Supreme Court case could impact Congress’ ability to enact future gun laws

November 6, 2023

The Supreme Court on Tuesday is set to hear oral arguments in a case that could limit the ability of Congress and local lawmakers to regulate gun possession.

The case of United States v Rahimi is one of dozens of challenges to federal and state gun laws following the Supreme Court’s decision last year in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen.

In Bruen, the Supreme Court struck down a New York State law requiring that one reveal a special need for self-protection to receive an unrestricted license to carry a concealed firearm outside the home. 

Then in March of this year, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck down a federal law prohibiting firearm possession by individuals under domestic violence restraining orders.

The Supreme Court is now set to hear a new case involving 23-year-old 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.

Rahimi is currently incarcerated in Texas, facing not only multiple gun-related charges, but prosecutors say that after a judge barred Rahimi from carrying weapons under the domestic violence protective order, he participated in a string of five shootings over two months.

The Biden Administration, Congressional lawmakers, and various legal experts have cautioned that if the Supreme Court rules against the domestic violence provision, it could potentially restrict what else Congress can do to address gun violence in the U.S.

A law passed by Congress last year in the wake of mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, along with the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization last year, marked the first federal gun control provisions in years. 

The 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act included among its measures expanding background checks for gun purchasers under age 21 to include records from when they were minors.

Now, lawmakers like Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) are expressing concern that the Supreme Court could rule in U.S. v Rahimi in a way that would be “a big step backwards, and that would make any future progress even less likely.”

Meanwhile, in a handwritten letter from jail, Zackey Rahimi has expressed that he no longer wants to possess guns. 

In his July 25 letter to a local judge and prosecutor, he apologized for going down a “wrong path,” and added that he wanted to “stay away from all firearms and weapons, and to never be away from my family again.”

PHOTO: Supreme Court, per Mathieu Landretti

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