Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Petitioner in U.S. v. Castleman
32 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2014
Date Written: December 21, 2013
Violence between intimate partners is not exclusively exhibited as physical force or dominance. To permit Congress to address only domestic violence that presents itself as physical abuse alone is at best inept, and at worst, a fatal miscalculation. The Sixth Circuit’s holding on appeal unduly restricts the enforceability of the Gun Control Act (18 U.S.C. § 922) and the Lautenberg Amendment (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)) by limiting the definition of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” to assault and battery offenses requiring strong and violent physical force. This limitation permits domestic abusers to possess weapons and endangers the safety of victims, members of law enforcement, and the general public.
An informed, evidence-based understanding of domestic violence encompasses the exertion of power and control, including but not limited to physical violence. For example, the Johns Hopkins University’s “Danger Assessment,” a scientifically tested fatality predictor for women experiencing domestic violence, illustrates that violence between intimate partners appears as dominance and control through various means, such as economic, emotional and psychological abuse. Of its twenty questions, only a few of the assessment’s questions reference physical force.
The Gun Control Act embraces this modern understanding of the crime of domestic violence, acknowledging that the crime is not limited to violent physical force. The plain meaning of the Act and its legislative history fully support a more inclusive application of the firearms restriction – one of the few tools that police and prosecutors have to prevent officer and victim fatalities.
Keywords: Domestic Violence, Regulation of Firearms
JEL Classification: I18; K14: K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation