Just after a weekend where a mother who was a fierce gun advocacy type shot her two daughters before being shot by police, we received word that the United States Supreme Court ruled that domestic abusers do not have the right to own guns.
This is progress, but not without dissent; specifically, dissent from Justice Clarence Thomas, who is always there to defend those who least need defending.
At-issue in Voisine v. United States is a technical question of whether two men with convictions for “reckless” domestic assault fall under a federal law prohibiting people convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” from possessing a firearm. The law prohibiting domestic abusers from possessing firearms wasn’t the question under discussion — instead, the question was how far that law reached over certain states’ differing domestic assault laws.
Justice Thomas, however, was very concerned in arguments about the broader law that domestic abusers at large can’t have guns — breaking 10 years of silence on the Court to complain at arguments in February.
“Give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right,” he asked, later suggesting that the particular domestic abusers in this case shouldn’t lose their ability to carry guns because they’ve never actually “use[d] a weapon against a family member.”
Shorter Clarence Thomas: Domestic violence is no big deal when compared to losing your right to kill your spouse, or your children, or whoever made you angry at that moment in that day where you decided you needed your gun to handle things.
Let's go back to that Texas situation this weekend. Here is what we know. The marriage had been in trouble. The couple had separated, and only recently reconciled.. The daughters were the apple of their father's eye. Police had been out to their house on numerous occasions. It was the father's birthday.
This isn't a perfect analogy because women are less likely to receive convictions for domestic abuse, and in this Texas case, there was nothing apparently on the books to suggest the mother had even been arrested for it. But play the scenario out for a minute and imagine what the outcome might have been if she had been convicted and then turned her gun on her daughters that way?
Justice Clarence Thomas fancies himself the keeper of the originalist flame. I get that. But to sit in that seat and argue passionately that domestic abusers shouldn't lose their right to a weapon because they didn't turn it on a family member is just ridiculous on its face.