Supreme Court Upholds Limiting Guns for Domestic Infractions
In a case touching on one of the most prominent issues on the minds of Americans, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to loosen federal restrictions that prevent people with [misdemeanor] domestic assault convictions from owning guns.
The 6-2 ruling Monday was a victory for gun control advocates who have increased their efforts following this month’s mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The case dealt with two men who hit their partners and were found guilty of misdemeanor domestic assaults in the state of Maine.
A federal law makes it illegal for anyone with that type of conviction from possessing a gun.
But the men argued they were not subject to the ban since they hit their partners in the heat of the moment, as a so-called “reckless” act, rather than as intentional, planned behavior.
The court rejected those claims, saying Congress’ definition of “misdemeanor crime of violence” contains no exclusion for convictions based on reckless behavior…
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas focused on language within the federal law that defines misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence as involving the “use of force” against the victim.
According to Thomas, a “use” of force is “an inherently intentional act — that is, an act done for the purpose of causing certain consequences or at least with knowledge that those consequences will ensue.”
Thomas, who was unusually outspoken during oral arguments in the case, also questioned whether misdemeanor violations should mean someone is stripped of their constitutional right to own a gun.
“We treat no other constitutional right so cavalierly,” said Justice Thomas.
Gun Owners of America Executive Director Erich Pratt told Voice of America that:
Violent abusers should be in jail for felony abuse. But this federal law punishes misdemeanors, and hence, is way too broad. It disarms women who have had shouting matches with their husbands, parents who have spanked their children in public, and in at least one case, an adult daughter who threw a set of keys at her mother. A principle in law is that the punishment must fit the crime. Sadly, permanently disarming Americans for slight infractions that impose no jail time is simply not just.
Ed. Note: Mother Jones reported today that GOA’s amicus brief prompted Justice Thomas to formulate a Second Amendment-related question in this case back in February, thus breaking a ten year silence during oral arguments on the Court. Moreover, Mother Jones reported that Thomas’ question “prompted liberal Justice Stephen Breyer to chime in that his colleague might, in fact, have a point.” Source: GOA