Supreme Court Upholds Gun Ban for People Convicted of Minor Domestic Violence
On March 26th the U.S. Supreme Court upheld federal laws barring gun possession by people convicted of minor domestic violence.
According to the Associated Press, this applies "even in states where no proof of physical violence is required to support the domestic violence charge."
The case brought before the court involved James Castleman, "who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence against the mother of his child in 2001 in Tennessee." He was charged with illegal possession of a gun in 2009 – the charge was tied to his earlier misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. Federal law "bars a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence involving the use of physical force or a deadly weapon from possessing a gun."
However, a federal judge threw out the gun charges because "Tennessee law doesn't specify that physical force must have been an element of the offense." The dismissal of the charges was upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
On March 26th the Supreme Court reversed the 6th Circuit's decision on the grounds that Castleman "pleaded guilty to having 'intentionally or knowingly caused bodily injury to'" the mother of his child in 2001.
Associate Justice Sonya Sotomayor wrote, "Because Castleman's indictment makes clear that physical force was an element of his conviction, that conviction qualifies as a 'misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,'" and that bars Castleman from possession of a firearm.
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