Ruling in Voisine v. United States Ensures Convicted Domestic Violence Offenders Cannot Possess Guns
WASHINGTON – Everytown for Gun Safety today released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion ensuring that convicted domestic violence offenders cannot buy and possess firearms. Everytown filed an amicus brief in Voisine v. United States, available here, urging the Supreme Court not to arm domestic violence criminals.
STATEMENT FROM ELIZABETH AVORE, LEGAL DIRECTOR, EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY:
“The Supreme Court decision today in Voisine v. United States is a victory for public safety, and especially for the women and children most commonly affected by domestic violence. Access to a gun is what often turns domestic abuse into murder. In fact, research shows that the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed. That’s why the Supreme Court’s rejection of dangerous arguments that would have eviscerated federal gun laws and allowed dangerous convicted abusers to legally possess guns in more than two-thirds of states is so significant. The Supreme Court agreed with our amicus brief urging the court not to rewrite our federal gun laws – marking an important victory for public safety.”
The Davis Polk & Wardell LLP legal team that filed the amicus brief for Everytown included Antonio J. Perez-Marques, David B. Toscano, Jillian Rennie Stillman, Antonio M. Haynes, Nick M. Axelrod, and Adrienne L. Adkins. They were joined on the brief by Everytown lawyers J. Adam Skaggs and Mark Anthony Frassetto.
Additional Information about Voisine v. United States:
- A federal gun law known as the Lautenberg Amendment prohibits gun possession by any person convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.” 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9).
- In Voisine v. United States, two defendants were convicted of illegal gun possession under § 922(g)(9) because they were apprehended with firearms after previously being convicted of domestic violence assaults. On appeal, they argued that the assault law they were convicted of violating should not be considered a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” because it permitted a conviction for “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” causing bodily injury or offensive physical contact. They argued that a crime that could be satisfied by “reckless” conduct should not be counted as a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.”
- The Everytown brief urged the Supreme Court to reject the argument that “reckless” crimes should be excluded from § 922(g)(9). The brief demonstrated that the clear goal of the federal gun law is to prohibit anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime from possessing a gun. When Congress enacted § 922(g)(9) in 1996, Senator Frank Lautenberg, who sponsored the provision, described the policy as establishing “zero tolerance” for domestic violence. Excluding “recklessness” crimes from § 922(g)(9) would fly in the face of Congress’s stated purpose in passing the Lautenberg Amendment.
If the Supreme Court had accepted the arguments made by the convicted abusers in Voisine, it would have posed a serious threat to public safety, because domestic abusers convicted of misdemeanor assault or battery offenses in more than two-thirds of the states could legally possess guns.