Supreme Court Will Consider Right Of Domestic Abusers to Own Firearms

Second Amendment

After a whirlwind end to its current term, the Supreme Court agreed on Friday to take on a major Second Amendment case that will determine the constitutionality of a federal law preventing domestic abusers from owning guns.

The case will allow the court to refine the new legal standard established in last year’s New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which mandated that government firearm regulations must be “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” as Justice Clarence Thomas put it in his majority decision. As a result of that decision, The New York Times reported that gun historians “are in demand like never before,” as lawyers struggle to assemble evidence to meet Bruen’s “historical tradition” test.

United States v. Rahimi comes out of the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which in February overturned a 1996 law that banned anyone with a restraining order for domestic violence from possessing a firearm. The court had upheld the same law less than three years prior, but President Donald Trump appointed an arch-conservative, Cory Wilson, to the bench in the interim. As The New York Times noted Friday, Wilson said in a 2015 NRA questionnaire that he “opposed both background checks on private gun sales and state licensing requirements for potential gun owners.” Wilson wrote the opinion and cited Bruen as the reason for the Fifth Circuit’s about-face.

The specific case concerns a drug dealer named Zackey Rahimi, who assaulted his girlfriend and threatened to shoot her in 2019, prompting her to obtain a restraining order, which suspended Rahimi’s gun license. Subsequently, Rahimi fired guns in public multiple times, leading to a search of his home that uncovered illegally held weapons. The Fifth Circuit originally affirmed Rahimi’s conviction under the 1996 federal law, but reversed course after Bruen. In his opinion, Wilson wrote that “our ancestors would never have accepted” the domestic violence law.

The Biden administration quickly appealed the Fifth Circuit’s shocking decision, which legal commentator Linda Greenhouse wrote “can charitably be described as nuts, and accurately as pernicious.” “The very concept of domestic violence was alien to the Constitution’s framers because wives were completely subordinate to their husbands and wife beating was widely tolerated,” Greenhouse added.

According to CDC numbers, more than 11,000 women were killed with a gun over the four years between 2015 and 2019. One 2016 study found that an intimate partner had fired at 1 million women, and 4.5 million had been threatened with a gun.

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