A federal judge in Ky. ruled gun bans for people with violence orders unconstitutional

A federal judge in Ky. ruled gun bans for people with violence orders unconstitutional

A federal judge in Lexington issued an opinion that a federal law banning gun owners if they have a domestic violence order against them is unconstitutional.

The case is one of a series of cases making their way through the federal court system in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that expanded gun rights.

In an order filed Feb. 2 in the Eastern District of Kentucky, Chief U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves dismissed a federal charge against a Harrison County man, Sherman Combs, who was in possession of a handgun while under a domestic violence order.

Combs still faces a second federal indictment accusing him of lying to a firearms dealer about whether he had a DVO when he bought the gun in Georgetown three days after the order was issued.

The decision to dismiss the charges against Combs was based on a 2022 Supreme Court decision New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. BruenWhere the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that required citizens to show a special need to carry a weapon in public.

rule Courts have changed the way they evaluate the legality of restrictions on gun ownership.

In deciding that case, the Supreme Court found that when courts are evaluating challenges to gun laws, they must first ask whether the conduct being regulated is covered by the text of the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms. If so, they must consider whether the regulation aligns with the country’s historical tradition of gun control.

In dismissing the possession charge against Combs, Reeves found that he had not been shown a “comparable historical analog” to laws prohibiting the possession of guns by people who have domestic violence orders against them.

Combs’ attorney, Thomas Lyons, said that while Combs was “pleased that the charges were dismissed,” the ruling “should not be viewed as an endorsement of people having guns when they have a domestic violence order.”

“Judge Reeves is bound by his oath of office to render justice impartially and to follow the law enunciated by the Supreme Court,” Lyons said in an email. “That is the essence of the rule of law. I am confident that Judge Reeves took that oath seriously.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting Combs, did not comment on the judge’s order.

U.S. Attorney Carlton Scheer intends to appeal, according to Fourth Circuit court documents.

A The High Court issued a similar opinion Reeves issued his order the same day.

In that case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, ruled unconstitutional a law prohibiting people from possessing firearms under domestic violence orders.

Three judges in that case Also mentions Bruin’s decisionSays the 1994 law’s “ban on firearms is an ‘outlier that our forefathers would never have accepted’.”

Some advocates for victims of domestic violence are concerned about the ruling.

“It’s disappointing, especially given the recent spate of domestic violence and gun deaths in Lexington,” Fayette County Attorney Angela Evans said. “It is detrimental to the victims. It is detrimental to the community.”

He said knowing that their partner would not be allowed to own a gun for a DVO was “probably something that was comforting to people” and that he thought the rulings would “cause a lot of hesitation” among victims to consider filing for an order.

“What has this law prevented from happening? I’m not sure, but I’m worried we might find out,” Evans said.

“As someone who works for a domestic violence shelter, we obviously feel strongly about people at DVO against keeping their firearms,” ​​said Veronica Christian, a family advocate at Greenhouse 17.

Allowing people under domestic violence orders to keep guns seems like “giving a dangerous person another way to be dangerous.”

State court documents indicate Combs’ wife sought and was granted a domestic violence order against Combs, 50, on June 15 in Harrison District Court.

According to federal court documents, on June 18, Combs purchased a .357 Magnum revolver in Scott County, representing to the dealer that “he is not subject to a court order restraining him from harassing, stalking or threatening any intimate partner or child. Partner.”

He texted his partner five times on June 25 and 26 in breach of the DVO. When a sheriff’s deputy came to arrest him in Cynthiana the next day, Combs had a revolver in a holster on his hip, court documents said.

Although Combs’ gun possession charges were dismissed, he still faces federal charges alleging he lied to a firearms dealer. A pretrial conference is scheduled for Feb. 15

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