Domestic violence is a serious offense pretty much everywhere in the country. In fairness, it probably should be. There’s something very, very wrong with the kind of person who beats up their romantic partner, regardless of the sex of anyone involved. It’s a deep violation of trust and it creates serious problems for the abused.
One of the ramifications of such measures, one few people are talking about repealing, is that domestic violence offenders lose their Second Amendment rights.
However, the cities of North Las Vegas and Henderson, NV are the exception. They may be changing their local ordinances just so that doesn’t happen. While it’s easy to be outraged, there are reasons for them to do so.
Henderson and North Las Vegas have introduced ordinances that would allow them to sidestep a state law requiring domestic abusers to be barred from having guns.
The potential changes come on the heels of a Nevada Supreme Court decision that held defendants in misdemeanor domestic violence cases are entitled to a jury trial. The proposals virtually mirror a proposed measure also introduced by Las Vegas.
Last month, the high court unanimously ruled that, because state law could affect a defendant’s 2nd Amendment rights, the proceedings are serious enough to warrant a jury trial.
Under the cities’ proposed fixes, the municipalities would avoid holding jury trials that they say they are unable to perform by creating a misdemeanor domestic violence offense that doesn’t require people found guilty to give up their firearms.
“I think that our options are limited right now,” said Marc Schifalacqua, Henderson’s senior assistant city attorney for the criminal division.
The options probably are quite limited at the moment.
You see, the state supreme court was right. Someone faced with losing their rights deserves to be tried by a jury of their peers. A judge rendering a verdict isn’t any such thing. We have jury trials in this country as a way to minimize the impact an individual’s bias might have on the process. For example, what if the judge was raised in a home with an abusive father? He may be inclined to automatically assume every man brought before him is guilty because he simply sees his father standing before him.
How is that right?
Well, it’s not, but when someone’s not faced with the real possibility of being deprived of their rights, we shrug and let it go.
Yet with domestic violence, the stakes are raised due to the fact that those who are convicted of it lose their Second Amendment rights, and not just for a few months. They lose them permanently. Something like that should be up to a single person to decide, regardless of how much trust we put in those filling such roles.
Honestly, this is the right call for these communities to make.
Frankly, I’ve always said that if these folks are that dangerous, just make the charge a felony and call it a day. Then they’re faced with being off the streets for a while, as well as not being able to own firearms legally. If the crime doesn’t warrant a felony, then why does it warrant depriving someone of their civil liberty?