4th Circuit Court , Lautenberg domestic violence law may overturn on 2nd amendment
U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Says Man May Have 2nd Amendment Defense To Losing Firearms Rights To Lautenberg Law Sanctions
The United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Lautenberg Law forbidding firearms ownership by a person convicted of domestic violence could be invalid, at least in one case. This is in the light of the groundbreaking Heller decision. The ruling will not set precedent in the 4th Circuit because the case ruling is unpublished. But, it is significant.
The case is US v. Chester, No. 09-4084 (4th Cir. Feb. 23, 2010). Here is part of it.
“A grand jury sitting in the Southern District of West Virginia indicted William Samuel Chester, Jr., for possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9). Chester moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that application of the federal statute to him violated his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as explained in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008). The district court denied the motion. Thereafter, Chester pled guilty but reserved his right to appeal the district court’s denial of his motion to dismiss the indictment. He now reiterates his Second Amendment challenge to § 922(g)(9).
In the proceedings below, the district court did not address whether Heller required the Government to justify individual laws that restrict Second Amendment rights. Instead, it dismissed Chester's claim in reliance on Heller’s much-noted language as to “presumptively lawful” gun regulations—notably, the felon-dispossession laws. JA 60-61. Following the pattern of other lower federal courts, it drew an analogy between felons and domestic violence misdemeanants, concluding that the Heller language should be read to include both because the potential violent acts of those found guilty of domestic violence is often far greater than that of those who commit non-violent felonies. JA 61.
We find that the district court erred when it failed to scrutinize § 922(g)(9) apart from the language in Heller. We agree with the Seventh Circuit decision in United States v. Skoien, 587 F.3d 803, 808 (7th Cir. 2009), insofar as it held that challenges to firearms regulations under the Second Amendment must be individually analyzed because such regulations restrict the exercise of a constitutional entitlement. In this case, the district court neither determined the most appropriate level of scrutiny of § 922(g)(9), nor did it substantively apply that level of scrutiny to an analysis of § 922(g)(9), and therefore, we vacate and remand this case for further proceedings.”