Image courtesy supremecourt.gov

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill of 1997 (actually passed in 1996, back when Congress was in the business of passing budgets) contained the much-despised Lautenberg Amendment. This rider made it a felony for a person to possess firearms if they had ever been convicted of even a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence involving physical force. James Alvin Castleman of Tennessee was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend under Tennessee law and SCOTUS has recently granted certiorari in his appeal. The Nine have agreed to review the Lautenberg Amendment as it applies to certain domestic violence misdemeanors. It’s about f–ing time; let’s just pray they get it right . . .

The Lautenberg Amendment has been roundly criticized as violating the 2nd Amendment and for being an ex post facto law. Hundreds of thousands of people have been convicted of DV misdemeanors, and those convicted before 1996 were never warned that their guilty plea for pouring a beer over their girlfriend’s (or brother’s, uncle’s or college roommate’s) head would deprive them of their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

The United States Supreme Court has heard many challenges to the Lautenberg Amendment, and has thus far turned them all down. This time the court will decide whether misdemeanor-level DV assaults automatically qualify for the federal gun ban.

At issue is the Lautenberg Amendment’s language which triggers the ban only for misdemeanor DV convictions involving “the use or attempted use of physical force.” Many state laws, including my own here in Washington State, do not actually require the use of physical force in order to be convicted of an assault.

Tennessee law only requires ‘bodily injury’ which could be as minimal as a bruise, paper cut, or stubbed toe. My state has one of the broadest misdemeanor assault statutes anywhere: it doesn’t require injury or physical force, merely a “harmful or offensive unwanted physical contact.” Spitting in someone’s direction, pouring a drink on them, or even knocking a sandwich out of their hand can be the basis for a DV assault conviction in this state.

If the Supremes do the right thing and narrow the application of the federal gun ban, it won’t mean an automatic restoration of gun rights for those convicted of only the most minor DV ‘assaults’ and other crimes. It will require years of litigation at the state level, and most likely court action by each disenfranchised person, before they’ll be able to get their heaters back.

And it won’t necessarily impact state-level DV gun bans either, unless the Supremes base their decision on the 2nd Amendment. But it will be the right start.

I hate to drive traffic to Mayor Mikey Bloomberg’s News, but here it is.

 

 

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39 Responses to SCOTUS To Review Parts Of 1996 Domestic Violence Gun Ban

  1. Wait, Congress wasn’t passing budgets very often back in the mid-90s either. I like the idea of a partial shutdown, gets rid of all the things that aren’t needed. Cut the fat off the meat.

    • I think passing the budget Item by Item is a good idea because it makes it harder to hid dumbass amendments like the Late Senator Lautenbooger was notorious for trying.

      • Or a constitutional amendment that allows for a line item veto. We had a law during the Clinton years but the SCOTUS overturned it

        • That would help in some cases. However, Clinton nor Barry would veto any Lautenberg or Feinstein Gun Ban type legislation.

        • Line item veto is BS, the Supreme Court did good shutting it down. It would effectively allow the president to write laws by getting rid of any concessions Congress negotiated to pass a law. We’ve already got enough of that crap with the Supreme’s writing laws with the Obamacare individual mandate and Obama not enforcing the laws on illegal immigrants and giving his cronies a pass.

        • It would effectively allow budget legislation to originate in the White House, which I’m glad SCOTUS noted was unconstitutional.

  2. We need to erase everything with Lautenberg’s name on it. His legacy must be that he doesn’t leave one…

    • we can narrow the federal deficit by charging $20 a head to stand in line, drink a complimentary beer (I like dogfish head since I went to school with the founder) and piss on his grave. wear yer boots.

    • My first thought is “Damn, you beat me to it!” but I cannot quite wish his name struck from every obelisk and temple wall.

      Going after drunk drivers, toxic waste dumpers, those who rape the consumer and those whose actions directly lead to the recent escapades on Wall Street are not wrong actions.

      He was wrong — horribly wrong — on quite a few things, but not everything.

  3. It seems that the sanest thing that The Nine could do is redefine “harmful or offensive unwanted physical contact” to one that has the intent (or in most reasonable cases, being capable) of causing pain or injury – be it bruising or more severe tissue injury.

    Anyone?

  4. Here is how this appears to liberal minded folk, “Gun nuts want to beat their wives an keep their guns”

    • They think that way because apparently liberal minded folk beat their spouse, significant others, children and their dogs.

  5. I’m not happy about SCOTUS taking this case, since the man convicted of the DV misdemeanor in question beat the Federal gun rap in the District Court and the Circuit Court. My concern is that SCOTUS will reverse. Why else would Kagan have granted certiorari?

    • Don’t be too quick to judge Kagan harshly. She may actually seek to support overturning the law. She is after all part of a group whose sexual preference is known for having the highest rating of DV abuse: the lesbian community with an estimated one in three couples engaging in DV behavior. It is possible that since Kagan likes to go shooting and I now believe hunting too she might simply be trying to protect her own interests from one day being taken away by the rules of the current law. No need to thank me Ralph. I’m always here to help out with my legal insights.

    • At least Kagan’s granting cert gives an overturning of the Lautenburg Am a chance. This is part of a larger discourse: I’m as interested in the opinion of the Federal District Court for Connecticut issued last week, and in its appellate future, Barletta v. Rilling (D. Conn. Sept. 26, 2013). The issue was whether a statute barring issuance of a trading license for anyone convicted of a felony, regardless of the nature of the offense, is constitutional under a rational basis scrutiny. The court said it isn’t, as such a blanket rule is overbroad without a rational tie to the legitimate goal of preventing entrance of those likely to be dishonest metals traders. Since we have intermediate scrutiny on RKBA, upholding this ruling could finally limit the gun prohibition on those with, e.g., EPA or IRC felony convictions. http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7101313352198554418.

  6. More important question: when are the courts going to strike down the provision of restraining order laws that forbid ownership/possession of firearms? An angry ex simply claims that the other partner threatened them and, poof!!! no more firearms. No trial, no evidence, no testimony from multiple witnesses … just a single uncorroborated accusation. In one fell swoop, the government pi$$es on our Fourth Amendment right to due process and our Second Amendment right to bear arms.

    I had a friendly debate with a family member who insisted that we have to keep those provisions because we cannot take any chances. Being a retired superintendent of a school district, his response should not have surprised me.

  7. I think the bar for committing a crime, whereby you lose your gun rights, in this country is way too low.

      • Personally, unless the person has been convicted of violently and maliciously killing or attempting to cause great bodily harm then I think they should be being able to own weapons.

      • If the crime wasn’t bad enough for them to go to jail for a long length of time then it shouldn’t be bad enough for them to loss their rights for the rest of their lives.

        In some states punching a full grown man for making rude comments to your wife is enough to loss your gun rights forever because it can be classified as felonious assault.

      • If you are walking the streets you have all your rights, if you are in jail you loose them while in jail. if we as a society deems that you get to be released from prison then there’s no reason what so ever you should not have your rights returned.

      • Anti freedom people want to make everyone a criminal or mental ill so they impose their will on them.

        Making everyone a criminal for any little thing is back door gun control.

        There are around 4500 felonious crimes or acts in the country, that absurd if you ask me.

  8. The whole concept of a misdemeanor at the state level creating a felony at the Federal level is completely retarded and even more so on something unrelated.

  9. That’s a federal gun law put in place that violates the second amendment rights. The four founding fathers says no government can override right to bear arms. It’s a right and not a privilege. Congress, legislators and Libby’s are responsible with infringing and violating your civil rights. Trump, AG and new team of pro gun will make 2A Great Again and pound the Feds for scrutiny of the peoples civil rights. Do your research and use various keywords to dig up the new changes coming soon in 2017. Second amendment will be restored with anti federal gun ban laws. I’ve found everything I’ve mention above online. http://www.nysun.com/editorials/2nd-amendment-mandate/89814/

  10. I’ve been following closely with Trumps second amendment news and he is correct about the federal government and Anti-gun congress stripping every civil right from us “The People” the last 20 years. Trump and others says you cannot put any federal gun ban law bill on an existing constitutional right such as 2A. It’s unconstitutional and it infringes on your civil rights. It sounds to me Mr. Sessions and DOJ I think will legally hold the Feds and all the anti gun laws accountable for creating a bill that violates civil rights. This is nuts how much of these crooked liberals can just strip your civil rights and not understand the damage of millions of people to protect them and there family. The liberals want to disarm the good guys and let the bad guys kill us with no self protection. Really? I’ve read the lautenberg Brady bill combo federal gun ban for life automatically bans a person after 10 years of being a good person and has passed from the date of incident. That’s a sneaky approach and not constitutional at all. I’m sure our new President will veto/overturned and rights restored. If it weren’t in place after 10 years of being good and law abiding, then you have your civil rights restored and therfore allows you to bear arms like you should. That’s how America was once before. I believe in Trump and he will make America great again. God bless.

  11. I’ve been following closely with Trumps second amendment news and he is correct about the federal government and Anti-gun congress stripping every civil right from us “The People” the last 20 years. Trump and others says you cannot put any federal gun ban law bill on an existing constitutional right such as 2A. It’s unconstitutional and it infringes on your civil rights. It sounds to me Mr. Sessions and DOJ I think will legally hold the Feds and all the anti gun laws accountable for creating a bill that violates civil rights. This is nuts how much of these crooked liberals can just strip your civil rights and not understand the damage of millions of people to protect them and there family. The liberals want to disarm the good guys and let the bad guys kill us with no self protection. Really? I’ve read the lautenberg Brady bill combo federal gun ban for life automatically bans a person after 10 years of being a good person and has passed from the date of incident. That’s a sneaky approach and not constitutional at all. I’m sure our new President will veto/overturned and rights restored. If it weren’t in place after 10 years of being good and law abiding, then you have your civil rights restored and therfore allows you to bear arms like you should. That’s how America was once before. I believe in Trump and he will make America great again. January 20, 2017 the big day. Follow up at the NRA site for news on the 2A. God bless.

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