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Wednesday, April 9, 2014
WND's Gun Columnist Unhappy That Domestic Abusers Can Lose Their Gun Rights
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The bamboozelment starts early in Jeff Knox's April 3 WorldNetDaily column:

The U.S. Supreme Court came down with a decision in March that effectively expands the base of people prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms in this country. In a unanimous decision in the case U.S. v. Castleman, the Court ruled that the law banning possession of firearms by anyone ever convicted of any crime of violence against a spouse or significant other – often referred to as the Lautenberg law – applies not only to crimes labeled as “Domestic Violence” or to such crimes that involve what an average person would consider actual violence, but also to things like pushing, shoving, or grabbing, even when no harm was intended and no injury sustained.

Many states have intentionally drawn a distinction between minor contact among family members during an argument and violence intended to harm, intimidate, or control. Those states’ common-sense approach to the matter has now been overruled by the Court, and convictions for charges like simple assault in cases like a woman slapping a cheating spouse, or a man pushing his way out the door to get away from an argument, will now include the mandatory loss of firearm rights for life – even if the incident occurred decades ago.

In fact, according to the Supreme Court ruling, the defendant in this case, James Castleman, pleaded guilty to "intentionally or knowingly caus[ing] bodily injury to" the mother of his child.

Despite having gotten a fundamental fact about the case he's writing about wrong, Knox goes on to complain that misdemeanor domestic violence isn't really violent and, thus, not sufficient to take away the perpetrator's right to possess a gun:

Our legal system distinguishes between a misdemeanor and a felony based on the severity of the crime. By definition, misdemeanors are minor criminal acts that cause little harm. On the other hand, felonies are serious crimes that cause significant harm. Punishment for misdemeanors and felonies reflect this distinction. If a crime deserves felony-level consequences, then the crime should be classified as a felony. If specific acts that can be labeled as “domestic violence” do not rise to the level of felony crimes, then the consequences should not be felony consequences.

Rather than address the problem of serious domestic violence being labeled a misdemeanor in many jurisdictions, the Lautenberg law simply throws an extra consequence onto the misdemeanor – the loss of the right to arms for life. Serious domestic violence should be a felony. Minor incidents of bumping or pushing have always rightly been considered misdemeanors. There is no rational justification for those involved in such incidents being debarred of their rights.

The Supreme Court begs to differ:

"Domestic violence" is not merely a type of "violence"; it is a term of art encompassing acts that one might not characterize as "violent" in a nondomestic context. See Brief for National Network to End Domestic Violence et al. as Amici Curiae 4-9; DOJ, Office on Violence Against [*5] Women, Domestic Violence (defining physical forms of domestic violence to include "[h]itting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, [and] hair pulling"), online at http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/domviolence.htm.[fn5] Indeed, "most physical assaults committed against women and men by intimates are relatively minor and consist of pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, and hitting." DOJ, P. Tjaden & N. Thoennes, Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence 11 (2000).

Minor uses of force may not constitute "violence" in the generic sense. For example, in an opinion that we cited with approval in Johnson, the Seventh Circuit noted that it was "hard to describe . . . as `violence'" "a squeeze of the arm [that] causes a bruise." Flores v. Ashcroft, 350 F. 3d 666, 670 (2003). But an act of this nature is easy to describe as "domestic violence," when the accumulation of such acts over time can subject one intimate partner to the other's control. If a seemingly minor act like this draws the attention of authorities and leads to a successful prosecution for a misdemeanor offense, it does not offend common sense or the English language to characterize the resulting conviction as a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence."

Knox concludes by lamenting that "the charge of 'guns for wife-beaters' resonates in the media," hampering any effort to repeal such laws, adding that "Labeling good people as criminals and taking away their constitutionally guaranteed rights based on minor lapses in the heat of passion serves no public safety purpose." Of course, if you've been convicted of domestic violence -- even a misdeameanor -- chances are you're not a good person.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:27 AM EDT

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