DOMESTIC ABUSERS: Take Their Fight to Own Guns to Supreme Court

smoking gunThis raises a serious question in the legal world. Should someone, who was convicted of domestic abuse, no matter the case, be allowed to ever own a gun again? Read the article. Give us your thoughts.

In 2009, an anonymous tipster contacted authorities with a hunch: A bald eagle had been shot and killed, and they knew who did it.

A Maine man, Stephen Voisine, was arrested for the crime. He turned over his rifle to police. As it turned out, he was not legally allowed to own guns. Six years earlier, he’d been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor against his girlfriend after she called police and said he’d slapped her — and not for the first time. Two years later, he was convicted of assaulting her again.

Under a federal law called the Lautenberg Amendment, if you’ve been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, you can’t own or buy a gun. If you’re caught with one, as Voisine was, you can face up to 10 years behind bars. In 2011, Voisine was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

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On Monday, he and another Maine man with a similar story are taking their case to the Supreme Court. Lawyers for the two men are arguing that their convictions for violating the amendment should be reversed — because they never should have lost their gun rights to begin with.

Both men were convicted of domestic violence under Maine statutes that include “reckless” conduct. Their lawyers argue that the men acted in the heat of the moment and their impulsive, reckless acts of domestic violence are not serious enough to qualify under the federal gun ban.

In essence, as The Trace explains, they’re arguing for a hierarchy of domestic violence offenses. In their estimation, not all domestic violence convictions should result in a gun ban. Instead, they say, only intentional, purposeful acts of violence should trigger the loss of gun rights under federal law.

The question put to the court boils down to this: Does it matter what mental state you are in when you commit domestic violence? Under the law, if you commit such a crime recklessly, as opposed to knowingly or intentionally, should you still forfeit your right to buy or possess guns?

Why should I care about this case?

If the court sides with the two men, it’s possible that only some types of domestic violence convictions would result in abusers losing their gun rights.

That would be a dangerous scenario, according to the many anti-violence organizations that filed friend-of-the-court briefs. Research shows that if an abuser has access to a gun, victims are five times more likely to be killed. A recent Associated Press analysis found that an average of 760 Americans were killed with guns annually by intimate partners, though that is likely an undercount. More than 80 percent of the victims were women.

Read more: Huffington Post


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