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United States v. Castleman

Case Status: Closed
Tennessee · January 15, 2014

572 U.S. 157 (2014) - Victory - Defending Domestic Violence Gun Ban

Following the success of the Supreme Court citing to Brady Legal’s brief in its United States v. Hayes decision that helped keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers, Brady filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in United States v. Castleman.

Similar to Hayes, Castleman moved to dismiss his indictment under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9), which prohibits the possession of firearms by anyone convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.” Castleman argued that his previous conviction for “intentionally or knowingly caus[ing] bodily injury to” the mother of his child didn’t qualify as a § 922(g)(9) offense. The Sixth Circuit agreed, holding that the degree of physical force required for a conviction to constitute a misdemeanor DV crime is the same as that required for a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act -- violent force -- and that Castleman could have been convicted for causing slight injury by nonviolent conduct.

Brady believes that the ban on domestic abusers owning firearms is an integral part of federal firearms law: in 2010 alone, at least 574 women in the US were shot to death by a DV perpetrator -- more than one woman every single day. Because of this, we believe that misdemeanor convictions -- not only felony convictions -- should trigger a firearm prohibition for domestic abusers because of their unique propensity toward violent crime. Accordingly, the Brady Center, joined by numerous other gun violence prevention organizations, filed an amicus brief opposing Castleman’s arguments.

In an important victory for women, children, and families nationwide, the Supreme Court agreed with Brady’s stance and reversed the Sixth Circuit’s decision. The Court unanimously agreed that federal law prohibits all domestic abusers from owning guns. Not a single Justice agreed with the gun lobby’s call to explode a gaping hole in the law that would have enabled domestic abusers to buy and possess guns in many states. Brady was again proud to have advanced a position that will save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.


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