People who are convicted of domestic violence charges -- even misdemeanors -- forfeit their rights to own guns, the Supreme Court affirmed in a ruling closely watched by advocates on both sides of the gun control debate.
With the June 27 decision, the highest court reaffirmed a lower federal court's ruling and rejected the argument that people convicted of lower-level domestic abuse, or unintentionally violent behavior, should be permitted to own guns.
The case was pressed on behalf of Stephen Voisine and William Armstrong, two men from Maine. Voisine and Armstrong's attorneys argued that the ban only applied to offenders who intentionally inflicted violence, saying the ban violates their constitutional rights to bear arms, according to The Associated Press.
The case was also notable because it marked the first time in 10 years that Justice Clarence Thomas asked questions from the bench, AP reported. Thomas asked the questions less than a month after his fellow jurist, friend and ideological ally, Antonin Scalia, died unexpectedly. Scalia's seat on the court remains vacant as senate Republicans and President Barack Obama remain locked in a battle over nominations.
The court's decision was applauded by gun rights groups. Domestic violence incidents involving guns are 12 times more likely to result in death for the victim than similar incidents in which the perpetrator isn't armed, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
"Thank you, SCOTUS, for also ruling to keep guns out of hands of those convicted of domestic violence," tweeted Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.