MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Cottage Grove man is fighting to get a concealed carry permit after the state denied him because he’s been convicted of domestic violence.
If 68-year-old Robert W. Evans Jr. prevails, it could clear the way for those with certain domestic violence convictions to legally carry hidden guns, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
He’s the only person to appeal of 5,800 people whose concealed-carry permit applications were rejected. Wisconsin has issued nearly 200,000 permits to carry concealed firearms since Act 35 took effect in late 2011.
Congress in 1996 banned people convicted of domestic violence from possessing guns, and some gun rights advocates have challenged the reach of the so-called Lautenberg Amendment ever since.
Citing the federal ban, Wisconsin’s Department of Justice denied Evans a permit in April 2012 because he was convicted in 2002 of domestic violence/disorderly conduct.
Evans appealed the denial to circuit court, arguing the offense isn’t a misdemeanor crime of violence under federal law and he didn’t have a domestic relationship with the victim, his 36-year-old stepdaughter — under the federal definition.
A Dane County judge upheld the DOJ’s decision. Evans has now taken the case to the Court of Appeals.
In a brief, Evans’ attorney argues the stepdaughter was an adult when Evans married her mother, and so he never had a parental relationship with her, and that she was only living with Evans and his wife temporarily. He denied ever punching the woman, admitting when he entered a no-contest plea only to pushing her out a door.
Evans has no other criminal record.
The federal law prohibits gun possession by anyone convicted of a misdemeanor that “has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.”
Evans argues that “the offense of conviction, the legal definition of the crime, is the focus of the analysis. The conduct of the defendant in committing the crime is irrelevant.”
Wisconsin defines disorderly conduct as “violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance.”
The state argues in its brief that Wisconsin’s disorderly conduct offense does include an element of physical force, and that Evans and his adult stepdaughter did have a domestic relationship under the federal definition.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com