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Federal Law Determined by Supreme Court to Continue Barring Gun Ownership to Domestic Abusers

Posted by Sara Cooper | Nov 08, 2023 | 0 Comments

Yesterday, the Supreme Court had began the process of hearing arguments on the case that would determine whether federal law can or cannot permit guns to be owned by domestic abusers. If this law is taken away, many state laws similar to it would as well. Gun reform would completely shift.

The case is the next chapter in the high court's new Second Amendment doctrine.

Former Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben of the DOJ's criminal appeals team for over 2 decades, responded towards this case that an analog cannot be precedence for it.

"At the Founding, domestic violence was not considered to be a serious problem that warranted legal intervention. Women were viewed more or less as property of their husbands," he says. "The second feature of changed dynamics is that firearms are now the weapon of choice in domestic violence conflicts in a way that was not true at the founding." According to NPR, “Those realities, the government argues, justify a more "nuanced" analog to the 1700s.”

"I think there's a certain whistling past the judicial graveyard, if you will," says Jerry Beard, a former assistant federal defender in Texas, who served in the office that is representing Rahimi that is the defendant for this SCOTUS case.

"The government is throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping something sticks," he says, adding that "the government is basically saying, 'We don't like this test... we want something else.'"

"If they cannot point to an analog, they're in trouble, Beard observes. "The statute is probably unconstitutional and presumptively is."

Dreeben makes a counterargument that the court maintains a priority to adjust to current times, even with technology that was not always something that existed. He continues to day that domestic violence has always been a common experience that many women face in the United States, as to why guns became a middle conversation of it all. Though, he says women are not the only survivors in domestic violence, children can die from these acts of harm, even outside of school shootings that are still happening almost daily at this time.

Clark Neilly, Senior Vice President of Legal Studies at the Cato Institute, responded with a statement that Zackey Rahimi had not been convicted of any crime when he was first stripped the right to have a gun by a state court judge in Texas and then sentenced to prison for having guns, according to NPR.

"The biggest problem with this law is that it allows somebody to be dispossessed of their firearms on the basis of a state domestic violence order without any showing that they actually engage in domestic violence," Neilly says.

ACLU Legal Director David Cole, has a shifted view compared to Neilly, saying that the statute is constitutional due to the mandate of a protective order, one that Rahimi was given against due to him being a dangerous person to his wife. His viewpoint is unique to the court.

"The notion that any right is limited to law abiding, responsible citizens seems to me really odd," he says. "You don't have to be a law abiding responsible person to have First Amendment rights, Fourth Amendment rights, Fifth Amendment rights."

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