Monday, November 10, 2008

Misdemeanor Domestic Violence and Guns Rights

A person gets in a bar fight, uses a bar stool and beats someone. Arrested and receives a misdemeanor conviction. The person still has the federal right to possess a firearm.

A person slaps his or her live in companion. Arrested and receives a Misdemeanor Domestic Violence conviction. Banned from possessing a firearm for life.

I never agreed that those convicted of Misdemeanor Domestic Violence should be forever banned from possessing a firearm.

Why the NRA rolled on this when it was brought up for a vote is beyond me.

I hope the Supreme Court will make the correct ruling on the case before it.


Gun Case Heard in U.S Supreme Court
Washington, D.C.


A Second Amendment gun case that originated in Marion County is now at the United States Supreme Court. The Highest Court in the Nation began hearing arguments from the 2004 case of United States vs. Hayes on Monday.

The case revolves around a federal law that makes it a crime to possess a gun after a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether a misdemeanor of simple battery fulfills the definition of domestic violence. The Court will also decide if the law can be applied retroactively since the conviction of battery happened back in 1994 before the federal statute was passed.

Charleston attorney Troy Giatras is arguing the case for Randy Hayes, the man accused of breaking the gun law, against the federal government.

"Individuals that only had a regular assault or a regular battery would not be prohibited from owning a firearm. Instead, it would relate to what the statute truly was aimed at and that was people who were convicted of domestic battery," says Giatras.

The case has already been heard in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals back in 2007. That court agreed with Giatras's argument and ruled in favor of Hayes. However, the U.S. Department of Justice appealed the case to the Supreme Court, and the Court agreed to hear the case based on other federal court decisions that conflicted with the Fourth Circuit's assessment.

This was Giatras's first trip to the Supreme Court. He's says thousands of hours have gone into preparing for this case.

"It was the pinnacle of my career, and at the same time. It was something I probably dreaded it only because of the level of preparation far exceeded my level of expectation," says Giatras.

A written decision in the United States vs. Hayes should come down some time before June 2009. This is the second gun control case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Earlier in the year, the Court struck down Washington, D.C.'s 32-year-old ban on handguns as unconstitutional in a 5-4 decision.

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