Skip to comments.Lawyer urges easing of gun prohibitions(WV)
Posted on 08/26/2010 5:21:03 AM PDT by marktwain
A Raleigh County attorney and gun rights advocate says he may be able to help restore the right to own guns to those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.
His efforts don't sit well with the leader of a local domestic violence awareness group, however.
Under federal and state law, a person convicted of any felony or a misdemeanor domestic violence crime is prohibited from owning a gun.
Jim Mullins, a lawyer in Beckley, has been running ads in local newspapers offering to help domestic violence offenders overcome that law.
Under the law, it is possible to petition the court to restore the right to own guns, although it isn't easy.
Mullins said some recent federal court decisions have put into question West Virginia's definitions of domestic violence, and could make it easier to talk the courts into restoring someone's right to own guns.
Mullins recently helped restore a Hancock County man's gun rights following a 30-year-old domestic battery charge.
In that case, Mullins said the charge came from an ex-wife. He said the man had not been in trouble since, and his current wife of 29 years told court officials he had shown no signs of violence during their relationship.
"A permanent scarlet letter should not come with a misdemeanor," Mullins said. "If a person has simply committed a misdemeanor assault and battery, they shouldn't lose their rights [to own guns]."
But advocates for victims of domestic violence don't like the idea of restoring gun rights to convicted criminals.
Ellen Allen, director of the Charleston YWCA's Resolve Family Abuse Program, said laws stripping those convicted of domestic violence of their right to own guns were passed to make women safer in their homes.
Allen said the West Virginia Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team found that 26 people were murdered in domestic violence incidents in 2003, the last year for which statistics are available. Of those, 17 were women. Allen said more than half of the women were killed with guns.
"By removing the weapons, you still have the violence, but you don't have the lethality," she said.
Mullins doesn't advocate giving guns back to habitual wife-beaters or those with a clear history of violence. But he doesn't think someone who got in trouble years ago and hasn't been violent since should be barred from owning guns either.
"It really comes down to a case-by-case analysis," he said.
Mullins believes some test cases will end up before the state Supreme Court to help define when someone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor can have their right to own guns restored.
"This is truly a cutting-edge area of the law," he said.
Mullins is founder and current legislative director of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, a lobbying and gun rights advocacy group.
Kanawha County prosecutor Mark Plants said he would oppose efforts to restore gun rights to those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes.
Plants said he staunchly defends gun rights for law-abiding citizens.
"I'm totally against gun regulation," he said. "But these cases involve convicted criminals.
"When you're a convicted criminal, you forfeit some of your rights."
Jim is making headlines again... LOL
FWIW in WV you do not have to end up laying a hand on anyone to wind up with a misdemeanor DV conviction. There's also quite a few folks who 'pled out' prior to Lautenburg because it was easier than going to court, and of course no one could forsee the loss of rights that would come about later.
Finally, if the act committed was egregious enough to warrant loss of RKBA then the perp should be convicted of a felony, not a misdemeanor.
She did her level best to provoke me, to include physical assaults on me, but with God's grace and patience, I absorbed the physical and verbal blows and never lost control.
Now, we live far away from her and my son is healing emotionally and we have our guns, locked away safely.