Keeping guns out of the hands of those convicted of domestic violence
In a rare ruling for public safety - all the more so because it was unanimous - the Supreme Court has upheld a federal law that makes any domestic violence conviction a bar to gun ownership.
James Castleman of Tennessee pleaded guilty in 2001 to a state charge of misdemeanor domestic assault against the mother of his child. In 2009 he was charged with illegal possession of a firearm, based on the domestic violence conviction.
Gun rights groups and Mr. Castleman argued that his 2001 conviction should not disqualify him from gun ownership because his plea did not specify the use of violence.
The ruling written for the unanimous court by Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that the domestic violence charge to which Mr. Castleman had pleaded guilty, that he "intentionally or knowingly caused bodily injury to" the mother of his child, was sufficient to invoke the federal prohibition of his gun ownership.
The ruling maintains a degree of safety for domestic violence victims in dozens of state that intentionally do not require specific acts of violence for a domestic violence conviction, but leave it to judges and juries to determine what constitutes domestic violence. And it holds out hope for further common sense measures to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of people who should not have them.