Supreme Court Ruling on Gun Ownership Raises Concerns for Domestic Violence Survivors

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Written By Lori Walker

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Domestic abusers with protection orders are supposed to be barred from owning guns under federal law, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in a June 21, 2024 ruling.

However, survivors of domestic violence still face challenges in removing guns from abusers during the Emergency Order of Protection process. This can be a critical and dangerous moment for victims, but there’s uncertainty among judges about their authority to seize guns at this stage.

China Mitchell sought court protection in October 2022 against her ex-boyfriend, Louie Foster, who she accused of abuse. Despite obtaining an Emergency Order of Protection, she felt it wasn’t enough to keep her safe, according to her friend Pauline McQueen.

Mitchell also requested a warrant to seize Foster’s guns, citing his violent history and threats. However, the judge did not grant the warrant, and Mitchell’s request was seemingly ignored during the hearing, which legal experts like Benna Crawford find deeply concerning.

Tragically, Mitchell was fatally shot by Foster in January 2024, becoming another victim of domestic violence despite her efforts to seek legal protection. She was remembered as a caring person and dedicated mother by her loved ones.

Her death has highlighted systemic issues: despite thousands of emergency protection orders issued, very few gun seizure warrants are granted, leaving many vulnerable to harm.

Mitchell’s parents now care for her three children and continue to mourn her loss. They, along with advocates, are urging lawmakers to pass legislation like “Karina’s bill,” named after another victim of domestic violence, which aims to address these gaps in protection for survivors.

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