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Misdemeanor domestic violence: The right to own a gun

Federal law overrides California's former gun law, which permitted misdemeanor domestic violence offenders to carry a weapon.
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    December 10, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A man from California was convicted of domestic violence many years back. He recently lost an appeal, and as a result, he will never be able to own a gun. This is because the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has officially ruled that a prohibition against gun ownership for those convicted of violent crimes is not in violation of the Second Amendment.

In this particular case, the defendant was found guilty of a misdemeanor level domestic violence offense approximately 17 years ago. Yet, when the man applied to purchase a firearm in 2009, he did not indicate that he had a criminal history. This omission raised a red flag to federal agents.

Pursuant to further investigations, authorities discovered online footage of the defendant shooting guns. Moreover, investigators found out that the man had purportedly threatened to shoot his estranged spouse if she ended their relationship.

Agents ultimately searched the man's home and uncovered a few firearms and roughly 500 rounds of ammunition. Shortly after, the defendant was charged. The man decided to fight back, asserting that the federal law, which requires a lifetime ban on guns for misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, is not constitutional.

However, when the case reached the panel of judges, one judge explained, "The government has demonstrated that domestic violence misdemeanants are likely to commit acts of domestic violence again and that, if they do so with a gun, the risk of death to the victim is significantly increased."

Gun laws: convicted offenders

Initially, the California law at issue only applied to criminals convicted of violent felonies. However, in 1996, U.S. Congress transformed the law to include misdemeanor domestic violence offenses. The change stemmed from the reasoning that domestic violence matters tend to be among the most frequent violent crimes, which occur in homes of victims.

Therefore, ten years after the misdemeanor conviction, the defendant would have been able to own a firearm under California law; however, the federal law now supersedes the state law. As a result, the defendant is not permitted to own a gun for the rest of his life. The defendant has pleaded guilty to possessing illegal weapons.

This story is a reminder of the fact that criminal law is always evolving. What may have been considered legal at one point can quickly transform into something subject to criminal charges.

If you are facing charges for domestic violence, you can benefit from legal assistance. As seen above, rights may be limited upon a conviction. An attorney can aid with the criminal justice process.

Article provided by The Law Office of Charles B. Smith
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