United States Supreme Court Hears Case on Gun Rights for Domestic Violence Abusers
Monday, November 17, 2008 12:27 PM

An article published on the Women’s E-News website details a case before the United States Supreme Court that could have profound implications for victims of domestic violence. 

The federal Gun Control Law of 1968 is at the center of the case.  This law prohibited convicted felons from possessing firearms.  A 1996 amendment expanded the ban to include people convicted of “misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.”  In 2007, a Virginia case raised questions concerning the interpretation of the amendment.  It was argued that the wording of the 1996 amendment suggested that the gun control ban does not apply to people convicted of battery or assault—only those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.  The article points out that the Virginia court raised questions about whether the amendment “could be read to apply to batterers across the country or just those in states with laws that specifically designate domestic violence.” This interpretation would allow people convicted of assault and battery to regain their rights to guns. 

The article notes that if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the opinion of the Virginia court it will have serious implications for law enforcement officers and victims of domestic violence. According to Legal Momentum, a New York-based women’s advocacy group, “[d]omestic violence abusers are 12 times more likely to kill their victims if they have a gun”.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on 10 November 2008, but it estimated that a decision will not be reached until June 2009.

To read the full article, click here.

Compiled from: Stevens, Allison, “High Court Hears Gun Rights for Batterers Case”, Women’s E-News, 11 November 2008.