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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Gun Rights For Alleged Abusers At Issue

Gun Rights For Alleged Abusers At Issue


If you have been charged with domestic violence in Florida, it goes without saying that you want to avoid a conviction, because you do not want to spend time in jail. However, it is also possible to lose other rights both upon conviction and, in some cases, if you have a domestic violence injunction taken out against you. Perhaps the most discussed is the right to bear arms, as both Florida and U.S. federal law take that right away from people who have faced these consequences.

Why Target Firearm Rights?

The average person might question why firearm ownership is specifically targeted by law enforcement, but the reason is ease of use. Data reported by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimates that over half of all intimate partner homicides in 2021 involved guns, and that a woman is roughly five times more likely to be murdered if her abuser has access to guns. Both state and federal legislatures try to set limits on gun ownership to cut down on this particular type of criminal offense.

Florida law is clear that if a person has been the subject of a final domestic violence injunction (as opposed to a temporary or ex parte injunction, which can be issued without a hearing), they may not have any firearm or ammunition “in their care, custody, possession, or control.” Violating that law is a first-degree misdemeanor, in addition to facing any further firearm-related charges the law permits.

Things May Change

Federal law, as of this writing, holds that anyone who has been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence will face a prison term of up to 10 years, plus a $250,000 fine, if they are found to possess a firearm. This provision dates back to 1996, and is known as the Lautenberg Amendment. What many do not realize is that under this specific law, the ban on firearm ownership is permanent, with very few exemptions allowed.

That said, a case before the U.S. Supreme Court may amend or abolish the Lautenberg Amendment and fundamentally change the rights of those convicted of domestic violence. U.S. v. Rahimi is a case appealed from the Fifth Circuit, in which a defendant appealed his ban from firearm ownership. The Fifth Circuit held that legislatures cannot bar those convicted of domestic violence from gun ownership unless the law has a “historical analogue” – essentially, veiled legal originalism masquerading as effective gun control. As of this writing, no decision has been reached in Rahimi, but the law will fundamentally change if the court sides with the Fifth Circuit.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

While the issue of firearm rights may still be profoundly affected by Rahimi, current law still bars firearm possession for those facing domestic violence charges or convicted of this type of offense. If you have questions or concerns about your firearm rights while charges are pending, a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. may be able to assist. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.



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