Saving Women From Their Abusers
Must Congress Must Act Again re: Firearms?
It’s a good thing Congress passed a law in 1996 barring people convicted of domestic violence from buying or owning guns. Today, despite horrifyingly frequent mass shootings and yearly gun deaths topping 30,000, lawmakers, nearly all of them Republican, stand in lock-step formation against even modest gun-control efforts--like preventing people suspected of terrorist ties from easily buying firearms.
Twenty years ago, in a somewhat less warped political universe, Congress saw clearly that domestic violence and guns were a deadly mix, and passed, with overwhelming bipartisan support, the Lautenberg Amendment, which barred people convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse from buying or owning a gun or ammunition. (Those convicted of felony domestic abuse were already subject to a gun ban under federal law.) As one senator said during debate over the bill, all too often “the only difference between a battered woman and a dead woman is the presence of a gun.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled, 6-to-2, that the law applies to domestic abusers even if they were found to have committed their offense recklessly, and not intentionally.
The case, Voisine v. United States, was brought by two Maine men who had been stripped of their right to own guns following convictions for domestic violence. One of the men, Stephen Voisine, had pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend. Officials didn’t realize he was violating the gun law until several years later--after he used his gun to shoot a protected bald eagle.
Mr. Voisine argued that his Second Amendment right was
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