A Very Interesting Decision On City Domestic Violence Convictions Not Triggering A Federal Prohibition

Two days ago, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a largely overlooked decision in U.S. v. Alexander Pauler, which involved Mr. Pauler’s misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence, pursuant to a municipal ordinance.

Mr. Pauler was previously convicted in 2009 of violating a Wichita, Kansas municipal domestic battery ordinance by punching his girlfriend. As the 10th Circuit declared,

The sole issue before us in this appeal is whether a misdemeanor violation of a municipal ordinance qualifies as a “misdemeanor under . . . State . . . law” when viewed in the context of a statutory scheme that clearly and consistently differentiates between state and local governments and between state statutes and municipal ordinances.

In ruling that Mr. Pauler was not prohibited pursuant to the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. § 921, et seq., and more specifically the Lautenberg amendment, which became 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9), the 10th Circuit refreshingly looked to the actual language of the definition of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” found in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33), which provides, in pertinent part that it must bea misdemeanor under Federal, State, or Tribal law.” In this instance, since Mr. Pauler’s conviction was for a municipal crime of domestic violence and not a state crime of domestic violence, the 10th Circuit ruled that he was not prohibited and therefore his conviction for being a prohibited person in possession must be vacated and overturned. 

If you are being charged with being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) to discuss your options.


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

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