Brady stands firm against bid to give convicted abusers access to firearms
Keeping guns out of the hands of abusers is critical to protect domestic violence victims from gun violence
WASHINGTON D.C., January 26, 2016 — Attorneys from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence will file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States Tuesday in a push to keep guns out of the hands of violent domestic abusers.
Brady’s brief beat back a bid by two Maine men – one convicted of hitting his girlfriend while drunk and the other convicted of pushing his wife into a wall – to once again get their hands on deadly weapons. After their domestic violence convictions, both men were later convicted of unlawful firearms possession. In their case before the Supreme Court, they are challenging those gun convictions, claiming their domestic assault convictions do not disqualify them from possessing firearms.
The men don’t deny they abused their partners; instead they are seeking to overturn their firearms convictions on a technicality – because they were convicted of a “less violent” type of domestic assault. They claim convictions based on abusive conduct that is reckless but not intentional should not disqualify them from having guns. But because domestic violence often escalates over time, it is critical to keep guns out of the hands of every convicted abuser.
Given the troubling link between domestic violence and gun deaths, keeping guns away from abusers actually saves lives. Most women who are murdered are killed by intimate partners, and their attackers’ weapon of choice is most often a gun. In fact, victims of domestic violence are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if there is a gun in the home.
“Despite the corporate gun lobby’s talking points, the data is clear that a gun in the home makes a family less safe, not more safe. And for women who have been victims of domestic violence, a gun in the home can be tantamount to a death sentence,” said Dan Gross, President of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Americans agree we should be doing everything we can to make it harder for dangerous and violent people to get guns. It’s just common sense that no domestic abuser should have access to a gun — period.”
“This case is about protecting women, children and families across the country, who shouldn’t have to worry that their abusers can access a deadly weapon,” said Jonathan Lowy, Director, of Brady’s Legal Action Project. “Victims of domestic abuse have a right to live free from violence and fear. Enabling domestic abusers to buy guns would erode those rights and fly in the face of common sense.”
Brady’s brief, which was written by attorneys from Covington & Burling, argues that any type of violence against a partner should disqualify a person from owning a deadly weapon like a gun. No convicted domestic abuser should be given access to something as dangerous as a gun.
The implications of the case are far reaching. An adverse decision would mean that in most states certain convicted domestic abusers would once again be allowed to possess guns.
The Voisine case is a follow up to the unanimous March 2014 decision in U.S. v. Castleman, which upheld the federal prohibition on ownership of firearms by all convicted domestic abusers, including those convicted of misdemeanors. The Castleman decision was a victory over the corporate gun lobby, which argued that federal law allows some domestic violence offenders to possess firearms. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence was joined by numerous gun violence prevention organizations in filing an amicus brief in the Castleman case.
In Voisine, Brady was again joined by several other gun violence prevention organizations. In addition, teams from two partner firms, Hogan Lovells and White & Case, also authored amicus briefs in Voisine. Hogan Lovells’ brief represented Child Justice and White & Case wrote for the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Jonathan Lowy is available for comment on the brief Brady will file today with the Supreme Court.
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.