U.S. Supreme Court allows gun restrictions for domestic violence suspects

U.S. Supreme Court allows gun restrictions for domestic violence suspects
4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago Friday, June 21 2024 Jun 21, 2024 June 21, 2024 10:56 AM June 21, 2024 in News - AP National
Source: https://www.texastribune.org/
The United States Supreme Court is seen on May 18, 2024 in Washington, D.C.. Credit: Eli Hartman/The Texas Tribune

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In a 8-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a major gun rights case Friday that protective orders can bar people accused of domestic violence from owning firearms. Zackey Rahimi, a Texas man, unsuccessfully claimed it’s unconstitutional to restrict people under domestic violence protective orders from accessing firearms.

“Since the Founding, the Nation’s firearm laws have included regulations to stop individuals who threaten physical harm to others from misusing firearms,” the court’s majority opinion read.

The case was the high court’s first major firearms ruling since a 2022 decision that established a new standard for determining if gun regulations are constitutional. Friday’s ruling overturned the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that found the Second Amendment protects domestic abusers’ right to firearms.

Justice Clarence Thomas was the sole dissenter.

The high court’s decision provided some additional context for interpreting the new test for firearm regulations. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s opinion that the 2022 decision, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, already explained some firearm restrictions are lawful under the Second Amendment if they fall within the “historical tradition of firearm regulation.” He added it is the government’s responsibility to justify regulation of gun restrictions that fall within this historical tradition.


The 2024 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows the government to bar domestic violence suspects from accessing firearms.

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In Friday’s ruling, Roberts suggested other courts misunderstood the methodology behind Bruen.

“These precedents were not meant to suggest a law trapped in amber,” the chief justice wrote.

The high court said the 5th Circuit erred in interpreting Bruen to require firearm regulations that have a “historical twin,” rather than a “historical analogue.”

Attempting to clarify Bruen, Friday’s opinion said the Second Amendment guarantees access to modern-day weapons not in existence at the nation’s founding.

“By that same logic, the Second Amendment permits more than just regulations identical to those existing in 1791,” Roberts wrote.

Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Brett Kavanaugh, Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Elena Kagan signed on to Sotomayor’s concurring opinion.

In his dissent, Thomas wrote that not a single historical regulation justifies restricting guns from domestic abuse suspects.

Advocates for victims of domestic violence have closely watched the case, hoping the high court would preserve protections that bar people accused of domestic violence from possessing guns. They estimate that the risk of homicide in domestic violence incidents increases by as much as 500% with the presence of a gun.

Rahimi was accused of five shootings around Arlington within the span of a month during the winter of 2020, according to court documents. Those incidents included shooting at a constable’s car and firing a weapon into the air outside a Whataburger after his friend’s credit card was declined. Prior to the shootings, a state court issued a protective order against Rahimi in February 2020 after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. Rahimi was charged by a federal grand jury for possession of a firearm while under a domestic violence protective order.

Rahimi argued in court that the charge violated his constitutional rights, and the courts initially disagreed. But in the wake of the landmark Bruen decision, in which the Supreme Court established a new standard that modern gun control laws must be “consistent with the Second Amendment’s text and historical understanding,” Rahimi’s case was reheard and the 5th Circuit ruled in his favor.

The appeals court argued that while Rahimi was not a model citizen, he is entitled to Second Amendment protections.

Domestic violence in Texas has continued a steady increase in recent years, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence. Between 2018 and 2022, reported incidents of family violence have increased 33% and the number of women killed by an intimate partner has nearly doubled. In 2022, intimate partners killed 129 women in Texas by firearm, TCFV reported.

TCFV’s review of family violence in 2022 found that the number of family violence offenses reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety increased 10% in 2022 to 254,339 compared to 231,207 in 2021.

Just in: Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming; U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pennsylvania; and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt will take the stage at The Texas Tribune Festival, Sept. 5–7 in downtown Austin. Buy tickets today!

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/06/21/supreme-court-guns-domestic-violence-rahimi/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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