Domestic violence is finally being taken more seriously. Yes, US vs. Castleman has shined new light on domestic abuse.
Abusive jerk (i.e. Alvin Castleman) was found guilty of "misdemeanor domestic abuse" against his baby mama back in 2001. In Castleman's state, Tennessee, this prevented him from possessing guns. On a federal level, however, his actions weren't considered "severe" enough to keep guns out of his hands. When he was caught illegally trading guns he took his case to the lovely folks at the Supreme Court. Turns out, they were mighty concerned about the shifting definition of domestic abuse.
The Supreme Court took action by broadening a gun control law for those convicted of domestic violence. It was already illegal for people convicted of domestic violence to possess guns. So, if you have an aggressively brutal ex whose actions were convicted in court—s/he can't own a gun. Though it sounds good, the problem is that some forms of abuse weren't "severe" enough to be considered domestic violence from a legal standpoint. Physical harm needed to be documented.
Using the Supreme Court's example, poisoning your boo's morning coffee wasn't enough to keep you gun-free. Other instances of abuse (like shoving, pulling hair, pushing etc.) were overlooked as well. That is, until Justice Sonia Sotomayor made all ladyfolk proud when she pointed out that the word "violence" often makes us think of the extreme, but in reality it can be something smaller—hair pulling, for instance.
As of now, the definition of domestic abuse is broadened to include actions that, though terrible, require less force. This means that if someone is found guilty of comitting any form of domestic violence in a court of law, s/he will be forbidden to possess guns.
Over one million women can sleep soundly now knowing that the law has their backs.
Perhaps this will bring some peace to the family of Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot by her Paralympic champion beau Oscar Pistorius last year. New evidence shows that there were a few storms a'brewing in that seemingly sweet relationship. Reeva, passionate about women's rights, may have missed some red flags from Pistorius indicating that he was violent. In the US, a woman is abused every nine seconds but most of these instances go undreported. With this newly broadened definition of "domestic violence," we may have given countless women another chance.
Image: love shouldn't hurt. Courtesy of Zorah Olivia, Flickr