As a bipartisan group of negotiators drafted a gun control package that would have enough support to pass through the Senate, a seemingly consistent proposal – closing the “boyfriend’s door” to buy firearms – proved unexpectedly controversial. Democrats want to extend the disqualification of people convicted of crimes involving domestic violence beyond the current categories, while Republicans worry that the resulting legislation will rely on vague definitions and there are no adequate guarantees of due process.
Federal law has been around for a long time forbidden possession of weapons by people convicted of crimes punishable by more than a year in prison, which means almost all crimes. This life ban does not allow for rehabilitation, as it applies regardless of the age of the sentence and the obviously too wide, as it includes non-violent crimes such as fraud and even crimes such as drug trafficking that violate one’s rights. At the same time, the ban originally introduced may not be sufficiently inclusive, as it does not cover violent crimes such as assault and violence – including domestic violence, which could signal a potentially deadly threat.
In 1996, Congress addressed this issue by extending the ban to include convictions for any “crime of domestic violence.” This phrase is defined as a crime which “has as an element the use or attempted use of physical force or threat of use of a lethal weapon committed by the current or ex-spouse, parent or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim has a common child by a person who cohabits or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent or guardian, or by a person in a similar situation to the victim’s spouse, parent or guardian ‘. The ban also covers anyone who is subject to a restraining order aimed at protecting someone who falls into these categories and who faces a “credible threat” to her “physical safety”.
“Boyfriend Door” refers to the omission of crimes and restraining orders, involving people who have never been married to a potential gun buyer, never lived with him, and never had a child with him. If a woman does not fall into any of these categories, but is still reasonably afraid of an angry boyfriend, she will still be allowed to buy or possess a firearm, unless a court order or state law provides otherwise. Critics of the current federal government they argue that he lacks many potentially violent men, sometimes with deadly consequences.
Closing this loophole by extending the ban to other types of “intimate partners” may seem easy. But “legislators need to agree on what exactly makes someone an intimate partner.” New York Times notes. “Is it a date or several? Can an ex-boyfriend count?” NBC News reports that “Republicans want a clear and limited definition that includes only serious long-term relationships, while Democrats say it must be able to cover abuse in a variety of dating circumstances to make it meaningful.”
California illustrates the latter approach. That determines “Intimate partner”, which includes current or former participants in a “dating relationship”, meaning “Frequent, intimate associations, characterized primarily by the expectation of attachment or sexual participation, regardless of financial considerations.” This definition does not specify how long the relationship should last or how “frequent” “intimate associations” should be, and leaves open the question of whose expectations or perceptions are decisive.
To some extent, California is circumventing such problems after the gun ban covers anyone convicted of assault, beating or persecution, regardless of his relationship with the victim. That means someone swinging his fist during an argument at the bar – which qualifies as an attack under California law, even if the fist does not connect and does not cause injury – would loses his right to bear arms for 10 years if convicted. California also casts a wide net when it comes to protection orders, which may include, for example, orders received from employers, schools, and anyone who claims to have been harassed or persecuted.
In addition to extending its ban beyond convictions and restraining orders that trigger federal disqualification, California applies looser standards. It authorizes courts to prohibit defendants from possessing firearms when they have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, even before conviction. Similarly, the subject of an ex parte restraining order loses his rights under the Second Amendment even before he has the opportunity to challenge the charges against him. Federal law, on the other hand, requires conviction or order issued after hearing which [the respondent] received a valid notification in which such a person has had the opportunity to participate. “
Extensive disqualifications such as California’s goal of preventing abusers from acquiring firearms. But the freer the criteria for assessing someone dangerous and the weaker the evidence required, the more likely people are to lose their constitutional rights, even though they are not really a threat – the same main question raised by “red flag” laws, which allow orders to confiscate weapons, which usually last one year. In this context, Republicans are more concerned about the proper process than Democrats, which is a reversal of the usual guerrilla model.
Senate Minority Whip Minority John Tun (R – SD) told times “Many of our members are ‘concerned to ensure that there is a stable and proper process’.” According to timesRepublican senators “raised the question of whether the provision should be retroactive or whether someone who is prohibited from purchasing a weapon under the measure, especially because of an infringement, should be able to appeal [i.e., seek restoration of his gun rights]”And how long they have to wait before they can do it.”
The extension of the federal ban will not have retroactive effect in the sense that people can be punished for possession of weapons before the law comes into force. But if we assume that the legislation is similar to the existing legislation, any owner of a weapon with a disqualifying criminal record will face up to 10 years in prison if he does not surrender or transfer his firearms and this disqualification will continue indefinitely.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence obscures the last point. The organization insists that “closing the boyfriend’s door” would swimming “Permanent restriction of arms rights”, as “convicted abusers can obtain the restoration of their arms rights by deleting or deleting their records, obtaining pardon or restoring their civil rights”. These are the same rare conditions that apply to people with criminal records. In practice, unless the bill includes a time limit, we are talking about a life ban, which is difficult to justify even for perpetrators who have not committed new crimes for decades, let alone for people whose violations do not suggest they are prone to violence.
CNN he says “The National Weapons Association and other firearms groups have long opposed the closure of the ‘boyfriend’s door’, presenting it as an attempt by Democrats to push through a gun control program.” Last week the NRA said he opposes “initiatives that abolish the protection of the constitutionally due process and efforts to deprive law-abiding citizens of their fundamental right to protect themselves and their loved ones in this or any other legislation.”
Although CNN suggests that only nonsense would raise such concerns, they are appropriate whenever the government aims to promote public safety by taking away people’s rights. While Republicans are hardly consistent defenders of the proper process, this debate shows that the same is true for Democrats.