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Federal Gun Control Laws and Domestic Abuse

Date Posted to Site: 05/28/2009

#18) United States v. Hayes (decided February 24, 2009)

7-2. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg authored the opinion in favor of the United States. This ruling reinforces the extension of federal gun control laws to include convicted domestic abusers. Reacting to a 911 call from the home of Randy Hayes, law enforcement officers found a rifle and further investigation revealed Hayes had recently handled other firearms. He was arrested and convicted of illegally possessing firearms as a convicted domestic abuser. Hayes had been found guilty in 1994 of beating his now ex-wife.

The Fourth Circuit overturned the conviction when it concluded that the West Virginia battery statute didn't specifically relate to domestic violence even though the violence was clearly domestic in nature. This High Court's ruling overturning the Fourth Circuit holds that no matter the statutory language, if the relationship between the abuser and the abused is domestic then the federal law prohibiting firearm possession is applicable.

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