Court OK’s Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Gun Ban

A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejects a challenge that the federal ban on gun sales to people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence violates the Second Amendment.

The federal law banning gun sales to people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence does not violate the Second Amendment, an appellate court panel ruled on Thursday, The Trace reports. In a 2-1 decision, judges on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Lautenberg Amendment, a 1996 law that added lower-level domestic violence convictions to the list of prohibited categories for gun sales. The case, Stimmel v. Sessions, was brought by an Ohio man who was denied a gun purchase in 2002 after a background check showed he had pleaded no contest to domestic assault. According to an arrest report, Terry Lee Stimmel injured his then-wife’s head during an altercation in which he threw her against a wall, shoved her to the ground, and tried to forcibly remove her wedding rings.

Stimmel served one day of a 180-day jail sentence, and has never been convicted of another crime, a record of good behavior he claimed should result in the restoration of his gun rights. The Sixth Circuit panel majority disagreed. Judge Richard Griffin wrote that misdemeanor domestic violence isn’t like other lesser crimes. It is particularly dangerous, especially because abusers tend to be recidivists, he said. “Essential here is that the victim is more likely to be killed when a gun is present,” he noted. Judges have recognized that the special risks presented by domestic violence give the state a compelling interest to restrict abusers’ access to guns. Griffin, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote that the law has been unanimously upheld by federal courts, even those applying the “strict scrutiny” standard that often sinks regulations. Judge Danny Boggs dissented.