The designated recipient of the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month Award for January is gun rights attorney Richard E. Gardiner of Fairfax, Virginia.

In nominating Gardiner for the Award, John Michael Snyder, CCRKBA Public Affairs Director, said that “during this period in our struggle to maintain the traditional, Second Amendment individual civil right of law-abiding American citizens to keep and bear arms, the gun grabbers more and more are attempting to use the legal and judicial systems in our country to undermine and eliminate that right. Hence, it is extremely important that there be a number of dedicated and competent attorneys ready, willing and able to rise in the courts to defend our rights.

“One of these defenders is Richard Gardiner, a gentleman of the law whom I myself have known personally now for a good number of years. For some time he has specialized in firearms rights cases and has a full plate of work these days. Committed to the defense of the right to keep and bear arms, he certainly is most deserving of this Award.”

In recent months, Attorney Gardiner has argued in court that Alexandria, Virginia City Manager Vola Lawson overstepped her authority when she banned licensed firearms on city property.

“She doesn’t have the authority to make law,” said Gardiner on November 28, 1998, before Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Alfred Swersky. Gardiner represents four plaintiffs who are members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

In 1997, Gardiner also represented a group of Fairfax County, Virginia residents who successfully challenged a county order banning firearms on county property.

In the Alexandria case, Gardiner argues that Lawson is “an employee of the City Council” and that her order “goes beyond her authority and creates a prohibition that doesn’t exist in the law.”

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, people may carry legally handguns if they have a valid concealed handgun permit. The state law establishing such licenses stipulates that property owners may ban concealed handguns from their property, but it does not indicate specifically that cities or counties may ban them, said Gardiner.

Judge Swersky said he would rule later in the case.

Richard was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on September 16, 1951. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Union College in Schenectady, New York in 1973, served in the United States Navy, and then earned a Juris Doctorate from the George Mason School of Law in Fairfax, Virginia in 1978. He and his wife, the former Maagosia Jozwik, were married on October 1, 1986 and now are the parents of two children, Thomas, 9, and Joanna, 7.

From 1994 until the present, Richard has been a sole practitioner specializing in administrative, criminal and general litigation in federal and state courts, with a focus on firearms matters.

He’s been co-counsel in challenges to the Brady Act, counsel for Penn Arms/Intratec in its challenge to the federal so-called “assault weapon” ban, counsel for plaintiff in a challenge to the Virginia ban on the Striker 12, counsel for plaintiff in a challenge to the designation of the Striker 12 as a “destructive device,” counsel for defendants on various concealed weapon charges, counsel for the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, counsel for a federally licensed importer regarding the seizure of firearms and the denial of an import permit, and counsel for various federally licensed dealers in criminal prosecutions and license revocation proceedings.

From 1979 to 1994, in fact, Gardiner worked for the National Rifle Association, serving as Legislative Counsel (1991-1994), Director of State and Local Affairs (1989-1991), and Assistant General Counsel (1979-1989).

Richard is the author of “To Preserve Liberty – A Look at the Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” Northern Kentucky Law Review, Vol. 10, 1, 1982; co-author of “NRA and Criminal Justice Policy: The Effectiveness of the NRA as a Public Interest Group,” delivered at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology, 1986; co-author of “NRA and Law Enforcement Opposition to the Brady Act: from Congress to the District Courts,” St. John’s Journal of Legal Commentary, Vol. 10, Issue 1, Fall 1994; and co-author of “The Sullivan Principles: Protecting the Second Amendment from Civil Abuse,” 19 Seton Hall Legislative Journal 737 (No. 3, 1995).