U.S. vs. Castleman
In 2009, a man named James Castleman was charged with violating federal gun laws when he was caught with firearms. Why did he “lose” this right in the first place? He pleaded guilty in 2001 to causing “bodily injury” to the mother of his child.
Flash forward a bit; Castleman decided to fight it, and a federal judge AND the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the charges because there was no proof he had “violent contact with the victim.” Think about this for a second. There was no PROOF that he had violent contact with the “victim.” We’ll get back to this.
The anti-gunners were relentless. It was appealed to the Supreme Court. Now comes the decision in the U.S. vs. Castleman, which restores the illegal gun possession charges against the Tennessee man because he had initially pleaded guilty to the 2001 charge. Anti-gun advocates are excited about this one, as they should be. This is a massive win for them.
The Supreme Court decision strengthens a federal law that bars anyone convicted of domestic violence from possessing a gun. This sounds great on the surface; I mean… who in their right mind would want a violent person capable of beating a loved one to have a gun, right? Well, it’s not that simple, and you know me enough by now to realize I’m not going to make this easy.
The ban extends to anyone who has pleaded guilty to at least a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence, even in cases in which there was no PROOF of violent acts or physical injury (as demonstrated in the case of Mr. Castleman). The ruling overturns previous decisions in several regions, including the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California, which had said the ban applied only to convictions that involved a “violent use of force.”
My position may not be a popular one, but I feel it is a Constitutional one. Essentially, we are looking at a ban on firearms for people that INCLUDE those with no violent history, no felony convictions, and no proof that a violent act occurred. Let me reiterate this for clarity. This bill can now take a fundamental, unalienable right away from people with no violent history, no felony convictions, and no proof that a violent act occurred.
I don’t think this is a “slippery slope” at all, but let’s dig a little deeper. What is really in debate here is a 1996 law in which Congress expanded an existing ban that applied to anyone convicted of a felony in a domestic violence case to include misdemeanor convictions. And this is where the problem begins.
My problem with all of this is threefold. 1) Eliminating someone’s inalienable right to keep and bear arms over a misdemeanor domestic violence with which there was no proof of violent acts or physical injury is a SERIOUS concern that needs to be evaluated on all levels. If you support this law, I would ask you to reevaluate the position based on the perspectives provided to you here today because this is far beyond reason for me. Why? Because DV also comprises verbal and emotional “abuse.”
Play this scenario out in your head. A woman cheats on her husband, and surprise, surprise… the husband finds out and disapproves. Let’s pretend that the woman is in love with her new partner. So they fight, and the husband (in his hurt and frustration) calls her a bitch and says he wishes she were dead and never met her. Oops! She calls the cops, the husband goes to jail for verbal and mental abuse, threatening her life, and the husband more than likely loses his rights.
Seem extreme? Perhaps. Is this a possibility? Of course, it is. All it takes is a vindictive partner and an over-zealous cop. So they go to court, and he pleads guilty. Why? Perhaps because he believes himself so in love, he will fall on the proverbial sword to make it all go away (which it will not) and prove that she shouldn’t leave him. Seem extreme? Why? Women do it all the time. Think about how many similar scenarios we could have within this realm. We hear these stories all the time, and there are numerous scenarios that I can sit here and think about on both sides of the coin. All it takes is a legally savvy man or woman with a vindictive nature to destroy the unalienable right of the partner. Sometimes it wouldn’t even take that. But we must remember that DV is not just a “couple’s problem,” and it’s not just men against women. It can be a woman against a man, a woman against a woman, a man against a man, or even a family member against a family member.
2) While I don’t think couples or family members should be “violent” to one another, we must return to reality. We must also understand that the law suggests that “pushing, grabbing, shoving” is included in domestic violence. How many men do you know that have been slapped by a woman, deserving or not? That’s DV. How many women do you know that have pushed or shoved their man out of frustration? That’s DV. The problem is that “pushing, grabbing, shoving” are also often relative terms that ANY party can significantly exaggerate. Grabbing someone because they were hitting you, for instance, who gets the favor? How many shoving matches have you gotten into with siblings? How many verbal “assaults” have you endured by a family member? That’s DV. Once again, all it takes is a jerk in the family with a vague understanding of the law and a phone to have you thrown in jail for something that would otherwise be trivial at best. Guess what? This law allows such behaviors.
3) A domestic violence misdemeanor occurs when one family member commits or even threatens violence (or verbal abuse) against another family member or household member. By the law, this could even include one brother telling the other brother he’s going to “kick his ass” if he doesn’t grab him a beer. In fact, according to several legal definitions, I was on the receiving end of countless DV situations throughout my entire childhood… and perhaps even into my adulthood with one of my brothers.
Think about this: a heated or angry exchange of opposite views is an argument. As we have seen repeatedly, some take great offense if you disagree with their positions. Liberals, for instance, are notorious for such behaviors. Would you or could you put it past a dingbat liberal to use this law to the fullest extent just to hurt their conservative family member for not agreeing with their point?
Think about an over-zealous liberal family member who does not like the way you raise your child. Perhaps you are stern and raise your voice or are willing to discipline your child physically (both within the realm of the law and your religion) when they are acting out. You are being aggressive and have placed your hands on your child. Imagine your liberal family member calling the cops or the state on you for DV because they disapprove of your parenting style. Too bad! This law has the potential to take away your rights.
Another problem is that law enforcement in many states is forced to make an arrest if a DV call is made (even though the reason for doing so has been obliterated by studies and also regardless if there is any proof of violence); in other words… someone is going to jail regardless. Which, of course, results in the charge itself. The way I’m reading this, someone is getting their rights taken away no matter what.
Why? Because the cops don’t know you… and they don’t know your crazy partner or sibling either. They have a job to do, and they will do it regardless of your rights because if they don’t, they won’t have a job. This particular court case ensures it. I can see this being used for just as much harm as it does good. And don’t get me wrong, I understand the law’s stated intent, the desire to pass it, and so on. The White House published a blog saying the case “will save women’s lives.” Never mind how sexist that is, once again, the road to hell was paved with good intentions, and I don’t trust anti-gunners under ANY circumstance.
Now, I would like to say this little rant here is not addressing the violent types who have been convicted of felony domestic violence. That is an entirely different discussion and one that I hope you are not going to confuse in this discussion. I am detailing my point, so please stick with the spirit of the conversation. I’m also not suggesting that these scenarios will take place on every call. I’m talking about the potential for misuse and abuse of the law. Perhaps you believe that a few innocent people sacrificing their rights is a small price to pay for the potential good this law may provide. I beg to differ. I tend to think that trading any liberty for any possible security is a bad idea and an idea that usually backfires.
The decision states that the ban is extended to anyone who has pleaded guilty. Maybe it boils down to two things: 1) don’t plead guilty if you find yourself in this situation, and 2) hope that the courts will be willing to scrutinize the case with an unbiased mind and on a case-by-case basis (unlikely). But let us also throw in 3) understand that this law is against gun owners, not just people who commit domestic violence, and it gives a tool to the anti-gunners to further their disarming mission.
Getting back to the point. The law states that this includes incidents where there is no PROOF that violent contact has occurred. A fundamental concept in the United States justice system is the expression “innocent until PROVEN guilty.” Even the UN recognizes that everyone charged with a penal offense has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to the law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense. So once again, addressing those who plead guilty to make it all go away, no proof that anything happened, rights go away.
All this being said, know that I feel for those who have been victims of DV. I do! No one should have to go through that, and I’m not condoning or defending DV in any way, shape, or form. However, this particular law violates the Constitution and the UN Declaration of Human Rights… but more than that; it gives WAY too much power to the crazy and the anti-gunners. I’m not a fan.
Food for thought: In a couple of the DV instances described above, verbal/mental abuse plays a big part. Physical contact also plays a role, but no weapon is ever used. Still, the law finds it necessary to restrict firearms when really… it was speech involved in the offense. One could even go as far as to say religion had failed to provide a foundation of moral behavior to prevent it.
So if we are going to start arbitrarily taking rights away from people and if we feel that restricting unalienable rights is acceptable, then why are we not prohibiting or banning the Freedom of Speech or Religion in these situations? Would you be offended if the person charged with DV in these situations lost their right to free speech or even religion? Why are we not imposing a gag order or forcing state ran religion to hone the moral compass better? Oh, let me guess… that’s different? Well, then, how about a forced separation between the two parties? No? Well, then, so much for punishment fitting the crime.
If you try to tell me that something like a court order, such as a restraining order, doesn’t work, and that is why they have to take away gun rights, then you do not have a handle on reality. Guess what? A court order saying someone cannot have a gun holds the same weight as a court order declaring the individual needs to stay away. Is this argument somehow different too?
One final thought. Today we live in a nation where many of our prisoners find themselves in private, “for-profit” institutions. Our nation incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation. This means that we have more people in prison (here in the land of the free) than China (a communist nation), and they have the most people on the planet. Why? Two reasons: We make laws meant to create criminals, and private prisons create demand for prisoners.
Now we are condoning laws that incarcerate people and take away rights without proof they even committed a crime. Seriously? If you want a glimpse into the future of our nation, you need only understand the following statement and not lie to yourself as you read it. We now live in a country where the system of government is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state. This system is controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens’ activities and is willing to adhere to code rather than law. Then it places fellow citizens into a for-profit machine. By definition, this means we are living in a “police state.”
But you know what? It’s not the cop’s fault for enforcing the laws. It’s YOUR fault for allowing the law in the first place. Don’t get angry at cops for doing their job. Be mad at yourself for the opportunity to even be there. You’re the one who allowed this police state because you condone the laws being put forth to enforce in the first place. This does not excuse the state for enforcing such laws, but they live the perception that the people condone it because you have allowed it.
This is NOT how it’s supposed to be. We all know it. Still, many do nothing. Status quo.
You might be asking why I am taking such a personal position. It’s simple. I have seen what situations like this can do. The truth is that I have someone close to me that wound up dating what I would describe as a psycho female. She was a drunk. She was verbally and physically abusive to him when she drank, and he was often in a position where he just had to take it. One day, she got out of control and started swinging at him. To protect himself from the Tasmanian Devil, he grabbed her arms and turned her to the side so he could leave his own house and call the cops. Guess how that one ended.