High Court Ruling On Guns, Domestic Violence Preserves 34 State Laws

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A Supreme Court ruling affirming a 20-year-old law barring anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from possessing a firearm is “hugely significant” because it will protect thousands of domestic-violence victims “who, if the court had ruled the other way, would not have been protected by the federal gun ban,” Ruth Glenn of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence tells Law.com.

In a 6-2 ruling written by Justice Elena Kagan yesterday, the high court rejected challenges by two men convicted of felony gun possession because they previously had been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

The ruling reflected a broader debate that attracted amicus briefs from gun rights groups, gun-control groups, and organizations advocating for victims of domestic violence. William Rosen of Everytown For Gun Safety called the ruling “an important victory, particularly for women and families.”

If the high court had thrown out the felony gun possession convictions at the heart of the case, Rosen said the statutory language on which the Supreme Court challenge was based would have endangered laws in 34 states and the District of Columbia that contain broad definitions of intent in domestic-violence cases.

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