No guns for domestic abuse suspects, Supreme Court rules

Via Lisa Lambert and Sam Cabral, BBC News, Washington

Getty Images Crowd holds signs against domestic violence, Julianne Moore at podium speaking with microphonebeautiful images

Actress Julianne Moore speaks outside court during November arguments

The Supreme Court has ruled that people with restraining orders on suspicion of domestic violence do not have the right to own guns.

The 8-1 decision upheld a 30-year-old law that prohibits people with domestic abuse restraining orders from possessing guns.

A lower court struck down that federal law as inconsistent with the nation’s historic tradition of gun regulation.

Friday’s ruling marks a rare victory for gun restrictions at the high court.

Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the majority opinion, with all but one of his colleagues concurring.

The policy of disarming alleged domestic abusers is consistent with “what common sense dictates,” he wrote.

“When an individual makes an explicit threat of physical violence against another person, the threatening individual may be disarmed,” he said.

Justice Clarence Thomas, arguably the most conservative member of the court, was the lone dissenter.

He wrote that “today’s decision jeopardizes the Second Amendment rights of many others.”

At the center of the case decided Friday was Zackey Rahimi, a Texas man with a history of armed violence against intimate partners and shootings in public places.

In 2020, his then-girlfriend was granted a restraining order after he pulled her into his car, causing her to hit her head on the dashboard, during an argument near his home in Arlington, Texas. He also shot at a bystander who witnessed the assault.

Despite a court order suspending his handgun license and prohibiting him from possessing any firearms, he kept his weapons and was involved in five public shootings later that year .

A petty drug dealer, according to court records, Rahimi is currently serving a six-year sentence in a Texas federal prison after pleading guilty to violating a court order.

Tarrant County Sheriff's Office photo by Zackey RahimiTarrant County Sheriff’s Office

Zackey Rahimi

He is also currently awaiting state charges related to his shooting.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to “keep and bear arms”.

In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court significantly expanded gun rights when it decided the Second Amendment protects a broad right to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense.

It also creates a new test for gun laws, stipulating that they must be rooted in “historical tradition.” Justice Thomas issued that opinion.

Following that decision, Rahimi filed an appeal of his sentence, arguing that it did not pass the Supreme Court’s new test.

In a handwritten letter from prison last year, he also vowed to “stay away from all guns and weapons” after his release.

During the November hearing, Rahimi’s attorney, James Matthew Wright, said he could find no historical precedent for people being disarmed, other than those convicted of felonies — which is not includes the subject of the ban.

But the US government argues that “dangerous” individuals, such as British loyalists during the American Revolutionary War, have been disarmed in the past.

Government lawyers also said women living in a home with an armed domestic abuser are five times more likely to be murdered.

According to the Texas Domestic Violence Council, a nonprofit organization, the number of women killed by an armed partner in Texas has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

Domestic violence survivor recounts being shot by intimate partner

In his opinion on Friday, Justice Roberts wrote: “Since their founding, our Nation’s gun laws have included provisions that deter individuals from threatening physical harm. physically allow another person to use a gun for the wrong purpose.”

“Where a restraining order concludes that an individual poses a credible threat to the physical safety of a sexual partner, that individual may – consistent with the Second Amendment – be prohibited from possessing a firearm .”

He added that “some courts have misunderstood the methodology of our recent Second Amendment cases.” The 2022 precedent, he said, “is not intended to suggest a law trapped in amber.”

Five separate justices wrote concurring opinions, including two liberals — Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson — who argued that blaming confusion “could lies with us” and not with other courts.

Writing the dissent, Justice Thomas argued that “there is no historical justification” for the majority’s ruling.

Many Second Amendment advocates were disappointed by the ruling, but some said it was narrow in scope.

Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, wrote in a post on when the order takes effect”.

“It does not decide whether the government can permanently ban broad classes of people from owning weapons, and it rejects the government’s argument that ‘irresponsible’ people can be banned from owning weapons,” he said. weapon”.

Brady, the nation’s oldest gun control group, hailed the decision as “an important victory for gun violence and domestic violence prevention.”

“The Court has made many mistakes recently and has upheld extreme rulings,” the Court’s chief legal officer, Douglas Letter, said in a statement.

“Yet even this Court understands how reasonable this law is and agrees that its proven methods of preventing gun violence are entirely constitutional.”

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