On June 21, 2024, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected a Second Amendment challenge to a federal law prohibiting those subjected to a domestic violence restraining order from possession of a firearm while the order is in effect. United States v. Rahimi facial challenge of Section 922(g)(8) is constitutional. The case was reversed and remanded.

In 2019, Zackey Rahimi physically assaulted his girlfriend in a parking lot in Texas. He told her that if she talked to police, he would shoot her. Later, the state court granted her a domestic violence restraining order. Rahimi threatened a different woman and was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Rahimi shot guns in public on five other occasions. Police found multiple firearms and rounds of ammunition inside his home.

Under the 1994 federal law, Section 922(g)(8), an individual with an active restraining order against them is barred from possessing firearms. Rahimi was charged with violating that law.

The 8-1 opinion, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, noted that even the Second Amendment is not unlimited pursuant District of Columbia v. Heller. The Government offered substantial evidence that the Second Amendment permits the disarmament of individuals who pose a credible threat to the physical safety of an intimate partner or their children.

Attorney General Merrick Garland states, “as the Court reaffirmed today, that commonsense prohibition is entirely consistent with the Court’s precedent and the text and history of the Second Amendment.”

The Rahimi decision limits the expansion of gun rights that occurred last year, authored by Justice Thomas in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, who is the only dissenting Justice in Rahimi. Bruen expanded gun rights prohibiting state governments from infringing on an individual’s Second Amendment right to bear arms in the home. Bruen set the standard requiring that any restriction on firearms must be “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition”. Justice Thomas’s dissent in Rahimi returns to this argument seeking a Colonial era reasoning and historical twin to allow any ability to disarm an individual.

However, the majority opinion states that since this Nation’s founding, there have been “provisions preventing individuals who threaten physical harm to others from misusing firearms.” Specifically, the founding era used surety and going armed laws to confirm the commonsense application of Section 922(g)(8), “when an individual poses a clear threat of physical violence to another, the threatening individual may be disarmed.” The historical reasoning does not need to be a twin, but “relevantly similar” in burden to the Second Amendment.

Rahimi put the safety of every survivor of domestic violence on the line. Despite Rahimi administering an originalist perspective, this decision offers one step toward a corrective response for the safety of domestic violence survivors.     


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Written by: Abby Larmore