The United States Supreme Court agreed to review existing gun bans for domestic violence convictions on Oct. 2. In 1996, a federal ban prohibited gun possession by those with histories of domestic abuse, particularly with the use or attempted use of physical force. James Castleman was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault and was later arrested for selling guns on the black market. Due to the federal ban, he was charged with two counts of possession. He said that, since his conviction was for assault and not for violence, it could have been a “minor injury” that would not qualify as violent physical force.
Debate the legalese all you want; domestic abusers should not be able to own guns.
The main argument is whether or not misdemeanor-level offenses should prohibit someone from owning a gun. Since Castleman was charged with domestic assault and not domestic violence, he said that this conviction should not preclude him from owning a gun.
Castleman also said that the ban should not include threats or coercion. If he were to win the case, domestic violence gun bans would be essentially useless. Those defending Castleman fail to realize that domestic violence can extend far beyond physical force.
The Department of Justice defines domestic violence as patterns of abusive behavior, which can be physical, sexual (including marital rape), economic, emotional or psychological. Violence that does not result in bruises or scratches is often seen as a “lesser” sort of domestic violence. In reality, that is simply not true.
Emotional abuse and psychological abuse are often not thought of as domestic violence, but both can be equally terrorizing. For example, psychological abuse includes a person’s threat of physical harm or destruction to themselves or others. Though not physical, it carries the same weight of long-term damage to the victim, or in the case of families, to the children.
Statements like “I would die for you” are usually seen as romantic, but partners threatening to kill themselves if broken up with are emotionally manipulative and terrorizing. Would you trust that person with a gun?
According to the Violence Policy Center, prior domestic violence and having at least one gun in a household makes a woman 7.2 times more likely to be the victim of homicide. While domestic violence does not occur exclusively between men and women, women account for 85 percent of victims and men, 15 percent.
In regard to Castleman, the appeals court said that his conviction could have been based on a “minor injury.” Often, domestic violence can escalate over time whether or not it begins with a minor injury or another type of abuse.
The Supreme Court ought to have the insight to realize the implications of letting abusers own guns; Castleman was not subjected to background checks by purchasing guns illegally and neither were the people who purchased guns illegally from him. Why should the Supreme Court make it easier for criminals to have access to guns?
Guns and domestic violence are a deadly combination. Any sort of violence, coercion or intimidation should not be tolerated. Furthermore, given the startling increase in suicide and homicide with guns in the home, why should people with a history of domestic violence be allowed to possess a gun? It is illogical to believe that any sort of abuser should be allowed to possess a gun.