think of a place where that duty is stronger than inside the courthouse itself.  In the news interviews, I went to great lengths to talk about the fact that we support safe and lawful gun ownership.  Nothing in the news articles remotely suggested that I or any employee of my firm carried a gun in the courthouse (as that would be quite unlawful).  Indeed, the final words in the ABA Journal article were a quote from me, where I made our respect for the law crystal clear.  I said “It’s not a matter of just carrying a gun,” he told WQAD.” It’s a matter of carrying a gun safely and lawfully, and we emphasize that here.”  That ABA Journal quote, was itself a quote from the local news.

Then on March 24, 2015, the fun  associated with our carry bonus came to an abrupt end.  I received a voicemail on behalf of the Honorable Chief Judge Marlita Greve, of the 7th Judicial District of Iowa (the trial court for the area where my office is located and about half of my firm’s work takes place).  The voicemail requested that I call the Chief Judge.  I assumed that call was about a scheduling change or some other mundane matter in a pending case, as that is why judges tend to call the office.  Instead, Chief Judge Greve inquired as to whether I or my employee in the recent news articles carried a firearm in the courthouse, and expressed how she wished to hear the answer to those questions from me personally.  I have never before been so surprised while speaking to any judge.  I respectfully assured Judge Greve that neither I nor my employee would so violate the law.  When the conversation was concluded, I was left with the most intense feeling of personal and professional offense that I have felt in a great many years, if not my entire life.

On the morning of March 25, 2015 I sent the following email to Chief Judge Greve (roughly 16 hours after our phone conversation):

Dear Honorable Chief Judge Greve of the 7th Judicial District of Iowa:

I am emailing you to follow-up on our telephone conversation on March 24, 2015, in which you inquired as to whether I or my employee in the recent news articles carried a firearm in the courthouse, and expressed how you wished to hear the answer to those questions from me personally. As I respectfully stated during our phone conversation, the answer to both questions is an emphatic “no.” While I believe I am relatively quick at thinking on my feet when in court and providing responses to unexpected questions during legal arguments, that is likely due to having been prepared for court and all the possible things that might be discussed. Our discussion was one that I did not anticipate in the slightest, which is why I am writing to respectfully say more.

To be sure, I believe strongly in the Second Amendment and the benefits of lawful and responsible firearm ownership. I have known many clients who were the victims of crimes that may have been prevented if only they had been lawfully armed for self defense. I also know clients who have had tragedy in their lives as a result of actions taken by a person who was not trained in safe and lawful firearm use, where I believe that such safety training could have prevented the tragedy. Accordingly, as stated in the news reports that you mentioned seeing, for the last four years I have paid my employees a $50 bonus each month if they choose to undergo firearms training, lawfully obtain a permit to carry, and exercise that right at my firm’s office. I have neither said nor done anything that would even remotely suggest that I either violate or tolerate violations of firearms laws, or that such carrying of firearms is in any way connected to the courthouse or any other prohibited places. Instead, my comments to the news reporters emphasized lawful and safe firearm ownership, which is what I advocate. Indeed, such advocacy (and speaking to the news about it) is the polar opposite of unlawful firearm possession or use, as a person who unlawfully carries or uses a firearm logically won’t speak to the news about it and draw scrutiny upon themselves.

As an attorney who is licensed in both Iowa and Illinois, as well as the Federal courts of each State, I am an officer of the court. As someone whose practice includes many firearm-related cases, I am acutely aware of the firearms laws in each State. I have taken multiple firearms-related cases to jury and bench trials in both Iowa and Illinois. Currently, I am representing at least two clients in pending felony firearms cases in the 7th Judicial District of Iowa, and at least 3 similarly situated clients in the 14th Judicial Circuit of Illinois, not to mention a variety of other firearms-related matters that do not involve pending criminal charges. I am an NRA-Certified firearms instructor as well. For those reasons and more, I take seriously my moral, ethical, and legal duty to conform my behavior to the law, especially as to firearms.

Elizabeth Payne, the employee of my firm featured in the news article about whom you inquired, is a law abiding woman who has worked at my firm for over two years. I have provided her with firearms training on multiple occasions, to include discussions about the relevant State and Federal laws as to the carrying of firearms. In her time at my firm, she has shown a law-abiding character and good judgement. I would (and did, during our conversation) personally vouch for Ms. Payne’s good character and strict observance of firearms laws. Were I to think otherwise of any employee, then that employee would not be employed by my firm.

For those reasons, I am at a total loss as to why you would find it necessary to ask me if I routinely (or ever) commit a crime by carrying a firearm into the courthouse. I have never before had a judge ask me if I committed crimes in the courthouse, and am still in shock as I send this email. I cannot help but feel the way I imagine any attorney would feel if the Chief Judge of the county in which they live and work called to inquire whether that attorney commits a string of crimes and also condones such unlawful conduct upon the part of a law firm employee. Indeed, being asked if I committed and condoned such crimes brings to mind a traffic stop from when I was in college and was asked by a police officer whether I “had anything illegal in the car” as part of writing me a minor speeding ticket. I found that question to be demeaning, as I was a law-abiding college student who also worked, and the officer had no reason to believe I was doing anything other than driving a bit too fast on the highway. However, that feeling was tempered by the fact that the police officer had never met me before and possibly asked that of many people he ticketed without having any real suspicion. So, I told the officer that I was not breaking any other laws, took my speeding ticket, and went on with my day. Your Honor, however, has known me for nearly five years and has presided over countless trials and other court appearances where I appeared before you. Prior to our conversation today, I truly believed that I had shown you respect and earned respect from you such that the very thought of me committing a crime by carrying a firearm in court would be something you would brush off as absurd. It truly pains me, personally and professionally, that I was mistaken as to that belief. It similarly causes me to worry about future court appearances where Your Honor would be the presiding judge.

I would respectfully request to know more about why it is that you raised this issue with me. If there is anyone who has said anything to you that made you reach out to me on this issue, and you choose to provide me with their contact information, I will gladly discuss the matter with those individuals so that any concerns they have are alleviated. To be clear, I have no quarrel here. Instead, I have only the desire to clear my name as to whatever caused you to contact me, and to ensure that whatever concerns you have do not cause problems for my clients as I appear before you (and the other Judges) in the the future. I want to make clear that I have nothing but respect for you, the office you hold, our judicial system, the oaths I took to become an attorney, and the form of government that both provides permits to carry and restricts carrying in the courthouse. Founding my law firm and watching it grow from just myself five years ago to a firm that now employs four attorneys and five non-attorneys has represented the American dream for me, and only further reinforces my respect for all of that, to include the legal system that made it all possible. It is because of that same respect that I can think of nothing more demeaning than to have it suggested that I am committing crimes as I go about my work in that very legal system.

I hope that this email has cleared up any lingering concerns you may have had as to myself and any of the other people by my firm, and that you do not believe me to be someone who commits crimes in your courthouse. If there is anything further that you wish to discuss regarding this matter, please feel free to email me.

I have CC’ed District Court Administrator Cathy Gaylord, as she was also involved in the call yesterday.

Respectfully,

Eric D. Puryear
Attorney at Law
Puryear Law P.C.
3719 Bridge Ave # 6
Davenport, IA 52807
Phone: (563)265-8344
Fax: (866)415-5032
Email: eric@puryearlaw.com
Website: www.PuryearLaw.com

In particular, I’m unpleasantly surprised that the only grief I got in relation to the news stories came from within the judicial system – which is where I would expect knowledge of the law and trust in attorneys would at its highest.  I am also disappointed that this came from a Judge who I have known for years and spoken with hundreds of times.

I was on the fence for some time about what, if anything, to publicly say about this situation.  After more than two days passed with no response from Judge Greve, and much thought on my part, I decided to post this article.  My motivation in doing so is several fold:

Firstly, I believe that transparency is important anytime that either the legal system or our constitutional rights are involved, and here both are involved.  As to the legal system aspect, the connection is obvious due to the nature of the Chief Judge’s position, my work as an attorney, and the substance of the phone conversation.  The chilling effect upon free speech about an important constitutional and political issue are readily apparent as well.  Property rights are also implicated, as the policy that I have at my firm deals with my employees’ option to exercise their lawful right to carry at our office, which is on private property, and in no way involves gun possession on the property of any other person (or the government), or the commission of any crime.

Secondly, I firmly believe that I am an ordinary person who lives in ordinary times – meaning that if I experience a situation (good or bad), I start with the presumption that it is something other people have experienced in the past and will experience in the future.  For that reason, I presume that I am not the first attorney to have a judge essentially ask them if they are a criminal after that judge learns that the attorney supports the 2nd Amendment.  Hopefully, this article may be of use to judges in the future who choose to do some Google due-diligence when considering how to react upon learning that an attorney in their area is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment.  This article similarly be of use to an attorney who finds themselves in my shoes.

Finally, I have met many law-abiding gun owners over the years who were reluctant to have it known that they owned guns.  That has ranged from coworkers keeping any gun-related statements to whispers, to friends who politely insist that I never utter their name and “gun” in the same breath if another person could possibly overhear.  The only solution to many gun-owners’ completely legitimate concern that their exercise of a constitutional right could cause them serious employment problems is to fix the underlying anti-gun bias, and I hope this article helps ever so slightly.

Regardless of the unpleasantness that resulted, I remain thrilled that my colleagues and I had the opportunity to get people thinking and talking about concealed carry.  The positive reaction really brightened our days at the office, and one negative situation didn’t undo that.

UPDATE March 27, 2015:

About 6 hours after I posted this article, I received the following email reply from the Honorable Chief Judge Greve:

Eric:
As we discussed, concerns were raised to me because of the recent television spot concerning your office and firearms. When concerns are raised to me, it is my responsibility and obligation as chief judge to follow up on those concerns.

Thanks,

Marlita A. Greve
Chief Judge, 7th Jud. Dist.
Scott County Courthouse
400 W. Fourth Street
Davenport, IA 52801

I appreciate the Chief Judge taking the time to reply to my email.  However, I am also respectfully disappointed that the Chief Judge declined to provide anything other than the very brief statement that “concerns were raised.”

If there actually is someone raising a “concern” based upon the news reports, that person is either being dishonest or lacks the ability to understand the language (English) in which the interviews were conducted.  I say that because, as discussed more fully above, I said absolutely nothing that could remotely be taken to suggest that I or my staff carry guns in the courthouse.  Instead, I went to great lengths to discuss that fact that we emphasize safe and lawful carry, and that the $50/month bonus was for lawfully carrying at the office.  Moreover, given the existence of the Internet, anyone can easily find and view the news reports and see for themselves exactly what my employees and I said.

Updates

As I previously mentioned, I took a break from updating LearnAboutGuns.com to focus on starting my law firm.  I am happy to say that business is booming, and I now employ two attorneys and three paralegals. I’m also happy to announce that my wife also gave birth to our first child (Lily), and both mother and baby are doing great.  All in all, it has been the busiest (and best) several months of my life.

With that said, I have not done a good job of updating LearnAboutGuns.com.  I had hoped to resume regular posting a few months back, but failed to do so after about a week.  So as not to risk sounding like a broken record, I will refrain from promising regular updates at this time.  Instead, I will just reaffirm that I have not forgotten about this website, remain committed to gun rights, and plan to post more often :)

My thanks to everyone who has stuck around and still visits despite my absence!

I’m Back

Several months ago, I left the law firm where I was working as an associate attorney and formed my own law firm, Puryear Law P.C. Since doing so, I’ve been quite busy with both legal work and the administrative matters that come along with running a business.  Business has been excellent, and the firm has grown rather rapidly.  I’ve had to add both employees and office space to keep pace the firm’s growth, which has not yet leveled off.  However, that busyness has prevented me from writing for LearnAboutGuns.com since the beginning of February 2011.

With my employees getting up to speed, and many of the business administrative matters sorted out, I now have more free time to devote to this website.  It is now my goal to resume posting articles at least 5 days a week.  The first new article will be published in approximately 12 hours. I would like to thank everyone for their patience over the last couple of months, and reassure everything that I remain as committed to gun rights as ever.

My Apologies for the (Temporary!) Lack of Articles

Due to the 14+ hour days I’ve been working as I get my law firm up and running, I haven’t had time to post many articles lately. I’ve also been slower at responding to emails. Please rest assured this is a temporary situation, and I expect to resume my normal posting routine by the beginning of next week. I have not given up on this website or gun rights – not by a longshot! On a personal level, I am happy to be this busy so soon after opening my own law firm :)

Attend Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day (IGOLD) 2011!

Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day, the annual event sponsored by the Illinois State Rifle Association, will be held on Thursday, March 10, 2011.  I firmly intend to be there this year, and encourage everyone else to attend as well.  IGOLD 2011 details can be seen below:

Read moreAttend Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day (IGOLD) 2011!

I’ve Formed My Own Law Firm

Some of the earliest readers of this website will recall my career path as a lawyer thus far: I finished law school and worked as a government law clerk while studying for (and passin) the Illinois bar exam.  I stayed with the government for a while, then accepted an attorney position with a law firm in the Quad Cities area of Illinois/Iowa.  At that firm, I handled the majority of the court appearances on cases which ranged from murder down to traffic tickets. I also took (and passed)  the Iowa bar exam, so that I could practice law in both Illinois and Iowa. Having gained trial and law-firm-business experience, I recently departed from that law firm, and started my own firm: Puryear Law P.C.

Right now, the majority of my cases are criminal defense and criminal appeal matters, which I find to be a exciting areas of law.  I am also handling various civil matters, which I enjoy as well.  As a gun rights proponent, I have an interest in self defense and its implications in criminal and civil matters, and plan to spend a good deal of time on that area of the law. Given my background in Computer Science and the time I spent at previous firms that focused on business law and other transactional matters, I may also spend more time in that area of law.

Taking the 1,000,000 or so steps needed to form a law firm, such as renting office space, securing the necessary insurance, selecting furniture, putting together a website, etc. have taken up quite a bit of my time over the last week or so.  That is why there was a reduction in posts to LearnAboutGuns.com – but rest assured, I remain committed to this website, and plan to write for years to come.  Those who have emailed me and not yet received a response should also rest assured that I will reply (I am working my way through over 100 emails right now, slowly but surely!)

Eric D. Puryear
Attorney at Law (IL & IA)
Puryear Law P.C.
3719 Bridge Ave # 6
Davenport, IA 52807
Phone: (309)644-4955
Email: eric@puryearlaw.com
Web: www.PuryearLaw.com


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About the Recent Reduction in Posts…

Over the last couple of weeks especially this last week, I’ve posted fewer articles than normal.  Rest assured, that was a temporary thing, and was the result of me being very busy.  I plan to resume my normal posting schedule tomorrow.  The upshot is that I will have some exciting news to announce soon (related to both guns and my personal life). :)

MyGunSpot.com Update

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned my newest website, MyGunSpot.  It is a social networking website for gun owners, which currently has about 80 members.  At MyGunSpot, you can connect with other gun owners to discuss gun-related matters, join groups, create your own blog, share pictures, play games, find gun-related books/DVDs, use the gun-related classifieds, and stay up to date on gun-related news, all for free.

Read moreMyGunSpot.com Update

The Solution to My First Unpleasant Gun Store Experience: A Local FFL (M&M Pawnbrokers)

Last month, I wrote about an unpleasant gun store experience, and my decision to boycott that gun store.  That story now has a happy ending, thanks to a local FFL who has really impressed me:

Read moreThe Solution to My First Unpleasant Gun Store Experience: A Local FFL (M&M Pawnbrokers)

My First Unpleasant Gun Store Experience – Thoughts?

I’ve generally been quite happy with the gun stores and ranges I’ve been to, both in the Chicago and Quad Cities areas.  However that streak came to an end today, with a trip to B & B Shooting Supplies.  The story is below, and I’m curious what other people think of the situation and my reaction.

Read moreMy First Unpleasant Gun Store Experience – Thoughts?

I’m Sitting for the Bar Exam: No More Posts this Week

I’m taking the Illinois bar exam Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, so I won’t be posting anything new until Monday, August 3rd.  I’ll also be unable to moderate comments or answer emails during this time.  But rest assured, any comments/emails will be attended to upon my return.

Read moreI’m Sitting for the Bar Exam: No More Posts this Week

A Message to a Certain Village of Oak Park Official (and others who wish to contact me by phone)

Early this morning, a certain official from the village of Oak Park, IL left a comment on this website in which he or she discussed the village’s handgun ban, and a desire to speak with me.  He or she requested that I call him or her on the phone, because he or she did not have a non-work-related email account.  The official also requested that I not publish his or her name/position/phone#/etc. on this website.  While I will, of course, respect the Oak Park official’s request that I not divulge his or her personal information, I decline to give him or her a call, and encourage him or her to sign up for a free email account if he or she wishes to privately communicate with me.  Since he or she did not leave an email address at which he or she would like to be contacted, I’ve decided to publish my reply here:

Read moreA Message to a Certain Village of Oak Park Official (and others who wish to contact me by phone)

My Other Interactions with the Local News Media

Given the recent comments from an Oak Park newspaper writer, I thought this would be a good opportunity to mention the other interactions I’ve had with local news media:

Read moreMy Other Interactions with the Local News Media

Comments Now Allowed on All Articles: feel free to leave your feedback

Previously, comments on this site’s articles were disabled due to my concerns over spam. However, I’ve now instituted new spam prevention measures, and enabled comments. Please feel free to leave comments on any articles :)

And if you have any gun related topics you would like me to address, just email me or ask in the discussion forum. I can’t guarantee that I’ll write an article about the topic you suggest, but the chances are pretty good that I will.

My Biographical and Demographical Information

I’ve noticed that some people tend to buy into the propaganda released by the anti-gun groups or those who just seem to not know any better, and believe that gun owners are uneducated and violence prone. This is plainly untrue, so I thought I would give some of my biographical and demographical information:

Read moreMy Biographical and Demographical Information

Contact the Author of this Site

My name is Eric Puryear, and in case you would like to know a little more about me, my biographical and demographical information is available here.

If you have any questions (except requests for legal advice), concerns or, suggestions for this site, or you would like to have a polite and civil debate about firearms rights, I can be reached by email at

Read moreContact the Author of this Site

How You Can Support Gun Rights

There are a variety of ways that we can all do our part to protect gun rights. I have listed a few of these ways below

Read moreHow You Can Support Gun Rights