BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — By next year, there may be tighter federal restrictions on who can own guns; the United States Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of a federal law from 1994, which bans those accused of domestic violence from possessing firearms.
Reports say the Court is leaning towards such a federal regulation in United States v. Rahimi.
The court has a conservative majority, and, just last year, actually expanded gun rights, not only ruling the right to bear arms applies outside of one’s home, but also stating restrictions on firearms need historical precedent. This resulted in lower courts striking down on more than a dozen restriction laws.
The subject of the case is Zackey Rahimi, a Texas man who was arrested for owning guns while he was under a domestic violence restraining order. Rahimi cited his Second Amendment right to bear arms but eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison. He remains jailed in Texas on other charges.
Rahimi’s case was reheard by a New Orleans Court of Appeals, which sided with Rahimi, following that 2022 Supreme Court ruling. But the New Orleans decision went against a 1994 ban on firearms for those in Rahimi’s shoes.
It’s now up to the Supreme Court whether to reverse that ruling, though a ruling is not expected until next summer.
“The legislature can make judgments to disarm people consistently with the Second Amendment based on dangerousness,” said Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Bakersfield residents shared their thoughts on how the highest U.S. Court should move forward.
“Because they’re already accused of domestic violence, and if they continue to go forward, they will hurt somebody,” said Amber Millwood. “So, no.”
“Who owns the guns is a big part of it. It’s also it’s so easy to obtain them is part of the problem,” added another local, Bob Goon. Goon said he has experience selling handguns at a store and that he believes a “cooling off period” has proven useful.
“The cooling off period, one of the things it’s specifically supposed to solve is domestic violence issues, that you can’t go buy a gun and go home and shoot your spouse,” Goon said.
Both District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer and Sheriff Donny Youngblood were unavailable for an interview.
The Bakersfield Police Department did not provide statistics more specific to this report by the time of this article’s publication, but has previously told 17 News there were over 8,000 domestic calls as of September; 668 misdemeanor domestic violence arrest charges and 377 felony domestic violence arrests.
17 News has counted four domestic violence homicides this year in Kern County, three of which were fatal shootings.
As for local politicians, according to the Federal Election Commission, Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy has received nearly $40,000 from the National Rifle Association since he was first elected to Congress in 2006.
Hanford Congressman David Valadao has received more than $30,000.
McCarthy did not respond to request for comment, but a spokesperson for Valadao gave 17 News the following statement via email.
“Rep. Valadao believes it is imperative to provide victims of physical abuse and stalking with protection without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. Rep. Valadao voted in support of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2022, which included changes to federal law meant to prevent and address threats of firearms violence against domestic partners.”
17 News had asked the representative where he stands on the current Supreme Court case, and whether financial donations from the NRA would impact how he votes on gun legislation.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement, “Gun safety laws save lives… and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers is consistent with longstanding historical tradition and the Second Amendment.”
Newsom’s news release added California is ranked first in the nation for gun safety.
According to the Giffords Law Center, a gun control advocacy group, each year, more than 600 women in the U.S. are shot and killed by intimate partners, meaning about one every 14 hours.