Supreme Court Declines to Ease Gun Access for Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Offenders


In a victory for public safety, SCOTUS refused loosen restrictions that stop people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning a gun.

The court, in a 6-2 ruling, was unpersuaded by arguments from two Maine men who said their past convictions weren’t the type that should subject them to a federal ban on firearm possession.

One of the men found himself in hot water for shooting a bald eagle. When authorities later discovered a past domestic violence conviction, they added a new charge that he possessed a firearm in violation of a federal ban on gun ownership by domestic abusers.

A second defendant with previous domestic violence offenses was charged with illegal gun possession after police officers found guns at his house while executing a search for marijuana.

The men argued that prior domestic abuse convictions shouldn’t trigger the gun ban if those prior offenses potentially involved only reckless behavior and not intentionally violent conduct.


Very interesting to see the court rule this way on this issue. I figured for sure they’d at least split on it but in the end the saw the wisdom of keeping firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers as Congress intended when that law was passed. Just wish today’s Congress could find a way to keep them out of the hands of would be terrorists and the mentally unstable.


I’m pro-2nd-amendment, but I think this is probably not a bad decision. I haven’t any stats to back this up, but I don’t believe that incidents of domestic violence are isolated occurrences. Another factor that must be borne in mind is that “misdemeanors” are frequently pled down from felony seriousness in order to save the expense of going to a trial.


“Reckless” behavior can include a lot of things. Generally, it means behavior that is undertaken in disregard of the safety of another. So, for example, not having the right kind of car seat for a kid can get one charged with “reckless endangerment” of a child. There’s no particular connection with whether a person is safe with a gun or not.

In my state, it has long been the rule that a person who is convicted of domestic abuse can’t have a firearm. Makes sense. But “reckless” behavior? This is an anti-gun busybody’s dream.


Actually Reckless as a legal term is pretty clearly defined.

Recklessness means the person knew (or should have known) that his or her action were likely to cause harm.

In the context of domestic abuse you’d have to be convicted of something that beyond a reasonable doubt met that definition. That seems a very fair thing to limit these people’s access to weapons that are used in many domestic abuse situations that turn deadly, recklessly or intentionally. Remember we’re not talking negligence here, reckless is a much higher legal standard.


That’s a very good point (about misdemeanor convictions frequently being a result of plea-bargains from felony charges). And that’s not even beginning to get into how many incidents of domestic violence may have occurred before the first arrest.

In the case of these particular individuals, there were multiple DV convictions, and for one of them involved such “reckless” acts as repeatedly slapping someone until that person falls to the floor.


The mindset of too many pro-2nd amendment folks seems to be that the lives of even dozens of innocent people does not matter as much as even an inkling of gun control, which they view as restricting their own rights.


I believe that the Supreme Court made the right decision in this case.


I’m glad that people are agreeing on reasonable gun restrictions.


Hmmmm. What’s the distinction between being convicted of a misdemeanor and a felony? It used to be that felons couldn’t own firearms. We now see that that has been extended to more than that. I’d have to give that more thought as to whether I agree with this ruling.


You could say that. But it is inflammatory. You could say the same about the US legal system as a whole. The entire system is built on this principle. It is built on the principle it is better to let the guilty go free then to imprison the innocent. So we could do away with jury trials, warrant requirements, right against self incrimination or any other cherished legal right in the name of caring about the lives of innocent people.


True, if you read about domestic violence in the USA it really is quite astonishing and full of assault, rape, homicide etc. And the further back you go the higher the statistics are. Its calmed down because of better policing, understanding and court awareness and sentencing imho.

I don’t know the background of the Maine men or Supreme court how this whole story went or that distinction, or what in the world someone would be doing shooting eagles, let alone the domestic violence primary issue, but I think they just blew their 2nd amendment rights. imho. That in itself is a story, taking guns from enlisted people also and possible combat vets in such a situation. I don’t know all the facts of yet. Another one of those gun control issues imho.


Well, it’s already a felony to kill eagles - even to destroy their eggs.

The bald eagle will continue to be protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act even though it has been delisted under the Endangered Species Act. This law, originally passed in 1940, provides for the protection of the bald eagle and the golden eagle (as amended in 1962) by prohibiting the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit Bald Eagle sitting in tree (16 U.S.C. 668(a); 50 CFR 22). “Take” includes pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb (16 U.S.C. 668c; 50 CFR 22.3). The 1972 amendments increased civil penalties for violating provisions of the Act to a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment with $10,000 or not more than two years in prison for a second conviction. Felony convictions carry a maximum fine of $250,000 or two years of imprisonment. The fine doubles for an organization. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction for violation of the Act.

I’m presuming the person who killed the eagle in this story was convicted of a misdemeanor (presumably because the killing was determined to be unintentional or not willful or through ignorance that was not gross negligence).


How many people in favor of restoring voting rights to felons are in favor of restoring gun ownership rights to felons and those guilty of misdemeanors for domestic violence?


Speaking for myself, I do not favor restoring gun ownership rights to violent felons or to those guilty of domestic violence, whether felonious or pleaded down to misdemeanor. The key terms in that statement are “violent” and “violence.”


See, I’m clueless with that. I don’t know why we would give anyone back gun rights once taken unless it was illegal.


What about voting rights? Should felons have their voting rights restored?


Well, yes is the quick hard fast answer and they do in many cases, but it depends how one views rehabilitation opposed to punishment. In america we seem to believe people are rehabilitated when really we are simply punishing people. In short its complex and as I was saying this depends on release, aftercare and mental health eval. If your asking are there successful cases for sure there are. The failures are a symptom of massive numbers of population and ex offenders and thus a stressed system and our incarceration philosophy which has been punishment.


There is a lot of difference between laws that require intent and those that only require “recklessness” (also called “gross negligence”). As I said before, not using the right car seat for a child can get one convicted of that. Once one departs from “intent”, it’s subjective judgment from there on down. In other words “how do I perceive it”. People vary hugely in their beliefs about “recklessness”.


Nice thread hijack attempt. Reread the thread title, and if you want to discuss voting rights for felons, start a different thread.

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