Arizona residents who have previous domestic violence convictions are federally prohibited from owning or possessing guns. Under the Lautenberg Amendment, even those with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions may face up to 10 years in federal prison if they are caught in possession of a gun.
Two men from Maine are arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court that those with misdemeanor convictions should be able to restore their rights to gun ownership. In one of the men’s cases, he was reported for shooting a bald eagle in 2011. When police found him, he was in possession of a gun and was charged under the federal law because he had been convicted of two prior misdemeanor domestic assault incidents involving the same girlfriend.
Both that man and the other were convicted of acting recklessly. They are arguing that their prior convictions did not constitute behavior dangerous enough for them to permanently lose their rights to gun ownership. If the court rules for the men, only people with certain types of prior domestic violence convictions would be prohibited from owning guns, a move that many domestic violence organizations argue would be dangerous. The lawyers for the men are arguing the prohibition should only apply when the conduct was intentional rather than reckless.
Domestic violence is a huge issue across the nation. Gun prohibitions are in place to protect victims from their abusers. Family law attorneys and activists around the nation are watching this case closely. People who are the victims of domestic violence should take steps to leave the situation. They may want to contact law enforcement and enter domestic violence shelters. They may also want to get the help of a family law attorney in order to seek a protective order to help prevent the abuser from contacting or coming near them.