Supreme Court Will Consider Whether Domestic Violence Conviction Barred Gun Possession

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 94 percent of female homicide victims were murdered by a male they knew, and 61 percent of those killers were a spouse or intimate acquaintance. Female intimate partners were more likely to be killed by a gun than any other weapon.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case on whether some domestic violence convictions don’t count for the purpose of federal gun prohibitions. In one of eight cases the justices announced they would hear Tuesday, James Alvin Castleman is arguing that his misdemeanor domestic assault conviction under Tennessee law does not bar him from owning a gun.

. . . . The Supreme Court’s review comes as several members of Congress have proposed laws to add even more domestic violence-related offenses to the federal background checks list. Among the crimes they seek to include are temporary protective orders and misdemeanor stalking crimes. With congressional action stalled on guns, a Supreme Court ruling to exempt some misdemeanors would instead roll that protection back.

For women in particular, domestic violence is one of the biggest risks associated with gun ownership. A recent Violence Policy Center review of 2011 FBI crime data found that 94 percent of female homicide victims were murdered by a male they knew, and 61 percent of those killers were a spouse or intimate acquaintance. Female intimate partners were more likely to be killed by a gun than any other weapon.

The prohibition of domestic violence offenses is a major component of federal background checks, accounting for more than 14 percent of rejected federal firearms transfers even without the additional prohibitions on stalking and temporary protective orders. And as this case shows, those numbers don’t account for the many individuals who obtain a gun through illicit means.

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