The US Supreme Court will consider a Texas case over whether domestic violence suspects can be banned from possessing guns
This story was originally published on Texas Tribune.
The stakes of the case are deadly, according to victim advocates who point to estimates that the risk of being killed in domestic violence incidents increases by as much as 500% with the presence of a gun.
For gun rights groups and Second Amendment scholars, this case will provide the Supreme Court with its first opportunity to expand on the decision it issued last year that Established a new standard For modern gun control laws to be “consistent with the text of the Second Amendment and historical understanding.” The ruling led to differing decisions and chaos among the lower courts.
In essence, the framework created by the 2022 case calls for any gun law to have a counterpart in American history in order to be considered constitutional. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Rahimi’s case could jeopardize gun laws across the country if they expand the reach of the Second Amendment, or could provide guidance to lower courts on how to apply its new framework, among other scenarios.
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“We’ve seen lower federal courts trying to interpret and enforce [the] New method, reaching widely mixed results [and] “Understandings,” said Jake Charles, a law professor at Pepperdine University who writes and teaches about the Second Amendment.
The case before the Supreme Court involves a man named Zaki Rahimi, who argues that his constitutional right to bear arms has been violated.
A state court granted Rahimi’s then-girlfriend a restraining order in February 2020 after Rahimi dragged her into his car following an argument in Arlington. He pushed her inside, causing her head to hit the dashboard, and then shot a bystander who witnessed the assault. Court records show.
The court order prohibits Rahimi from threatening, harassing, or approaching his girlfriend or her family. It also suspended Rahimi’s pistol license and prohibited him from possessing a firearm. The state order warned Rahimi that possession of a gun while the order was in effect for two years could be a federal felony.
But Rahimi kept his guns. He used a gun to threaten another woman, and months later in the winter of 2020, he was involved in five shootings within as many weeks. He once shot up a cop car. Another time, he fired a gun into the air outside a Whataburger restaurant after his friend’s credit card was declined.
Authorities who executed a search warrant in connection with the shooting found a .45-caliber handgun, a .308-caliber rifle, handgun and rifle magazines, ammunition, about $20,000 in cash — and a copy of the restraining order issued after the incident with his girlfriend. A federal grand jury indicted Rahimi for violating the federal ban on gun possession while under a restraining order.
Rahimi, whom court documents describe as a drug dealer who mostly sold marijuana, pleaded guilty to the federal charge and was sentenced to six years in prison. The appeals court initially affirmed the ruling but withdrew its opinion and reconsidered the case following the Supreme Court’s landmark 2022 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruin, which established the new test for gun laws.
After the rehearing, a panel of judges from the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit met In February he ruled The Second Amendment allows people subject to protective orders for domestic violence to keep their guns.
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“Although Rahimi is not a model citizen, he is part of the political community entitled to the guarantees of the Second Amendment, all other things being equal,” Judge Corey T. Wilson, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in the 5th Circuit ruling. .
Federal Public Prosecutor Rahimi said he had no comment on this story. My mercy It is said that he said This summer in a handwritten letter from prison, where he awaits the outcome of his case, he wanted to “stay away from all firearms and weapons.”
For advocates and attorneys for domestic violence victims, the facts of the case — from the initial protective order and firing to Rahimi’s guilty plea and the appeals court’s withdrawal of its opinion — make Tuesday’s hearing all the more surprising and jarring.
“You would think that anyone looking at these facts would think public safety is at risk,” said Jenna Longowitz, director of the Domestic Violence Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law. “It seems like public safety and common sense would say this is someone who should not be carrying a firearm.”
Domestic violence in Texas has continued to steadily increase in recent years, according to the Texas Domestic Violence Council. Over the past 10 years, the number of women killed by an intimate partner with a firearm in the state has nearly doubled, according to the nonprofit.
TCFV Domestic violence review in 2022 The number of domestic violence crimes reported by the Department of Public Safety rose 10% last year to 254,339 compared to 231,207 in 2021, it found.
Last year, Texas also saw more “familicides” — cases in which a person kills more than one immediate relative, often spouses and children in murder-suicides — than any other state since 2020, according to the report.
The report says at least 179 women in Texas were killed by an intimate partner or stalking perpetrator in 2022 — 129 of whom were shot to death with a gun.
In the eight months following the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, TCFV received anecdotal reports from survivors and attorneys saying that some state court judges did not support the state’s ban on gun possession for those under protective orders, said Christa Del Gallo, TCFV’s legislative director.
What’s troubling, Del Gallo said, is a lawmaker’s attempt to overturn the state law after the appeals court ruling.
House Bill 4336was introduced in March during this year’s regular legislative session by Rep. Richard HayesR. Denton, would have done so Language hit This makes it illegal for anyone subject to a protective order to possess a firearm or ammunition. The bill was referred to committee but did not advance further, according to legislative records.
“We know that any kind of message to assailants that says, ‘We will prioritize your right to bear arms over the victim’s safety’ encourages assailants,” Del Gallo said. “If we were to go back to the time when the Second Amendment was written, that would be terrifying if that was the framework. It’s also — I’ll use that term — offensive. It’s offensive to women and children who were the property of their husbands at that time; it’s offensive to black people, [who] They were not full citizens at that time. There’s a lot there.”
Gun rights advocates argue that people who comply with civil protection orders have not been convicted of a crime and therefore should not be stripped of their constitutional right to possess guns.
“Not only should Rahimi lose his Second Amendment freedoms, he should also lose all of his freedoms — if the allegations against him are ultimately proven true through due process,” the NRA said. He wrote in an amicus brief supporting the Fifth Circuit’s ruling. “But constitutional guarantees cannot be set aside to achieve these ends.”
For victims of domestic violence, there may be no time more dangerous than when they seek a protective order — and it’s even more deadly when their abuser has a gun, research and analysis of fatalities has shown.
Responding to domestic disturbances and enforcing protective orders are also believed to be among the most dangerous calls to which police respond. about 9% Of the 503 law enforcement officers killed across the country between 2011 and 2020, they were responding to calls related to domestic disturbances or domestic violence.
In the petition submitted to the Supreme Court Address this issuecited U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Prelogar 2014 ruling in another domestic violence case Which quoted a remark attributed to former Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone during a 1996 debate on a similar federal law.
“Oftentimes, the only difference between a beaten woman and a dead woman is the presence of a gun,” Wellstone was quoted as saying.
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