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Court upholds curb on gun ownership

Associated Press / February 25, 2009
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WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court yesterday affirmed the use of a federal law barring people convicted of domestic violence crimes from owning guns, the first firearms case at the high court since last year's decision in support of gun rights.

The court, in a 7-2 decision, said state laws against battery need not specifically mention domestic violence to fall under the domestic violence gun ban that was enacted in 1996.

It is enough, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her majority opinion, that the victim of such a crime be involved in a domestic relationship with the attacker.

"Firearms and domestic strife are a potentially deadly combination nationwide," Ginsburg said.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia dissented in the case of Randy Edwards Hayes, a West Virginia man whose earlier misdemeanor conviction for beating his wife gave rise to a federal felony indictment for gun possession.

The federal government, gun control groups, and women's rights advocates worried that a ruling for Hayes would have weakened the federal law because about half the states, including West Virginia, do not have specific misdemeanor domestic violence laws.

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