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Statement From Mayors Against Illegal Guns On United States V. Castleman

Case Will Determine Whether Domestic Violence Offenders Can Possess Guns

NEW YORK, Jan. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear United States v.Castleman, which will decide whether tens of thousands of convicted domestic abusers who are currently prohibited from possessing guns should be allowed to own guns.  Mayors Against Illegal Guns joined a broad range of organizations that submitted amicus briefs arguing that the Supreme Court should not arm domestic violence criminals by narrowing the number of domestic abuse misdemeanor convictions that prohibit gun ownership.  The coalition also released the following statement from its Executive Director Mark Glaze:

"Access to a gun is what often turns domestic violence into domestic homicide – in fact, the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.  It is imperative that the Supreme Court reverse the Sixth Circuit decision that would allow tens of thousands of dangerous convicted batterers to legally possess guns once again.  From the chiefs of police of more than 50 major American cities and leading domestic violence groups to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Americans recognize how important it is to keep guns out of the hands of convicted abusers – we're counting on the Supreme Court to keep Americans safe."

More information on this case:

  • Federal law prohibits gun possession by a person convicted of a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence."  18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9).  This definition should cover all domestic abusers convicted of a misdemeanor involving physical force —not just those cases where the physical force is also categorized as "strong" or violent."
  • However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that James Castleman, an illegal gun trafficker with a history of domestic violence, was not prohibited from possessing guns because the statute under which he was convicted for a misdemeanor for "intentionally or knowingly" causing bodily injury to the mother of his child did not necessarily require that an assault include "strong and violent" force.
  • Upholding the Sixth Circuit decision will impose severe costs on cities and pose serious risks to victims of domestic violence and the law enforcement officers who try to protect them. 
  • 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 Section 922(g)(9) in 1996, Senator Frank Lautenberg, who sponsored the provision, described the policy as establishing "zero tolerance" for domestic violence.
  • Most convicted domestic abusers are prosecuted under general assault or battery state laws that do not explicitly require "strong" or "violent" force — even though the great majority of those convictions are in fact based on the use of violent force.
  • If the Supreme Court upholds the Sixth Circuit's decision, domestic abusers convicted of misdemeanor assault or battery offenses in most if not all 50 states will be able to legally possess guns.
  • Such an outcome would open a gaping loophole in the law that keeps guns out of the hands of domestic abusers — and would hardly achieve a "zero tolerance" policy toward domestic violence. 

About Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Since its creation in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 members to more than 1,000 mayors from across the country. The coalition has more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters, making it the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country. Co-chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has united the nation's mayors around these common goals: protecting communities by holding gun offenders accountable; demanding access to crime gun trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to get guns. Learn more at www.MayorsAgainstIllegalGuns.org.

Erika Soto Lamb: [email protected] or 646-580-5281

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns

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