Supreme Court Ruling May Threaten Victims of Domestic Violence, Among Others

A New York State man stands accused in federal court of lying on an application for a background check to purchase a gun. The alleged lie was his denial that he was subject to an order of protection.

Under federal statute, it is a felony for a person subject to a protective order to possess a gun.

Last year, a judge reportedly entered an order of protection against the man in conjunction with a then-pending criminal domestic violence charge against him.

As part of an apparent plea bargain, the man pleaded guilty to a lesser violation. Accordingly, the man claimed that he believed that he was no longer subject to an order of protection.

But the man is also challenging the legality of the application’s question about orders of protection – based on a recent US Supreme Court ruling. The ruling proclaims the individual right to possess a gun.

As a result of the ruling, similar constitutional challenges to current legal restrictions on possession of firearms are now pending across the nation.

The US Supreme Court’s opinion, however, indicated in passing that it did not strike down long-established prohibitions on gun possession, for example, such as restrictions on possession by convicted felons or the mentally ill, or in “sensitive” places, such as schools and government buildings.

While the exceptions for felons and the mentally ill may well apply to many gun applicants with histories of domestic violence, the high court’s casual re-affirmation (in dicta) of certain exceptions undoubtedly invites many legal challenges – challenges that will leave victims of domestic violence feeling particularly vulnerable for a long time to come.

Read more in this Albany Times Union article: Landmark ruling used to challenge gun case.