The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld a federal law which tightens gun control in America.
The law ensures anyone with a criminal conviction for domestic violence is banned from owning a gun.
As reported by Gawker, the case Voisine v. United States, involved two men from Maine who had both pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault.
The decision passed with a 6-2 majority, and is a major success for women’s rights, gun control, and domestic violence activists.
The men cited decades-old common law arguing their their assault conduct had been ‘reckless,’ rather than ‘knowing or intentional,’ and therefore their crimes should not qualify as misdemeanor domestic violence – which prevents them from owning a firearm.
The court rejected their claims on the grounds the common-law approach is largely outdated.
Justice Elana Kagan – who voted in favour of upholding the ban – said:
The common law traditionally used a variety of overlapping and, frankly, confusing phrases to describe culpable mental states—among them, specific intent, general intent, presumed intent, willfulness, and malice.
Whether and where conduct that we would today describe as reckless fits into that obscure scheme is anyone’s guess…Nothing suggests that, in enacting §922(g)(9), Congress wished to look beyond that real world to a common-law precursor that had largely expired. To the contrary, such an approach would have undermined Congress’s aim by tying the ban on firearms possession not to the laws under which abusers are prosecuted but instead to a legal anachronism.
It may not have been the passing of further, stricter laws, but it certainly is a step in the right direction to ensure guns remain out of the hands of people who have proven themselves untrustworthy.