Santa Rosa defense attorney Chris Andrian's unique perspective on gun violence

  • Attorney Chris Andrian has a unique perspective on gun violence. Andrian was shot by a client's estranged husband in 1989, and has defended shooters in court. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Each time Chris Andrian hears about a new act of gun violence, memories of his own terrifying experience of being shot outside a Sonoma County courthouse come ricocheting back to him.

The well-known Santa Rosa attorney, who was struck in the arm by a bullet from an angry husband in a family law case, went on to defend many people accused of gun crimes, including a woman who shot her spouse.

But his brush with death helped shape his opinion about gun ownership as the nation reels from a string of mass shootings.

Andrian said guns aren't necessarily the problem, although he says they are too easy to get. And he doesn't see why people need assault weapons like the one he was shot with.

He believes better screening of gun buyers along with stepped-up mental health services could go a long way toward reducing the number of deadly incidents.

"I have mixed feelings," said Andrian, who still has the scars from the shooting 23 years ago. "A lot of what the pro-gun people say is true. We need to do a better job of getting guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them."

He has vivid memories of the day he was shot outside the old civil court building on Cleveland Avenue.

It was Sept. 29, 1989, and Andrian had just emerged from a hearing with client Lee Ann Pommier. Her ex-husband, Scott Pommier, had tried unsuccessfully for a reduction in alimony and child support payments.

Andrian got into his car and was backing out when he heard a loud noise and thought he'd run into someone.

It turned out that Scott Pommier was opening fire on Andrian's car with an AR-15 rifle after shooting Lee Ann Pommier, leaving her seriously wounded.

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