The provisions of the Lautenberg Amendment have been challenged on three primary grounds. First, opponents of the law maintain that it violates the Commerce Clause by classifying as a federal offense activity that does not have an effect on interstate commerce as required by the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v.
Lopez. It has also been argued that the law violates the Equal Protection Clause by punishing domestic violence misdemeanors more harshly than other misdemeanor offenses, by punishing misdemeanor but not felony offenses, and by excluding law
enforcement officers convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses from the public interest exception of 18 U.S.C. §925(a)(1). Furthermore, the law has been attacked as a violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause on the basis that it prohibits the possession of a firearm by a domestic violence misdemeanant even if the predicate offense occurred prior to its enactment.
Reviewing courts have rejected these challenges to the Lautenberg Amendment, determining that its provisions fall within acceptable constitutional parameters. Regarding the Commerce Clause, courts have held that the law contains an express jurisdictional element requiring a finding that the firearm in question was possessed in or affecting commerce, or was received after having been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, obviating the concerns at issue in United States v. Lopez. Equal Protection Clause challenges have been rejected upon the determination that Congress rationally concluded that misdemeanor domestic violence offenders
should not possess firearms. Finally, the courts have held that the law does not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause in that it prohibits post-enactment possession and does not criminalize conduct occurring before its enactment.