Supreme Court upholds law that bans alleged domestic violence abusers from having guns

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Another crucial gun ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court Friday as justices upheld a law that bans domestic violence abusers from having guns.


This was the first major Second Amendment ruling by Supreme Court Justices since they expanded gun rights in 2022.

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“Obviously extremely relieved that the justices listened to survivors like me,” said Kate Ranta, domestic violence survivor.

Kate Ranta was shot and almost killed by her husband more than a decade ago. She said she’s grateful the Supreme Court upheld a federal 1994 law that bans anyone who has been the subject of a domestic violence restraining order from having a gun.

Gun rights groups challenged the law arguing that it violates the Second Amendment. Their case stems from Texas where Zackey Rahimi was accused of hitting his girlfriend during an argument in a parking lot and threatening her with his gun.

In the 8-1 ruling, justices rejected this argument because the law “fits comfortably within” the traditions of the country’s gun restrictions. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote “since the founding, our Nation’s firearm laws have included provisions preventing individuals who threaten physical harm to others from misusing firearms.”

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Justice Clarence Thomas filed the only dissent.

In this dissenting opinion, Thomas wrote, “the question is whether the Government can strip the Second Amendment right of anyone subject to a protective order—even if he has never been accused or convicted of a crime.  It cannot. The Court and Government do not point to a single historical law revoking a citizen’s Second Amendment right based on possible interpersonal violence.”

Ranta believes Thomas’ dissent is offensive to domestic violence victims.

“It is very, very difficult to get a conviction on domestic violence, plea deals are made, you know, felonies are pled down to a misdemeanor,” said Ranta. “His descent is not based in the reality of what women go through trying to stay safe.”

The National Rifle Association called the court’s ruling narrow.

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“The Supreme Court’s narrow opinion offers no endorsement of red flag laws or of the dozens of other unconstitutional laws that the NRA is challenging across the country that burden the right of peaceable Americans to keep and bear arms. This decision holds only that an individual who poses a clear threat of violence may be temporarily disarmed after a judicial finding of dangerousness,” said Randy Kozuch, Executive Director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) in a written statement.

Meanwhile, Ranta believes this law will maintain the bare minimum of protection for victims.

“It’s hard to fully celebrate just only because I know the reality and women and children are still in grave danger from abusers who can get their hands on guns and it really is just still far too easy,” said Ranta.

This ruling comes as federal data shows guns are the most common weapon used in homicides of spouses, partners and children.

In a statement, President Biden said he will continue urging Congress to strengthen protections for domestic violence survivors. Rahimi’s attorney did not have a comment in response to the ruling.

Statement from the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Rahimi: As we explained in our amicus brief, the federal government has no constitutional authority to impose gun control on peaceable individuals at all, let alone the statute at issue in this case. While we disagree with the Court’s holding and dispute federal authority to enforce this regulation, we are encouraged that the Court confirmed the textual and historical analysis required under its Heller and Bruen decisions. We will continue to eliminate disarmament schemes and restore the right to keep and bear arms through our high-impact FPC Law strategic litigation program and other efforts.

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