In our country, the Second Amendment provides for the rights of the citizens to bear arms. This right to possess weapons is cherished by many and, in some people’s opinions, is one of the aspects of freedom that makes our nation great. However, we all know that the right to carry firearms comes with a heavy responsibility. Although we have a right to bear arms, that right can be restricted if we make certain bad decisions.
One of those bad decisions is committing domestic abuse. The Lautenberg Amendment passed in 1996 provides that anyone convicted of domestic abuse cannot own or buy guns. This was recently held up in the case of Voisine v. United States, where the United States Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that “[a] person who assaults another recklessly ‘use[s]’ force, no less than one who carries out that same action knowingly or intentionally.” The Court clarified that to be denied the right to carry a firearm does not necessarily require criminal intent. Rather, a reckless assault resulting in conviction will deprive the aggressor of the right to bear arms.
History has shown that domestic abuse often escalates. Therefore, when a first assault occurs and it results in conviction, our legislature intended the Second Amendment protections to be superseded by the desire to protect the innocent victims of domestic abuse. While this is an admirable pursuit, the problems come in when citizens are wrongfully accused of domestic assault. Relationships can be complicated, and we have seen numerous cases of fraudulent domestic abuse calls resulting from arguments, high tempers or out of plain old fashioned revenge. Many times, in efforts to mend the relationship or to avoid further drama, the accused may plead just to end the situation and get on with their lives, never realizing that this plea could prevent them from ever owning a firearm again.
There are plenty of real cases of domestic abuse that take place every day in our country, and we all want the law to protect those victims and to punish those who commit the assaults. If you are in a relationship that is getting out of control, the absolute best thing you can do is leave.
However, as an attorney, I also want to make sure that my clients are not losing their constitutional rights because they have been wrongly accused and are simply trying to remedy a situation by entering a plea. If you’ve been charged with domestic abuse, it is very important that you consult with an experienced attorney BEFORE entering any type of plea. Don’t let an emotional decision affect you for life.