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Supreme Court Reinforces Protection for Domestic Violence Victims with Gun Ownership Ban

Supreme Court Reinforces Protection for Domestic Violence Victims with Gun Ownership Ban
Supreme Court Reinforces Protection for Domestic Violence Victims with Gun Ownership Ban

On Friday, the Supreme Court upheld a 1994 federal law that stops people with restraining orders for domestic violence from having guns. This is their first ruling on gun rights since expanding them in 2022.

The justices voted 8-1 to support the law, overturning a previous decision by a lower court. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said the law makes sense and is used only when a judge decides someone is a real threat of violence.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who authored the major 2022 Bruen ruling, dissented. President Joe Biden, who has previously criticized the Court’s rulings on guns and other issues, praised the decision, emphasizing that survivors of domestic violence should not have to fear their abusers having access to guns.

Last week, the Court overturned a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, arguing that the Justice Department overstepped its authority. This highlights the Court’s ongoing engagement with gun control regulations and their broader implications.

The case originated from the Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen decision. A Texas man, Zackey Rahimi, was involved in domestic violence incidents and threatened his girlfriend with a firearm.

Supreme Court Reinforces Protection for Domestic Violence Victims with Gun Ownership Ban

Supreme Court Reinforces Protection for Domestic Violence Victims with Gun Ownership Ban

During the November arguments, justices expressed concerns that ruling in favor of Rahimi might undermine the background check system, which has prevented numerous gun sales to individuals under domestic violence protective orders. This case also has broader implications for other gun ownership laws, including those involving high-profile individuals like Hunter Biden.

The decision not to strike down the domestic violence gun law signals the Court’s current stance on such regulations but does not necessarily predict future rulings on other gun laws.

Many of these cases stem from the Bruen decision, which altered the way courts evaluate firearms restrictions. Chief Justice Roberts, in his opinion, emphasized the historical context of firearm laws designed to prevent harm, indicating that some courts have misapplied precedents like Bruen.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, argued that the law lacks due process and fails to align with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. His perspective contrasts with that of other justices who believe in a more flexible historical interpretation.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor supported Roberts’ view, suggesting it offers a balanced historical inquiry. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, acknowledging the evolving nature of Second Amendment jurisprudence, indicated that more cases on gun rights are likely to come.

Rahimi’s case reached the Supreme Court after an appeals court initially upheld his conviction for possessing guns while under a restraining order, then reversed its decision post-Bruen. Despite Rahimi’s involvement in multiple shootings and admissions of gun possession, the appeals court ruled the law couldn’t be justified by historical precedent alone.

This ruling was reversed by the Supreme Court, reaffirming the law’s constitutionality and the Justice Department’s authority to enforce it.

Advocates for domestic violence victims welcomed the decision, noting the high rate of gun-related domestic homicides and emphasizing the importance of such protective measures. Gun rights groups, however, supported Rahimi, arguing against the historical justification for the gun ban.

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