Supreme Court Rules Domestic Abusers Can Be Barred from Gun Ownership

06.29.16

In a 6-2 vote this week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law that bars those with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from owning firearms. This decision is being applauded by victim advocacy groups who lobbied to keep this restriction in place.

In the majority opinion, Justice Elena Kagan, wrote that the purpose of the law written 20 years ago was to "prohibit domestic abusers convicted under run-of-the-mill misdemeanor assault and battery laws from possessing guns."

The case involved two men from Maine who were separately convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors and then later convicted of possessing firearms. One man had struck his girlfriend while he was intoxicated and the other had assaulted his wife. A few years later, they were found possessing guns and convicted of breaking the federal law prohibiting gun possession for those convicted of these types of crimes.

"We are very, very pleased," Ruth Glenn, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence told media outlets. "Any time there's any act of domestic violence, it's imperative we address it by removing firearms."

Comment: In Pennsylvania victims of domestic violence often file a criminal charge along with the civil protection order. Under the civil protection order the accused is not permitted to own or possess a gun during the pending protection order, but once the order expires there is nothing to prevent the accused from possessing or owning a gun. Many victims live in fear well after the protection order has expired. The Supreme Court's decision will now provide another level of security and protection in cases where the gun owner has also been convicted of domestic violence. 

Media Contacts

Jennifer R. Williams 
215.972.7917
jwilliams@wglaw.com

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