Domestic abusers not allowed gun ownership rights

Felons are already blocked from owning or using guns. Some states have laws expanding that to domestic abusers charged with misdemeanors.

Two men convicted of domestic violence crimes sued the state of Maine arguing that because the violence against their significant other was committed recklessly, and not intentionally, they should be allowed to own guns.

The Supreme Court justices ultimately disagreed with them. The majority opinion says, in part: "Congress's definition of a misdemeanor crime of violence contains no exclusion for convictions based on reckless behavior. A person who assaults another recklessly uses force, no less than one who carries out that same action knowingly or intentionally."

For those who've dealt with domestic abuse first hand, this ruling means a major victory. 

"In 1998 when my abuser brought a gun to my home, he wasn't thinking about the statute, he wasn't think about the law, he was thinking about harming me," says Courtney Santana, domestic abuse survivor, Survive2Thrive Foundation.

Courtney Santana was able to seek help back then and now advocates for others. She says there should be more deterrents and stronger punishments when it comes to domestic violence.

On Monday the Supreme Court ruled that reckless domestic assaults can be considered misdemeanor crimes to restrict gun ownership.

"If your right to bear arms means that much to you, then you'll think about what you're about to do. You'll take that second to say, 'okay, if I hurt or if I hit him then I'm going to lose some of the rights that I am given as a citizen of the United States," says Santana.

The owner of Central Texas Gun Works says this is just another attack on the second amendment, which is the only right abused in this way.

"A person can go out here and have an argument with their spouse, jump into a vehicle and run them over. They won't lose their driving rights but they will lose their second amendment rights," says Michael Cargill, owner, Central Texas Gun Works.

Cargill says if someone was convicted of domestic violence within the last 5 years and was trying to purchase a gun, in that case a ban may be fair.

But when you've paid the price for a misdemeanor charge he says you should be able to get all of your rights back.

"What if you've done this 20 or 30 years ago? This happened in the heat of the moment about 20 or 30 years ago. You got into an argument, you pushed your spouse or someone and something happened. You were charged and convicted with domestic violence. That means that you will never ever be able to purchase a firearm from a gun store. That's not right," says Cargill.

Those for and against this ruling can agree that whether there's a gun ban or not, abusers will still find a way to abuse.

Texas Council on Family Violence sent us this statement saying:

We applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for upholding the law passed by Congress that prohibits people convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun. Guns in the hands of convicted domestic violence abusers is dangerous and deadly. Today’s ruling represents a victory for victims and survivors of domestic violence. In Texas in 2014, 132 women were killed in domestic violence homicides 67% killed using a gun. Denying convicted abusers’ access to firearms saves lives.

If you're a domestic abuse survivor who needs help finding a shelter, click here.

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