Supreme Court: No Guns for Abusers

Feb 27, 2009

In the first decision concerning gun rights since the ruling last year that struck down Washington, DC’s ban on handguns, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on gun possession by people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors.

In the seven to two ruling, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, “Firearms and domestic strife are a potentially deadly combination nationwide,” ruling that domestic abusers convicted under general battery laws can be banned from carrying guns if there is a proven domestic relationship between the victim and the offender.

United States v. Hayes addressed the question of whether gun ownership should be barred for someone convicted under a general assault and battery law, or whether Congress intended the ban to apply only to those convicted under laws specifically barring domestic violence. Fewer than half the states specifically name domestic violence in their assault and battery laws, so many more convicted batterers would have been allowed to have guns if the Court had ruled the other way, the Washington Post reports.

The 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,” Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence President Paul Helmke said.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia dissented.

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