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Supreme Court upholds gun ownership ban for domestic abusers – NBC4 Washington
Supreme Court upholds gun ownership ban for domestic abusers – NBC4 Washington

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a federal law that prohibits people facing a domestic violence restraining order from owning firearms.

In an 8-1 decision, the justices ruled that a person deemed by a court to be a credible threat to another person’s physical safety can be temporarily disarmed under the Second Amendment. The decision in favor of a 1994 law overturned a ruling by the federal appeals court in New Orleans that had struck down the law.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said: “Since its inception, our nation’s gun laws have included provisions designed to prevent people who threaten physical violence against others from misusing firearms. Applied to the facts of this case, Section 922(g)(8) fits comfortably into that tradition.”

The only dissenter was Judge Clarence Thomas.

The case involves a Texas man, Zackey Rahimi, who was accused of hitting his girlfriend during an argument in a parking lot and later threatening to shoot her if she told anyone about the attack. The girlfriend obtained a restraining order against him in Tarrant County in February 2020.

Eleven months later, Rahimi was suspected of being involved in a shooting when police searched his home and found weapons. He eventually pleaded guilty to violating federal law. The federal appeals court in New Orleans overturned that ruling when it invalidated the law following the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision in June 2022. That Supreme Court ruling not only expanded Americans’ constitutional gun rights, but also changed the way courts are supposed to evaluate firearm restrictions.

The Biden administration appealed.

During oral arguments earlier this year, Justice Elena Kagan noted that “there seems to be quite a bit of disagreement and confusion about what Bruen means and what Bruen is asking the lower courts to do.” That’s because Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion, rejected the balancing test that judges had long used to decide whether gun laws are constitutional. Instead of considering whether a law increases public safety, judges should only weigh whether it fits into the country’s history of gun regulation, Thomas wrote for the nine-member court’s six conservative justices.

The Bruen ruling resulted in more than a dozen laws being struck down by lower courts, including age restrictions, bans on homemade ghost guns that do not have serial numbers, and prohibitions on gun ownership for people convicted of nonviolent crimes or illegal drug use.

Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar defended the domestic violence law, arguing that the ban fits into a long tradition of disarming people deemed a danger to society, and urged the justices to use this case to correct the “serious misinterpretation” of the decision by lower courts.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh expressed concern that a ruling in Rahimi’s favor could also jeopardize the background check system. According to the Democratic administration, more than 75,000 gun sales have been stopped over the past 25 years due to domestic violence protection orders.

Rahimi remains in prison in Texas, where he faces additional criminal charges. In a letter he wrote from prison last summer after the Supreme Court agreed to hear his case, Rahimi said he would “stay away from all firearms and weapons” after his release. The New York Times first reported the existence of the letter.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearms were used in 57% of killings of spouses, domestic partners, children or relatives in 2020. On average, 70 women are shot by their domestic partners each month, according to the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety.

By Everly