January 10, 2018

Action Alert:
Tell Your Senators to Vote No on Howard Nielson, Jr.

Update: On May 22, 2019, the U.S. Senate confirmed Howard Nielson, Jr. to serve as a federal judge in Utah. The vote was party-line (51-47) with only Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine joining Democrats against Nielson.

In 2017, we successfully campaigned against Brett Talley, an unqualified and dangerous nominee for federal district court with extreme views on the gun issue.

Now the Trump administration has put forward another pro-gun extremist to serve on the federal bench. Frequent NRA lawyer Howard C. Nielson, Jr.  has been nominated for a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Utah. His nomination will first be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. If approved, it will go to the Senate floor for a vote.

Nielson has long served as an attorney for the NRA, the Illinois State Rifle Association, and other gun lobby groups. In this role, he has advocated for a series of absolutist positions on guns. For example, Nielson has argued that:

  • Americans who oppose changing the law to allow 18-20 year-olds to buy handguns from federally licensed firearm dealers are engaging in “massive resistance” comparable to the efforts of racist state officials who resisted desegregation after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.
  • Illinois’ democratically-enacted law banning assault weapons is a violation of the Second Amendment and must be overturned because semiautomatic rifles like the AR-15 and AK-47 are now in “common use.” Nielson added that these assault weapons are “less dangerous” than other firearms and effective for home defense.

Please call your two U.S. Senators through the U.S. Capitol Hotline at (202) 224-3121 and give them the following message:

Please vote NO on the nomination of William C. Nielson, Jr. to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah should the nomination come before your committee, or to the floor of the full Senate, for a vote. Nielson is a paid NRA attorney with absolutist views on guns. I am particularly disturbed that he compared Americans who believe that 18-20 year-olds should not be able to purchase handguns with racists who opposed desegregation following the Brown v. Board decision. Nielson’s claim that semiautomatic rifles like the AR-15 and AK-47 are “less dangerous” than other firearms is also an outrage that should anger anyone following the mass carnage we have seen inflicted by lone gunmen in Las Vegas, Orlando, Newtown, etc. Finally, he has exhibited little, if any, empathy for victims and survivors of gun violence in this country. Nielson’s nomination is dangerous and a threat to public safety. It must be opposed. I will be watching your actions on this nomination very closely.

If you don’t know who your two Senators are, or want their direct-dial numbers, click here:


Once you have contacted your Senators, click the orange banner above to report taking action!

[A special thanks to the Giffords Law Center and Alliance for Justice for sounding the alarm about this nomination!]

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