Justices Uphold Ban On Guns for Abusers
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Thread: Justices Uphold Ban On Guns for Abusers

  1. #1

    Justices Uphold Ban On Guns for Abusers

    The Supreme Court yesterday affirmed federal efforts to bar those convicted of crimes involving domestic violence from owning guns.
    It was the court's first decision concerning gun rights since last year's landmark decision recognizing an individual's Second Amendment right to own a firearm. But the 7 to 2 decision authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg contained nary a word about Heller v. District of Columbia, which struck down Washington's ban on handguns.

    Instead, justices wrangled over language and whether Congress's decision to ban firearms to those convicted of "a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" extended to someone convicted of a generic charge of battery, so long as there was a proven domestic relationship between the offender and the victim.

    Ginsburg said Congress might have been inartful in drafting the 1996 law, but its intentions and underlying concerns were clear: "Firearms and domestic strife are a potentially deadly combination nationwide."

    Ginsburg was citing the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in that passage, and its president, Paul Helmke, said 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."

    Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who sponsored the 1996 amendment to the federal Gun Control Act, said it had kept 150,000 domestic abusers nationwide from obtaining guns.

    The question was whether gun ownership was barred because someone had been convicted of a generic law against the use of force, or whether the law in question must specifically have as an element that the victim was in a domestic relationship with the aggressor.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said it was the latter. It threw out the conviction of Randy Edward Hayes, who had been convicted of battery on his then-wife in 1994. Ten years later, police responding to a domestic violence call about Hayes and his girlfriend found firearms in the home and indicted Hayes.

    Hayes said that the 1994 battery conviction did not trigger the federal ban on firearms, because it was not specifically on the charge of domestic violence.

    But nine other circuits around the country had read the law the other way, and Ginsburg said they were right. Fewer than half the states have laws that specifically denominate domestic violence as an element of a crime.
    Excluding domestic abusers convicted under generic battery laws "would frustrate Congress's manifest purpose," Ginsburg said in announcing her decision from the bench. Congress would not have enacted something that "would have been a dead letter in the majority of states from the very moment of its passage."

    But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, said that the law's ambiguous wording makes it a "textbook case for application of the rule of lenity" and that the case should be decided in Hayes's favor.
    "Ten years in jail is too much to hinge on the will-o'-the-wisp of statutory meaning pursued by the majority," Roberts complained. Like Ginsburg, he did not mention the Heller ruling in his dissent.

    The case is United States v. Hayes.

    In a separate decision, the justices said a state may order cities, counties and school districts to forbid payroll deductions for a union's political activities, something unions had challenged as a violation of their First Amendment rights.

    "The First Amendment prohibits government from 'abridging the freedom of speech; it does not confer an affirmative right to use government payroll mechanisms for the purpose of obtaining funds for expression," wrote Roberts, who was joined by Scalia, Ginsburg and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

    Justices John Paul Stevens and David H. Souter dissented in the case from Idaho. Souter wrote that he thought the state's "legislative objective was not efficient, clean government, but that unions' political viewpoints were its target, selected out of all the politics the state might filter from its public workplaces."

    Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he would have sent Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association back to lower courts for more fact-finding.[/quote]
    Last edited by lukem; 02-25-2009 at 08:13 AM.
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  3. #2
    A 24 page PDF file is available at the US Supreme Court site for US vs Hayes syllabus.

    http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/08pdf/07-608.pdf


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  4. #3
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    I don't see why anyone would want to allow someone CONVICTED of battery to carry a gun.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Pele View Post
    I don't see why anyone would want to allow someone CONVICTED of battery to carry a gun.
    I completely agree. The key word though is CONVICTED, not simply accused. There are many instances where arguments result in a restraining order. This done, possibly, to bolster their position in the event of a divorce. No truly violent felon should be allowed to possess a firearm.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronwill View Post
    I completely agree. The key word though is CONVICTED, not simply accused. There are many instances where arguments result in a restraining order. This done, possibly, to bolster their position in the event of a divorce. No truly violent felon should be allowed to possess a firearm.
    That reminds me... here in St. Clair county AL, a couple of the questions on the pistol permit application asks if you have a current restraining order against you, tresspass warning, etc... Doesn't say whether you will be denied if in you do or not. One way or the other, it is completely up to the Sheriff of the county you live in.

  7. #6
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    I know of a case here in PRHI where a man was arrested, charged and eventually convicted of "abuse of a household member". It sounds a lot worse than it really is. What happened is that he came home one day and found his 16 year old son smoking what appeared to be a marijuana laced with a white powdery substance. While attempting to take the drugs from his son, a physical altercation occurred. The boy got a couple of smacks in as did the father. Both of them had no cuts, bruises, broken bones, injuries, etc. Being the good "dad" that he was, he flushed the stuff and told his son to get cleaned up.

    The father went downstairs to prepare dinner. While he was cooking dinner, a couple of police blue and whites arrived. Apparently, the son had called 911 to report that his father "beat him". The responding officers arrested the man. They didn't bother to check out the son despite his obvious signs of being "high". The son ended up living with his grandparents and the father spent the night in jail.

    After a 2 month trial, the father was convicted of "abuse of a household member". This was despite of the fact that the son admitted to being "high" on drugs and causing the altercation. The conviction resulted in the father losing his job as a state employee (he was an administrator in the public school system). The conviction also resulted in him having to surrender all of his firearms due to the "Lautenberg Amendment".

    I understand the need to disarm "convicted violent offenders". This case demonstrates the need for some leeway in the justice system. I don't think justice was served in this case.


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    "A few well placed shots with a .22LR is a lot better than a bunch of solid misses with a .44 mag!" Glock Armorer, NRA Chief RSO, Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Muzzleloading Rifle, Muzzleloading Shotgun, and Home Firearm Safety Training Counselor

  8. #7
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    Exclamation Dangerous waters ahead......

    I think that the danger here is that battery and domestic violence are very easy to convict, thus removing someones second amendment right for life.

    For example, say you are all of 18 or 19 years old, you are at a party, you've had a few beers, and you get in a tussle. No one is hurt, no one wants to press charges, but the responding officer doesn't like "your kind" for whatever reason. Should that instance of "battery" prevent you from exercising your right to self defense, and the defense of an eventual family?

    How about this: You find out that your wife has been sleeping with your brother/neighbor/pool boy. You find out about it. Although you feel like murdering someone, you calmly tell her to pack a bag and get out. You inform her that you will be divorcing her post-haste, and will be suing for custody of the children. She leaves with no argument. An hour later you find the police at your doorstep. Your wife is there to identify you as her attacker, and she has has bruises and abrasions that support her story. She divorces you, she gets the house, the money, and full custody of the children. To add insult to injury, she retains ownership of your firearm collection, which she promptly sells because you no longer have a second amendment right.

    I believe that we should stick with a rule for felonious assault, which is harder to prove, when we are talking about the permanent revocation of constitutional rights of citizenship.

    Just my .02!
    "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." Thomas Jefferson

  9. #8
    I think it CAN be a good thing.... that being said, any type of law that is 100% is going to catch some good people in it as well as the bad. I have a friend who is a registered sex offender. It has completely screwed up his life. Now, the woman he was dating when he was younger.... well it was her parents that filed the charges. (The age difference was for a total of 2 months). They have now been married for 12 years, have wonderful 7 year old daughter and 2 year old twin boys.
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  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Oram Security Consultants View Post
    I think it CAN be a good thing.... that being said, any type of law that is 100% is going to catch some good people in it as well as the bad. I have a friend who is a registered sex offender. It has completely screwed up his life. Now, the woman he was dating when he was younger.... well it was her parents that filed the charges. (The age difference was for a total of 2 months). They have now been married for 12 years, have wonderful 7 year old daughter and 2 year old twin boys.
    I think that's exactly why some states have modified their law to add an age difference. In many cases the age must be at least 3 years different. As an example a 16 year old female has a 19 year old boy friend, this would not be a prosecutable offense under the law. Maybe a good thing but most definitely an understandable law.

  11. #10
    wolfhunter Guest
    Let's say a guest in your house starts arguing with you. You tell them to leave. They refuse, so you grab an arm and evict them from your house. This person is not a relative, and not a resident in your home. They press charges against you. You are convicted. You now have a record for non-domestic misdemeanor battery. Do you lose your 2A rights because you threw an unwanted person out of your house?

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