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Abstract

The Lautenberg Amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed in 1996 with the purpose of preventing gun-related domestic violence. The Lautenberg Amendment's passage raises unique commerce clause issues, and the amendment is possibly unconstitutional. Part I of the article examines the Commerce Clause (and Tenth Amendment) challenges to the Lautenberg Amendment. It provides the history of cases thus far failing to successfully challenge the constitutionality of the Lautenberg Amendment. It then discusses the Supreme Court's decision in Morrison v. Olson, that struck down the civil remedies provision of the Violence Against Women Act as a violation of the Commerce Clause. Applying the Morrison rationale to the Lautenberg Amendment, this article concludes that Congress may have violated its Commerce Clause authority by passing Lautenberg Amendment. Part II examines the Due Process Clause challenge to the Lautenberg Amendment, discussing case law representing both sides of the issue. Part III analyzes the Ex Post Facto Clause challenge to the constitutionality of the Lautenberg Amendment. Part IV provides the history of cases raising an Equal Protection Clause challenge to the Lautenberg Amendment. This article concludes that to successfully reduce domestic violence incidents involving firearms, Congress needs to reexamine and rework the amendment. Even if it is constitutional, Congress needs to provide further guidance in how the Amendment should be implemented. Congress also needs to increase public awareness of the amendment or it will fail to achieve its intended goals.

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