Guns and domestic abuse

A law that bars gun possession is unanimously upheld

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision was a major victory in protecting women and children from domestic violence.

The unanimous ruling, written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, said that most physical assaults are “relatively minor and consist of pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, and hitting.” The justice added that it is irrelevant whether these actions leave bruises or abrasions for them to be considered domestic violence under the law.

The case questions the interpretation of a federal law that forbids those convicted of domestic violence from possessing firearms. It involved James Castleman, who argued that he was not physically violent toward his wife during the incident for which he pleaded guilty to “misdemeanor domestic violence.” Several courts agreed with him. The National Rifle Association (NRA) again argued that only those convicted of violent felonies can be banned from possessing firearms without violating their Second Amendment rights.

Following the NRA’s argument, this means that we should wait until one spouse kills the other to then ban him from having guns. What the NRA does not take into account, and what Sotomayor does point out in the decision, is the gradual escalation of violence that characterizes domestic abuse cases.

The high court’s unanimous support for the ruling, despite other justices not agreeing with all of Sotomayor’s arguments, is a victory for common sense. It is a triumph of the rights of the most vulnerable individuals in the home over the aggressor, punishing him in exemplary fashion by barring him from possessing a gun.

The verdict will surely save lives by removing firearms from the hands of violent spouses in order to prevent an angry act from turning them into murderers.