Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
High court bolsters domestic violence gun ban law
First Published Mar 26 2014 01:33 pm • Last Updated Mar 26 2014 01:33 pm

Washington • People convicted of minor domestic violence offenses can be barred from possessing guns even in states where no proof of physical violence is required to support the domestic violence charge, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The ruling was a victory for the Obama administration, gun control groups and advocates for victims of domestic abusers who say the gun ban is critical in preventing the escalation of domestic violence.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The justices unanimously rejected the argument put forth by gun rights groups and a Tennessee man who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault against the mother of his child in 2001. The man, James Castleman, was then charged in 2009 with illegal possession of a firearm after he and his wife were accused of buying guns and selling them on the black market.

Federal law bars a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence involving the use of physical force or a deadly weapon from possessing a firearm. But Castleman said he should not have to face the gun charges because the Tennessee law doesn’t specify that his domestic violence crime had to include physical force.

A federal judge agreed with Castleman and dismissed the charges because, he said, the victim could theoretically have been poisoned or tricked into injuring herself, which wouldn’t technically count as physical force. The dismissal was upheld, on different grounds, by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

The Supreme Court reversed the appeals court and reinstated the charges against Castleman, in an opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Writing for the court, Sotomayor said it was enough that Castleman pleaded guilty to having "intentionally or knowingly caused bodily injury to" the mother of his child.

"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,’" Sotomayor said.

The Obama administration had argued that the lower court decisions would effectively nullify the gun ban in dozens of states where misdemeanor domestic violence laws don’t specify the degree of force needed for conviction. That would frustrate the intent of Congress, the administration argued, which was to keep firearms away from anyone found guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, praised Wednesday’s ruling.

The case is U.S. v. Castleman, 12-1371.


story continues below
story continues below



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.