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Most people don’t realize it, but if you get convicted of the misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, you can’t own a gun.

Nobody condones domestic violence. A person should be safe in a relationship, as there are already enough vulnerabilities without having to worry about being hit by a partner. The problem is what is defined as a spat and what is truly “domestic violence.”

The domestic violence laws were meant to protect people from truly heinous individuals, like the small percentage of domestic violence cases that end in real harm. Cases where the man shoots the woman publicly six times, or the woman runs over the philandering husband. It was not meant for the “brush by,” or light touch, for example what Lewandowsky did to that reporter.

Take the wife who finds her husband cheating, and pounds his chest or even slaps him in pain. That’s domestic violence, and guess what: she now can never own a gun.

As reported in the Atlantic, this is the loophole that the Fed is using to usurp the rights of Americans to own a firearm. Justice Clarence Thomas questioned this, signaling that the SCOTUS may take this case up again.

Though the vigilant marshals keep a tight lid on noise, it’s safe to say that not since Clarence Darrow for the defense called prosecutor William Jennings Bryan himself to the stand has an American courtroom been so startled. Thomas has not asked a question in court since February 22, 2006. His silence has been the subject of speculation, ridicule, and indignant denunciation. (Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker two years ago called it “disgraceful.”) Others, including me, had thought it instead a sad loss for the Court. But it’s safe to say that nobody expected Voisine v. United States to be the case that would break the streak.Yet here Thomas was, and his question was far from random. That’s because under the surface of the case lies the issue of guns. When the defendants first petitioned the Court for review, they had posed as a question for the Court whether the federal gun-possession statutes are “unconstitutional under the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments and the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution.”

When the Court granted review last October, however, its terse order had explicitly rejected that question, limiting argument to the issue of whether a “reckless” act of domestic violence could qualify as a trigger for the statute.

The courtroom was about to learn that Clarence Thomas wasn’t so sure about that limitation. He now asked Eisenstein, “Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor suspends a constitutional right?”

Eisenstein, as gobsmacked as anyone else, made somewhat incoherent noises until Thomas elaborated. “You’re saying that recklessness is sufficient to trigger a violation— misdemeanor violation of domestic conduct that results in a lifetime ban on possession of a gun, which, at least as of now, is still a constitutional right. . . . Can you think of another constitutional right that can be suspended based upon a misdemeanor violation of a state law?”

This is a law that is slowly eroding the 2nd Amendment rights of people who are not violent, and may have acted as I described earlier. Sure, put truly violent domestic violence people in jail if there is a felony. But for misdemeanor disagreements, I don’t believe removing gun ownership is the answer.

 



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