High Court To Hear Test Of Gun Rights, Domestic Violence Convictions

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The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case about the gun rights of two men found to have committed domestic abuse in Maine, reports The Trace. The question is what kind of domestic abuse do you have to be convicted of to have your gun rights taken away? Stephen Voisine and William Armstrong III violated a federal law called the Lautenberg Amendment that prohibits domestic abusers from possessing guns. They are arguing that the domestic violence charges they were convicted of should never have prevented them from getting guns in the first place.

Voisine was charged with domestic violence in 2003 after slapping his girlfriend while he was intoxicated. Authorities didn't learn that Voisine owned a gun until 2009, after a stranger reported to the police that Voisine had killed a bald eagle with a rifle. Armstrong pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor crime of simple assault in 2002 after he pushed his wife against a wall during an argument, leaving a “red mark.” Police found six guns during a search of his house in 2010. The Lautenberg Amendment says that any person “who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” cannot purchase or receive a firearm. Because of Voisine's and Armstrong's records, they were convicted of violating that statute when found with guns. In the Supreme Court, the lawyer for the men argues that the federal gun ban for domestic abusers was designed to apply to people who intended to harm their partners and had caused serious injury, and should not apply to those who get carried away in the heat of a dispute and do not seriously hurt their partners.

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