St. Mary's Law Journal


Immediate action is critical to preserve the goals of the Lautenberg Amendment to protect victims of domestic violence from future abuse and their abusers. Incidents of gun-related domestic violence are not uncommon in the United States. Statistics show that domestic violence takes one life every three days and the combination of guns and domestic violence cause more deaths than incidents which are not associated with guns. In 1996, Congress attempted to find a solution to this problem. The Lautenberg Amendment, enacted pursuant to Congress’ Commerce Clause power, seeks to protect individuals from gun related injury or death occurring within domestic relationships. Despite its noble goals, the Amendment has come under heavy criticism and legislative attack. Some critics have argued that application of the Amendment would be complicated by inconsistencies among states of what constitutes a misdemeanor offense of domestic violence. Others question the constitutional soundness of the Amendment itself. During Congress’ 105th legislative session, several bills were proposed which favored at least a partial repeal of the Amendment and one bill, H.R 1009, demanded that the bill be repealed entirely. Addressing this at the federal level would include cooperative federalism; this would set a national standard that state authorities may qualify to administer and enforce. States should also enact regulations to the same effect as the Lautenberg Amendment, which is granted by the states’ police power implicit in the Tenth Amendment. Whether the solution to prevent future deaths caused by gun-related domestic violence is created by Congress or the states, a solution which embodies the aims of the Lautenberg Amendment may likely save victims of domestic violence.


St. Mary's University School of Law