The Omnibus Appropriations Bill of 1997 (actually passed in 1996, back when Congress was in the business of passing budgets) contained the much-despised Lautenberg Amendment. This rider made it a felony for a person to possess firearms if they had ever been convicted of even a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence involving physical force. James Alvin Castleman of Tennessee was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend under Tennessee law and SCOTUS has recently granted certiorari in his appeal. The Nine have agreed to review the Lautenberg Amendment as it applies to certain domestic violence misdemeanors. It’s about f–ing time; let’s just pray they get it right . . .
The Lautenberg Amendment has been roundly criticized as violating the 2nd Amendment and for being an ex post facto law. Hundreds of thousands of people have been convicted of DV misdemeanors, and those convicted before 1996 were never warned that their guilty plea for pouring a beer over their girlfriend’s (or brother’s, uncle’s or college roommate’s) head would deprive them of their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
The United States Supreme Court has heard many challenges to the Lautenberg Amendment, and has thus far turned them all down. This time the court will decide whether misdemeanor-level DV assaults automatically qualify for the federal gun ban.