People guilty of domestic violence misdemeanors should not be allowed to possess guns
That decision was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The high court was trying to decide whether someone convicted of simple battery, a misdemeanor, should be blocked from gun possession, just as is someone convicted of domestic violence. A domestic violence gun ban was enacted in 1996.
Many state laws against battery do not mention domestic violence, but the argument is that simple battery may be committed against a spouse, child, or relative.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed with the government’s decision that battery, a misdemeanor, should apply to domestic relationships, even if the person was not convicted of that offense. She wrote the 7-2 decision.
The case was brought to the high court by lawyers for batterer, Randy Edward Hayes. In 1993, he pled guilty to slapping his then-wife, a misdemeanor battery charge.
A decade later, police responded to a domestic assault again involving Hayes, who this time was alleged to have struck his girlfriend. Police found an unloaded rifle under his bed.
He was later charged with lying about the gun and domestic battery. Because the domestic battery charge was eventually dropped, Hayes’ lawyers argued that he couldn’t be convicted of possessing a weapon because there was no domestic battery element.
In their dissenting vote, Justices Roberts and Scalia found the federal law was ambiguous because gun and domestic violence laws vary from state to state. Many states prosecute domestic violence as simple assault and battery, which would allow gun ownership. A felony conviction automatically triggers a gun ownership ban.
The Court essentially reversed a decision that favored Hayes in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that, which had it not been overturned, would have allowed convicted spouse abusers in about two dozen states to rearm themselves.
"In its first gun case since the landmark Heller decision, the Court wisely upheld this reasonable restriction," said Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence President Paul Helmke. "Today’s ruling is the right one for victims of domestic abuse and to protect law enforcement officers who are our first responders to domestic violence incidents."
Eagle Forum spokesperson Phyllis Schlafly spoke to CNN defending Hayes saying, "Why are men with clean histories except for one domestic dispute punished like hardened criminals who mug strangers on the street?" wrote Phyllis Schlafly. She wrote a brief in support of Hayes and continues, "The answer is that the feminist agenda calls for domestic-violence laws to punish husbands and fathers above and beyond what can be proven in court under due-process procedures."
Meanwhile, in San Diego County, 5,000 officers will receive additional training in domestic violence response in case there is an escalation as a result of the downturn in the economy.