Federal Gun Conviction Reversal Has Gun-Control Implications


A Wisconsin man sentenced to two years in prison for shooting a deer while he was on probation for domestic violence has had his case overturned by a federal appeals court. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the case could have far-ranging impact in the gun-rights debate. For Steve Skoien, it meant he’ll be home for the holidays. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that in light of a major Supreme Court ruling about individual gun rights last year, prosecutors need to show that a lifetime ban on gun ownership for those convicted of domestic violence has a reasonable connection to reducing domestic gun violence.

That 1996 law on domestic violence, the appeals court found, should not be grouped with other “presumptively legal” firearm restrictions mentioned in the 2008 Supreme Court case, known as District of Columbia vs. Heller. The opinion by Judge Diane Sykes says that Heller’s “reference to exceptions cannot be read to relieve the government of its burden of justifying laws that restrict Second Amendment rights.” Skoien’s conviction was reversed and his case sent back to a lower court so prosecutors can try to meet that burden. On Wednesday, a judge ordered his release from federal prison in North Carolina, where he had been assigned to serve his sentence.

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