Voisine et al. v. United States – Federal Firearm Ban Applies in All Tribal, Federal, or State Domestic Violence Convictions

On June 27, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Voisine et al. v. United States, 579 U.S. __ (2016), affirming that federal law (18 U.S.C. §922(g)(9)) prohibits gun ownership by individuals who have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, regardless of whether the crime was committed with knowing, intentional, or reckless intent. A conviction in federal, state, or tribal court triggers the firearms ban.

Domestic violence often escalates over time, and can progress from reckless misdemeanors to life-threatening and even fatal assaults. Research also indicates that the mere presence of a gun in domestic violence situations dramatically increases the risk of homicide. As the Court recognized, “Firearms and domestic strife are a potentially deadly combination.” The Court’s decision ensures that domestic violence convictions in tribal court, as well as in state or federal courts, can be used to trigger the federal ban and keep firearms away from dangerous offenders. If the firearms prohibition is aggressively enforced, it can interrupt the progression of abuse and save lives. 

The full opinion is available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-10154_19m1.pdf.