Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman has neither been charged with nor convicted of any crime; yet a few days ago he was stripped of his Second Amendment rights.
Ditto for Steve Berman Jr.
The mayor obeyed a Maricopa County Superior Court order and turned his guns over to the Gilbert Police Department.
A court officer ordered father and son to relinquish their guns in issuing an order of protection that was requested by Berman’s wife, Michelle.
Michelle Berman told the court that the mayor “has continuously threatened harm against myself and my family members.”
She said that Steve Berman Jr. “has shown me that he hates me and I am fearful for my safety and the safety of my daughters.”
The form for requesting the order of protection provides a check box for petitioners to request that the court orders the defendant not to possess firearms or ammunition.
The order of protection form also contains standard language and a check box for the court officer to signify that the defendant “poses a credible threat of bodily injury” and therefore must surrender any firearms in his or her possession.
There was no pre-order hearing.
The court officer took Michelle Berman’s word for it and with the stroke of a pen Berman lost his constitutional rights to possess firearms for self-defense.
The court’s authority in these matters stems from the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. The gun ban portion of the law in protective order cases was upheld by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2001, overturning a federal district court. The lower court had held the law violated Second Amendment rights.
The circuit court ruled in United States v. Emerson that the “Second Amendment does protect individual rights.” Yet, “that does not mean that those rights may never be made subject to any limited, narrowly tailored specific expectations.”
The allegations against the senior Berman are serious ones. According to a police report he admitted that he punched a hole in the wall in connection with an argument he had with her. He also has a history of domestic issues with past wives that suggest he has a problem with controlling his temper.
But there is no indication in Michelle Berman’s statement that a firearm has been involved in these disputes.
Berman Junior presents a more intriguing case.
Michelle said that he acted menacingly and bumped into her and accused her of killing his cat. She fears him and wants him to be prohibited from contacting her or approaching her.
Fair enough. But is that enough to deprive him of his Second Amendment right to possess firearms for self-defense?
That seems a stretch to us.
The issue has never made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. But in light of the high court’s landmark affirmation this summer of Second Amendment firearm possession rights, it should.