Supreme Court Agrees to Take Up Domestic-Violence Gun Laws

June 30, 2023

As the Supreme Court was wrapping its 2022-2023 term, it agreed to weigh in on the legality of gun restrictions on domestic violence offenders during its next term. 

At issue is the Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen, which challenged a law requiring that one reveal a special need for self-protection to receive an unrestricted license to carry a concealed firearm outside the home. 

In 2022 the Supreme Court struck the law down, concluding that it violated the Second Amendment as well as the 14th Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.

Since the Bruen ruling, numerous gun laws have been struck down in courts across the country, and earlier this year, citing Bruen, a unanimous panel on the 5th Circuit struck down a federal gun regulation preventing domestic abusers from possessing firearms. Their argument was that it was unconstitutional since the founding generation had no similar prohibition.

That court’s decision came from the appeal of Zackey Rahimi, who had been prosecuted in 2020 for possessing firearms after being slapped with a protective order because of a violent altercation with his girlfriend.

The federal government is challenging 5th Circuit’s ruling. 

“This [Supreme] Court should grant review so that it can correct the Fifth Circuit’s misinterpretation of Bruen,” U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote earlier this month in the government’s petition, saying that the 5th Circuit’s decision “threatens grave harms for victims of domestic violence.”

In taking up the case, the Supreme Court is going against the wishes of Rahimi’s lawyers, who requested that the Court refrain from taking a new look at the Bruen decision for now, citing that their own ruling is “less than a year old” and lower courts are “just beginning to grapple” with its aftereffects.

Roughly two-thirds of women killed by an intimate partner are killed with a gun, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. In addition, an average of 70 women are shot and killed every month by an intimate partner and up to one-fifth of violent deaths of intimate partners also involve deaths of children or other family members.

The Supreme Court’s next term will begin, as usual, on the first Monday in October—which is the second day of the month this year.

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