Supreme Court upholds federal ban on domestic abusers possessing guns – National & International News – FRI 21Jun2024

Supreme Court upholds federal ban on domestic abusers possessing guns

In an 8-1 decisions (with only Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting) the Supreme Court has upheld a federal law that bars anyone under a domestic violence restraining order from possessing a gun. Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, wrote in the majority opinion that it was “common sense” to keep guns out of the hands of anyone who “poses a clear threat of physical violence to another”.

Many had feared that the court, which has largely interpreted the 2nd Amendment as proscribing most forms of gun control, would do away with this crucial protection for those experiencing domestic violence. However, as Roberts wrote, “Since the founding, the nation’s firearm laws have included regulations to stop individuals who threaten physical harm to others from misusing firearms”.

By using the broader language of threats to “others” or “another”, Roberts’ opinion, in fact, may be interpreted to go even further than the statute in question. The current specifically bars one from possessing a gun in the case that a court has found them to pose a threat to “an intimate partner”.

Victims of domestic violence are particularly vulnerable if a partner possesses a gun. As US Attorney Elizabeth Prelogar told the court in November, “a woman who lives in a house with a domestic abuser is five times more likely to be murdered if he has access to a gun” .

US v. Rahimi

The case was brought by Zackey Rahimi. In December, 2019, Rahimi, a Texas drug dealer, beat up his girlfriend in a parking lot and shot at a witness. He was then placed under a domestic violence restraining order, barring him from contact with his girlfriend and from possessing a gun, in February of 2020.

Rahimi defied these orders multiple times, firstly by showing up at the girlfriend’s house in the middle of the night. He later threatened another woman with a gun. Then, between December 2020 and January 2021, Rahimi was involved in 5 shootings. In the first instance, he fired into the home of a drug customer of his. The following day, he fired multiple times at a driver he was involved in a collision with. Three days later, Rahimi fired a gun into the air in front of children. Some weeks after that, he fired shots when a driver flashed his lights at him. Finally, he fired into the air after a fast food restaurant declined his friend’s credit card.

Police at last searched his home, finding a copy of his domestic violence order as well as multiple guns Rahimi admitted to having possession of in violation of the order. He was arrested and charged for this violation and later filed suit against the federal government, arguing that the ban on domestic abusers possessing firearms was ‘unconstitutional’. Last year, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals voted to overturn the ban.



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