Supreme Court upholds gun restriction in cases of domestic violence

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a federal law that prohibits people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms, taking a step back from its recent endorsement of a broad right to own a firearm. firearm.

The court, by an 8-1 vote, ruled in favor of the Biden administration, which defended the law — one of several federal gun restrictions currently facing legal challenges.

The ruling indicates that some long-standing gun laws are likely to survive despite the court’s 2022 ruling that expanded gun rights by finding for the first time that there is a right to bear a gun outside the home under the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Attendees hold Ruger revolver pistols during the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, May 28, 2022.Patrick T. Fallon / AFP – Getty Images file

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that since the founding of the United States, “our nation’s gun laws have included provisions preventing individuals who threaten physical harm to others from using harm their firearms.”

The provision at issue in this case “fits perfectly into this tradition,” he added.

In reaching its conclusion, the court did not accept some of the arguments made by the Biden administration to defend the law, including that the government can disarm people who are not “responsible.”

Although the vote was lopsided, with only conservative Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting, the decision nevertheless exposed the divisions among the justices on the issue of gun rights, with five justices writing separate concurring opinions explaining their views.

These in-depth opinions will help shape how the court approaches future gun-related cases, several of which are currently pending.

The 2022 decision, in a case titled New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, said gun restrictions must be analyzed based on a historical understanding of the right to bear arms. As such, the ruling raised questions about many existing gun restrictions that gun rights activists say are not rooted in historical tradition.

One of those other laws, which prohibits illegal drug users from owning guns, has come under scrutiny in part because Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, has been accused of violation of this law and launched a constitutional challenge.

The three liberal justices on the conservative-majority court were all in the majority while making clear they disagreed with the 2022 decision.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was appointed by President Joe Biden after the ruling was issued, said the new case “highlights the apparent difficulty judges face in the field” in deciding which laws to enforce. firearms should be applied in light of the previous decision.

In his dissent, Thomas remains steadfast in his view that the history of similar laws at the nation’s founding is determinative. Other judges are more willing to consider laws that are not exactly the same but have a similar effect.

“Not a single historic settlement justifies the law in question,” Thomas wrote.

The case before the justices involved Zackey Rahimi, a Texas man whose partner obtained a restraining order against him in February 2020. He argued that he could not be prosecuted under the federal restriction on possession of firearms, in light of the findings of the Supreme Court.

Rahimi’s ex-partner, with whom he shares a child, was granted a restraining order after an incident in an Arlington, Texas, parking lot in 2019. Rahimi allegedly threw the woman to the ground, allegedly dragged her to her car and pushed her inside, causing her to hit her head on the dashboard, prosecutors said in court documents. He also allegedly fired a shot at a witness.

Even while the protection order was in effect, Rahimi was involved in a series of shootings, including one in which he allegedly fired bullets into a house using an AR-15 rifle, say the prosecutors.

Rahimi faces state charges for domestic assault and a separate assault on another woman. But the case before the justices involves his separate prosecution by the Justice Department for violating federal gun ownership law.

Rahimi eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals applied the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in the Rahimi case and concluded last year that the law “does not meet the constitutional criteria”.

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