Federal Judge in Lexington Strikes Down Ban on Gun Possession for Domestic Violence Subjects in Kentucky

Lexington, Ky.–A federal judge in Kentucky has struck down a law that banned subjects of domestic violence orders from purchasing or possessing firearms. The ruling, made by U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves on February 2nd, resulted in the dismissal of a charge against Sherman Combs of Cynthia who was accused of being in possession of a firearm, a .357 Magnum revolver, after a protective order was issued to his wife last June.

In his ruling, Judge Reeves stated that the federal statute violates the Second Amendment, which protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. He also referred to a U.S. Supreme Court decision from last year, which stated that a gun control law can only be valid if it aligns with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.

Advocates for victims of domestic violence have expressed concern over the ruling, pointing out that research and data show that access to firearms by individuals who commit domestic violence increases the risk of harm by 1,000%. Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, whose office handles nearly 4,000 domestic violence cases a year, called the ruling “a disservice to victims and public safety” in an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The decision by Judge Reeves was based on the Supreme Court ruling in a case brought by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, which stated that the right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense is deeply rooted in history and cannot be restricted without a tradition of such regulation in U.S. history. The decision is only binding in the Eastern District of Kentucky but can be cited elsewhere.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Lexington has filed a notice of appeal against the ruling. In addition to the indictment for possessing a firearm, Combs was also charged with falsely telling a licensed dealer that he was not subject to a protective order, and Judge Reeves ruled that this charge can stand.

Reeves was first appointed to the bench by George W Bush in December 2001. Reeves is listed as a contributor to the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative legal scholars.