SCOTUS Hears Case on Alleged Abusers’ Right to Bear Arms

U.S. Supreme Court building | Image by Erik Cox Photography

The U.S. Supreme Court heard approximately 100 minutes of oral arguments on Tuesday in a case with Second Amendment implications.

The case revolves around a law banning anyone subject to a domestic violence restraining order from possessing firearms.

U.S. vs. Rahimi is an Arlington-based case focused on a 2020 restraining order filed against Zackey Rahimi, who allegedly assaulted his girlfriend and fired a gun at a bystander who witnessed the encounter.

The restraining order barred Rahimi from being in possession of guns, but police later found multiple weapons at his residence after identifying him as a suspect in a series of five shootings in December 2020 and January 2021.

Rahimi was indicted for unlawful possession of a firearm, subsequently pled guilty, and was sentenced to more than six years in prison. However, Rahimi then proceeded to challenge the indictment on the grounds that the 1968 Federal Gun Control Act was unconstitutional, but that effort failed in the lower court.

He appealed the decision, and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled that the Federal Gun Control Act violated the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right “to keep and bear arms.” The judge’s ruling was based on a precedent set in a 2022 Supreme Court case that expanded gun rights, as reported by The Dallas Express.

President Joe Biden’s administration presented an appeal to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, with Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar arguing that the Federal Gun Control Act was constitutional since it keeps weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.

“Throughout our nation’s history, legislatures have disarmed those who have committed serious criminal conduct or whose access to guns poses a danger. For example, loyalists, rebels, minors, individuals with mental illness, felons, and drug addicts,” she said, per Reuters.

“Armed abusers also pose great danger to police officers responding to domestic violence calls and to the public at large — as Zackey Rahimi’s own conduct shows,” she said.

The CDC states that 57% of intimate partner homicides in 2020 involved firearms, according to the Associated Press.

Jan Langbein, who works with the Genesis Women’s Shelter, claimed that number could be even higher in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“We know that, here in Dallas County, approximately 65% of those women that are killed are killed by their abuser with a firearm,” she said, per Fox 4 KDFW.

Prelogar said that granting firearms to those charged with domestic abuse is irresponsible, but Chief Justice John Roberts pushed back on the use of that term.

Roberts stated that “what seems irresponsible to some people might seem like, well, it’s not a big deal to others.”

“I mean, not taking your recycling to the curb on Thursdays, if it’s a serious problem, it’s irresponsible,” he added, per Reuters.

Rahimi, with his troubled history — an alleged domestic abuser and loose canon who has more recently expressed disinterest in possessing firearms — is seen by some Second Amendment advocates as a bad example for the defense of gun rights.

Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter commented on X, “So now we’re going to have our 2d amt rights chipped away because of our idiotic immigration policies.”

She then quoted a New York Times piece on Rahimi, stating, “Mr. Rahimi [was] a troubled young man who turned to drugs and guns after growing up in poverty in a family that immigrated to Texas from Afghanistan.”

Anti-gun advocates have been quick to emphasize the domestic violence argument for limiting gun rights. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was a victim of a shooting herself, addressed a rally in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

She posted on X, “I stood outside the Supreme Court today to say that the lives of women and children are worth more than an abuser’s right to possess a gun. Lives are on the line, and I urge SCOTUS to do what is right in U.S. v. Rahimi. We must [Protect Survivors].”

Multiple judges on the Supreme Court have previously written opinions arguing that some anti-gun laws should be upheld to protect the public.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett seemed to agree with Prelogar’s argument, saying that “the legislature can make judgments to disarm people consistently with the Second Amendment based on dangerousness,” per NBC News.

It may be several months before the Supreme Court renders a decision in the U.S. vs. Rahimi case, according to CNN. 

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