Supreme Court Upholds Reasonable Restrictions on Guns for Domestic Abusers

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Peter Hamm,
Communications Director
Doug Pennington,
Assistant Director: 202-898-0792.

Supreme Court Upholds Reasonable Restrictions on Guns for Domestic Abusers

WASHINGTON - The United States Supreme Court today rejected arguments by the gun
lobby and convicted wife beater Randy Edward Hayes that federal law
allowed Hayes to possess firearms, upholding the broad federal ban on
gun possession by convicted misdemeanor domestic violence abusers.  The
Court cited arguments made by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
about the risks posed by firearms in the hands of domestic abusers
.

The 7-2 ruling in United States v. Hayes was a blow to
gun lobby groups that had urged the Court to severely narrow the
federal Lautenberg Amendment that bars gun possession by abusers
convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.  The Court
reversed an earlier ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit that, if upheld, would have allowed convicted
abusers in at least 25 states to rearm themselves with firearms.

"In its first gun case since the landmark Heller decision,
the Court wisely upheld this reasonable restriction," said Brady Center
President Paul Helmke.  "Today's ruling is the right one for victims of
domestic abuse and to protect law enforcement officers who are our
first responders to domestic violence incidents."

"Today, the Supreme Court sided with abused women and children and
against the gun lobby," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), a leader in
the fight to reduce gun violence and the author of the domestic
violence gun ban.  "Since it was enacted, my domestic violence gun ban
has kept more than 150,000 guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. 
We know a gun in the home makes it much more likely that domestic abuse
results in death and today's decision means we can continue keeping
guns out of dangerous hands and saving innocent lives."

Congress enacted the Lautenberg Amendment in 1996 to prohibit abusers
convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes from possessing
firearms.  In April 2007, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a
wife beater's conviction for illegal gun possession by narrowly
interpreting the Lautenberg Amendment as only barring gun possession by
abusers convicted of laws specifically barring domestic violence,
rather than all persons convicted of domestic violence under general
assault and battery laws. 

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, joined by law enforcement
organizations, had filed a brief in support of the ban on gun
possession by all abusers convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence,
which was cited by the Court.  The brief highlighted the great danger
that armed abusers pose to family members of these abusers as well as
law enforcement officers summoned to address such violence.  On
average, more than three people are killed by intimate partners every
day in this country.   Intimate partner homicides account for up to
one-half of all homicides of females.   Every year between 1,000 and
1,600 women die at the hands of their male partners, and 14 percent of
all police officer deaths occurred during a response to domestic
violence calls. 

The groups that joined the Brady Center brief are the International
Association of Chiefs of Police, Major Cities Chiefs, National
Sheriffs' Association, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement
Executives, Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association,
Police Executive Research Forum, National Black Police Association,
National Latino Peace Officers Association, Legal Community Against
Violence, and School Safety Advocacy Council.

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The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence.

We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

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