Ever since 1994, those who have been accused of domestic violence often lose their right to own firearms. This is a right granted to all Americans under the Second Amendment, but it can be taken away for specific reasons. One of those reasons is if someone else has an order of protection taken against that person.
That said, this law has recently been called into question and is going to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. There is a case claiming that automatically removing gun ownership rights may be a problem for law-abiding citizens. How could this happen?
Mutual restraining orders
The problem, critics claim, is that a judge may hand out mutual restraining orders when there is a disagreement between two people and it appears that domestic violence may have been an issue. It is often hard for them to sort out at the moment who is the victim and who is the aggressor. Mutual restraining orders are designed to simply keep those people apart while the legal process moves forward.
But what this means, those critics say, is that people who have not broken the law and are “otherwise good people” could lose their right to own firearms due to this mutual restraining order. These people are then worried that they will not feel safe if they are not allowed own a gun, or they are worried that they will be sent to prison if they violate the law by purchasing a firearm anyway.
How often is this law used?
In the last 25 years, it does appear that this law has been used almost 78,000 times. That is the number of firearm sales that have been prevented.
In fact, those who support this law point out that 70 American women are shot every month by intimate partners – spouses, boyfriends and significant others. Guns are used in homicides more often than any other type of weapon, and gun safety groups point out that it’s not just spouses or romantic partners who are in danger. There could also be situations where children are in the home.
An interesting case
It will certainly be interesting to see how this case plays out and how the Supreme Court rules. It’s also very important for those who have been accused of domestic violence to know exactly what legal defense options they have, especially if they worry that their fundamental rights are in jeopardy.