2nd Annual Firearms Law in Virginia Seminar 2021

MCLE Credits: 6.5
Ethics Credits Included: 1.0

Monday, October 18, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET
  • Live Webcast
  • Live Telephone
Learn more about Virginia CLE webcast format
Learn more about Virginia CLE telephone format
MCLE Credit: 6.5 (Ethics: 1.0)
Live-Interactive Credit: 6.5 (all dates, all formats) Live Interactive MCLE Credit Symbol
VIDC Re-Certification Credit: 6.5 felony/misdemeanor (VIDC Information)
Designation Credit: 6.5 Trial Practice/Litigation, 1.0 Ethics (Designations Information)
Registration Fee: $309


Why Attend?

  • Hear Virginia Supreme Court Justice Stephen McCullough review how Virginia courts have construed the Constitutional right to bear arms, and to what extent U.S. Supreme Court decisions might be persuasive on the scope of the right and the standard of review
  • Get an overview from Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Richard Gardiner of new and existing Virginia firearms laws
  • Examine unique challenges for the practitioner in planning and drafting gun trusts
  • Review the most common aspects of federal firearms law, including the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act, for the practitioner
  • Learn how the rules for use of deadly force in self-defense differ depending on place and circumstance
  • In the Ethics session, discover how “Second Amendment sanctuaries” raise issues concerning the discretion of Commonwealth’s attorneys to decline to prosecute selected cases, and how counsel may advise public officials regarding whether to enforce laws deemed unconstitutional

While the U.S. Supreme Court has finally recognized that the Second Amendment means what it says—“the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”—literally thousands of federal, state, and local firearm restrictions are on the books. Explore the ramifications of these “sacred” rights, at both the federal and state levels. Featuring an outstanding faculty, this seminar is intended to equip the practitioner with the ammunition needed to represent clients facing gun charges with creativity and competence.


Discounts available for Virginia CLE webcast-telephone-live seminars Follow link to learn about the Virginia CLE Online Bundle with savings up to 45% Follow link to learn about coupons for lawyers in First Year in Virginia practice Follow link to learn about discount for New Virginia Lawyers (first 3 years) Follow link to learn about Government Employee discount Follow link to learn about Legal Aid discount

Follow link to learn about coupons for lawyers in First Year in Virginia practice Follow link to learn about coupons for lawyers in First Year in Virginia practice Follow link to learn about Government Employee discount Follow link to learn about Legal Aid discount

Registration Deadlines:
Webcast: 10 minutes prior to seminar. If you register for a webcast the day of the seminar, your e-mail receipt will include a link to launch the seminar and download the materials.
Telephone: Online registration ends at 11:59 p.m. the day preceding the seminar
Call (800) 979-8253 to register up to one hour prior to the seminar

Cancellation Policy: Cancellation/transfer requests will be honored until 5:00 p.m. the day preceding the seminar. You will, however, be charged $90 if you cancel or transfer your registration to a different seminar after the link to the materials has been e-mailed by Virginia CLE.

Full refunds or transfers are available up to two days after a webcast in the unlikely event that you experience technical difficulties.

MCLE Credit Caveat: The MCLE Board measures credits by the time you spend in attendance. If you enter a seminar late or leave it early, or both, you must reflect those adjustments accurately in the credits you report on your credit reporting form. A code will be given at the end of the seminar, which must be written on your MCLE form.

Can't Attend?
E-mail distance_ed@vacle.org to be notified when/if this program is made available as an online or USB seminar.
E-mail publications@vacle.org to be notified when/if this program's seminar materials are made available for sale.


COURSE SCHEDULE (October 18) (Eastern Time)

9:00 Announcements and Introductions
9:05 Virginia’s Constitutional Right to Bear Arms
Justice Steve R. McCullough, Virginia Supreme Court

The Virginia Bill of Rights, Art. 13, provides that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed….” How has this been construed by the Virginia courts, and to what extent might the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court be persuasive on the scope of the right and the standard of review?
10:05 Break
10:15 Overview of Virginia Firearms Laws (New and Existing)
Judge Richard E. Gardiner, Fairfax County Circuit Court

Virginia has long regulated concealed weapons, provided for permits to carry handguns, banned firearms at schools, and restricted possession by felons; more recently, background checks have been expanded and handgun purchases are limited to one per month. The legal environment and practice pointers for prosecutors and defense attorneys will be discussed.
11:15 Break
11:30 Gun Trusts
Matthew J. Bergstrom, Arsenal Attorneys

Planning and drafting gun trusts pose unique challenges for the practitioner. Gun trusts, while sometimes confused with conventional living trusts, must be specifically and carefully drafted to avoid causing inadvertent and accidental felonious behavior by grantors, trustees, and beneficiaries of such trusts. An overview of the law, practical tips, and ethical issues involving gun trusts will be covered.
12:30 Lunch Break
1:00 Federal Firearms Laws
James P. Vann, Associate Chief Counsel, ATF

The federal Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act amount to a complex array of regulation. Discussion will be led by an experienced counsel with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This session will cover the most common aspects of federal firearms law for the practitioner, including:

• Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act
• Persons prohibited from possessing firearms, and how firearms rights can be restored
• Federal regulations of interstate commerce in firearms, including regulation of sales and transfers, and firearm dealer licensing
• Federal regulation of carrying and transportation of firearms
2:30 Break
2:45 Use of Deadly Force in Self-Defense
Peter D. Greenspun, Greenspun Shapiro PC

Deadly force may be used in justifiable self-defense, but the rules differ depending on place and circumstance. One of Virginia’s preeminent criminal defense attorneys will survey the rules and give practical tips.
3:45 Break
4:00 Ethics: The Lawyer as Advocate
Stephen P. Halbrook, Attorney and Author of Firearms Law Deskbook

Professional Responsibility Rule 3, Advocate, requires that claims be meritorious, but allows good faith arguments for reversal of existing law and to test the validity of a ruling. “Second Amendment sanctuaries” raise issues concerning the discretion of Commonwealth’s attorneys to decline to prosecute selected cases, and how counsel may advise public officials regarding whether to enforce laws deemed unconstitutional.
5:00 Adjourn
  • Q&A will be handled via chat room for Webcast attendees.
  • Q&A will be handled via e-mail for telephone seminar attendees.



Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., Attorney at Law / Fairfax


Hon. Stephen R. McCullough, Supreme Court of Virginia / Richmond
Hon. Richard E. Gardiner, Fairfax Circuit Court / Fairfax
Matthew Bergstrom, Arsenal Attorneys / Fairfax
Peter D. Greenspun, Greenspun Shapiro PC / Fairfax
Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., Attorney at Law / Fairfax
James P. Vann, Department of Justice, Firearms and Explosives Law Division / Washington, DC


Justice Stephen R. McCullough, Supreme Court of Virginia / Richmond

Justice Stephen R. McCullough has served as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Virginia since 2016. He began his legal career as a law clerk for Justice (later Chief Justice) Leroy R. Hassell, Sr. After clerking, McCullough joined the Virginia Office of the Attorney General as an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Litigation Section, where he handled criminal appeals and defended convictions from collateral attack.

In 2007, he was promoted to Deputy Solicitor General and later to Solicitor General. The Solicitor General Section in the Attorney General’s Office represents Virginia in non-capital cases before the United States Supreme Court, defends state statutes and regulations against constitutional challenge, and handles high-profile cases as assigned by the Attorney General. He was awarded a United States Supreme Court Fellowship with the National Association of Attorneys General and received two "Best Brief" awards from the National Association of Attorneys General for briefs he authored in the United States Supreme Court. McCullough next served as Senior Appellate Counsel and Opinions Counsel in the Office of the Attorney General.

In 2011, the General Assembly of Virginia elected McCullough to a judgeship on the Court of Appeals of Virginia.

Justice McCullough has served on a number of committees and commissions, including the Access to Justice Commission, the Boyd Graves Conference, and the Virginia Bar Association Board of Governors. He currently chairs the Virginia Model Jury Instructions Committee. He has written and lectured extensively on appellate procedure and criminal law.

Justice McCullough is a graduate with high distinction, Phi Beta Kappa, of the University of Virginia. He obtained his J.D. with honors from the University of Richmond Law School, where he was selected for the law review and the moot court board.

Hon. Richard Gardiner, Fairfax Circuit Court / Fairfax

Richard E. Gardiner is a judge of the Fairfax County Circuit Court, having been appointed by the General Assembly in 2017 after a temporary appointment by the Governor in 2016. Prior to that, Judge Gardiner served on the Fairfax County General District Court from 2013 to 2016. Before going on the bench, he practiced law for nineteen years. Based in Fairfax, he focused on criminal defense, civil litigation, and administrative law. Judge Gardiner graduated in 1978 from what is now the Antonin Scalia Law School of George Mason University. He has regularly volunteered and served as a judge in the Law School’s student moot court competitions where students have an opportunity to hone their advocacy skills.

Matthew Bergstrom, Arsenal Attorneys / Fairfax

Matthew Bergstrom serves as Managing Attorney of Arsenal Attorneys™, a law firm he started in 2010. He possesses over 20 years of combined legal and business experience helping clients pursue opportunities and reduce risks. He personally leads the firm's Arsenal Gun Trust™ practice, which has served thousands of clients in more than 30 states. His work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, and various TV and radio programs.

Mr. Bergstrom currently concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning and firearms regulations. He was previously active in international business and consulting. Mr. Bergstrom began his career in Russia and Europe. He also served as a consultant in global affairs, security, technology, and finance for an investment banking firm and for Fortune 100 senior executives in San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC. He has taught various topics in the law for the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the Financial Planners Association, and other organizations.

In addition to his practice of law, Mr. Bergstrom is an entrepreneur and academic. He founded and leads a successful e-commerce venture. He serves as an Adjunct Professor of History at William Jessup University, where he also serves on the Board of Advisors for the school's Institute for Public Policy.

Mr. Bergstrom earned his law degree from the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University in 1997. During law school he served as Executive Editor of the Federal Communications Law Journal. The University awarded him the Elliot R. Lewis Scholarship and an International Fellowship with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic. He received an MBA in international business and marketing from the Helsinki School of Economics, and he graduated from Michigan State University's James Madison College with a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and Russian. He is a member of the bar in California, Virginia, Michigan, and the District of Columbia.

Mr. Bergstrom divides his time between Arsenal Attorneys' offices in California and metropolitan Washington, DC. Whenever possible, he enjoys his time with his wife, three children, and three dogs on the family's farm.

Peter D. Greenspun, Greenspun Shapiro PC / Fairfax

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Peter Greenspun graduated from LaSalle College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1975 and obtained his Juris Doctor from George Mason University School of Law in 1978.

Widely considered by his peers as an expert litigator, Mr. Greenspun has advocated for the rights of his clients in criminal and civil matters ranging from the simplest to the most complex. With over 30 years of experience trying countless cases, he has obtained exceptional results in local, state, and federal trial and appellate courts.

Since 1997 Mr. Greenspun has repeatedly been recognized by the Washingtonian magazine as being among the best lawyers in the Washington, DC, Metropolitan area. In December 2011, he was listed as the top Virginia lawyer. He has also been listed in the Best Lawyers in America since 1999 for white-collar and non-white-collar criminal defense, and has been listed by Virginia Business as a member of “The Legal Elite.” In recognition of his commitment to high ethical and professional standards, he has been awarded the prestigious AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and has received Martindale-Hubbell’s Client Distinction Award.

Mr. Greenspun has tried numerous high-profile, unusual, and complex cases throughout his career. He is also a regular speaker and lecturer on trial technique and strategy at Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars throughout Virginia, and is a past President of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Fairfax Bar Association, and the Fairfax Bar Foundation. It is rumored that he can be seen walking in Fairfax City with his office dog, a Portuguese Water Dog named Rockie.

Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., Attorney at Law / Fairfax

“Stephen Halbrook is an attorney with extensive knowledge of the historical underpinnings of the Second Amendment and practical knowledge of litigating in this rapidly evolving area of law. His writings include topics as diverse as Gun Control in the Third Reich and The Founders’ Second Amendment, and he was heavily involved in Heller and McDonald.” — U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan, in Shepard v. Madigan, 2014 WL 4825592, *7 (S.D. Ill. 2014) (awarding attorney’s fees). See further http://stephenhalbrook.com/.

Mr. Halbrook has been engaged in civil litigation and criminal defense since 1978. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar, District of Columbia Bar, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals—all circuits, other federal courts. He has testified in U.S. Senate and House Committees on numerous firearm bills and on the nominations of executive branch and Supreme Court nominees. Georgetown University Law Center, J.D. (1978); Florida State University, Ph.D. Philosophy (1972). Assistant Professor of Philosophy 1972-81, George Mason University, Howard University, Tuskegee University. Senior Fellow, The Independent Institute.

Mr. Halbrook argued and won Castillo v. U.S., 530 U.S. 120 (2000); Printz v. U.S., 521 U.S. 898 (1997); U.S. v. Thompson/Center Arms Co., 504 U.S. 505 (1992). Co-counsel in Small v. U.S., 544 U.S. 385 (2005), and for NRA in McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010). Counsel for amici curiae 55 Senators, the Senate President, and 250 Representatives in D.C. v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008).

Books authored:

The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right of the People or Privilege of the Ruling Class? (Post Hill Press 2021).
Firearms Law Deskbook: Federal and State Criminal Practice (Thomson/West 2020).
Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance (2018).
Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State” (2013).
The Founders’ Second Amendment (2008, new ed. 2019). Cited in McDonald v. Chicago.
Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms (1998). New edition: Securing Civil Rights (2010). Cited in McDonald v. Chicago and DC v. Heller.
That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right (1984, new edition 2013). Cited in Printz v. U.S.

James P. Vann, United States Department of Justice / Washington DC

James P. Vann serves as the Associate Chief Counsel of the Firearms and Explosives Law Division for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In this position he supervises the attorneys who provide legal services to ATF on national issues involving firearms and explosives law. Previously he served for nine years as the Division Counsel for the Washington Field Division. There he represented ATF at administrative hearings to revoke firearms and explosives licenses, and provided legal advice to agents and investigators on criminal and regulatory matters involving the Gun Control Act, National Firearms Act, Safe Explosives Act, Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act, PACT Act, and other matters within ATF’s jurisdiction. He has also been appointed as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in several judicial districts throughout the country to assist in the prosecution of federal criminal cases.

Mr. Vann has been with the Office of Chief Counsel at ATF for fifteen years. He began his legal career as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Virginia. He became a Project Exile attorney after the first year, focusing primarily on the prosecution of gun crimes.

Mr. Vann received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and his Juris Doctorate from William and Mary School of Law.

Locations, Dates and Fees

  • Add to Cart
Bundlediscounts  designationssidebar  Buy a 16-Credit Online Bundle and get two free books of your choice.  Calendar probonodiscount National Interest  Essentials Seminars