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Coverage roundup: US Supreme Court upholds domestic violence gun law (Updated x2)

Friday, Jun 21, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* AP

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a federal gun control law that is intended to protect victims of domestic violence.

In their first Second Amendment case since they expanded gun rights in 2022, the justices ruled 8-1 in favor of a 1994 ban on firearms for people under restraining orders to stay away from their spouses or partners. The justices reversed a ruling from the federal appeals court in New Orleans that had struck down the law.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court, said the law uses “common sense” and applies only “after a judge determines that an individual poses a credible threat” of physical violence.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the author of the major 2022 Bruen ruling in a New York case, dissented.

* The Washington Post

The challenge to the law was brought by Zackey Rahimi, a drug dealer who was placed under a restraining order after a 2019 argument with his girlfriend. He argued that the government had violated his Second Amendment rights by blocking him from possessing guns.

Rahimi knocked the woman to the ground in a parking lot, dragged her back to his car and fired a shot at a bystander, according to court records. The girlfriend escaped, but Rahimi later called her and threatened to shoot her if she told anyone about the assault. The pair have a child together.

A Texas court found that Rahimi had “committed family violence” and that such violence was “likely to occur again in the future.” It issued a protective order that suspended Rahimi’s gun license, prohibited him from having guns and warned him that possessing a firearm while the order remained in effect might be a federal felony.

Rahimi later violated the protective order and was involved in five shootings between December 2020 and January 2021, according to a government brief. […]

Rahimi argued in federal court that he had the right to possess guns, but a judge ruled against him on that issue. Afterward, he pleaded guilty to the federal charge and received a sentence of six years in prison. He continued to challenge the law, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit reheard his case after the Supreme Court’s Bruen ruling.


Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that since the United States was founded “our nation’s firearm laws have included provisions preventing individuals who threaten physical harm to others from misusing firearms.”

The provision at issue in the case “fits comfortably within this tradition,” he added. […]

In his dissent, Thomas stuck to his view that the history of similar laws at the time of the nation’s founding is determinative. Other justices are more willing to consider laws that are not exactly the same but have a similar effect.

“Not a single historical regulation justifies the statute at issue,” Thomas wrote.

* G-PAC…

The Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC) of Illinois today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold federal law that bars domestic violence abusers from having guns when they have an order of protection entered against them.

John Schmidt, G-PAC Executive Board Member and former U.S. Associate Attorney General, issued the following statement in response to today’s decision in U.S. v Rahimi:

“The Court’s decision upholds the basic principle that we can deny guns to dangerous people. It rejects the false idea that common sense limits on gun ownership are inconsistent with the Second Amendment right to bear arms for self-defense. The fact that the decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts with the support of all but one of the other Justices sends a positive sign the Court will continue to uphold sensible laws that protect us against gun violence.”

* The Network…

The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence has released a statement about the U.S. Supreme Court’s 8-1 decision in United States v. Rahimi which upholds a federal law that prohibits people subject to domestic violence orders of protection from possessing firearms. The Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision that individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders have a constitutional right to possess firearms.

“The Supreme Court has asserted that an individual found by a court to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another may be temporarily disarmed consistent with the Second Amendment. Survivors of domestic violence deserve to be protected from harm and this decision reinforces the obligation of governments to safeguard survivors. The Illinois General Assembly must reaffirm this right to safety from gun violence and pass Karina’s Bill this fall,” said Amanda Pyron, Executive Director of The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence.

The court held that when an individual has been found by a court to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another, that individual may be temporarily disarmed consistent with the Second Amendment. Thousands of survivors seek orders of protection each year as an element of safety while they break free from domestic violence situations.

The importance of prohibiting firearms in domestic violence situations cannot be overstated.

    - Risk of intimate partner homicide increases 500% when abusers have access to a gun.

    - Leaving a domestic violence relationship is a period of high lethality risk, including when filing for an order of protection.

    - In domestic violence homicides where the victim had an order of protection, 1 out of 5 victims were killed within two days of the order being issued.

By validating the federal law prohibiting abusers with orders of protection against them from gun possession, the Supreme Court has shown its agreement that the safety of survivors – particularly women – is critical. The Network is grateful to the Supreme Court for its action to protect victims of domestic violence in the U.S.

* Ben Szalinski

More on Karina’s Bill here and here.

* Attorney General Kwame Raoul…

Attorney General Kwame Raoul today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Rahimi, which will preserve federal law that prohibits individuals under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms.

“For decades, federal law has barred individuals who are subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms, and I am very pleased to see the U.S. Supreme Court uphold these longstanding, commonsense tools that protect victims of domestic violence and prevent gun violence.

“As we highlighted in the brief we led in this case – which was joined by 25 attorneys general across the country – intimate partner violence and gun violence are closely connected. Firearms are the leading cause of intimate partner homicides – more so than all other weapons combined. Studies have shown that an abuser is five times more likely to murder an intimate partner if a firearm is in the home. Laws like the federal law upheld today and similar protections in Illinois that bar abusers from accessing firearms have successfully reduced intimate partner homicide.

“The harms of domestic violence reach beyond intimate partners and family members. Perpetrators of domestic violence are also a threat to public safety. From 2014 to 2019, 60% of mass shootings in the United States either involved domestic violence attacks or the perpetrators had a history of domestic violence.

“Domestic abusers are dangerous and should not have access to firearms. Full stop. Today’s decision is a commonsense win for public safety and gun violence prevention.”

* Senator Dick Durbin…

“Today, the Court reaffirmed that the Second Amendment is not limitless and rejected a meritless challenge to an essential gun safety law. In doing so, they are protecting the lives of women and families across the nation. Unfortunately, Justice Thomas, the lone dissenter in the case, continues to isolate himself from a commonsense view of the limits of the Second Amendment.

“But let’s be clear: the only reason this case was before the Court is that two years ago a conservative supermajority of judicial activists established a radical new standard that makes it much easier for the gun lobby to challenge longstanding gun safety laws. The Court should overturn its misguided Bruen decision as soon as possible.”

In March 2023, Durbin chaired a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Protecting Public Safety After New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.” The hearing focused on the impact of the radical new standard for the constitutionality of modern-day gun safety laws set by the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen in 2022. With that decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutionality of modern-day gun safety laws depends on whether the government can demonstrate that there were sufficiently similar historical gun laws in place at the time of the adoption of the Second Amendment in 1791 or the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868. This 2022 ruling opened the door to the Fifth Circuit’s overturning of its original ruling in United States v. Rahimi, thus allowing those with domestic violence protective orders to still possess firearms.

In August 2023, Durbin joined nearly 170 members of Congress in filing an amicus brief in opposition to the constitutional challenge. In the bicameral brief, Durbin and the members called on the Supreme Court to set a clear standard allowing Congress to pass laws that keep the American people safe.

*** Adding *** Rep. Maura Hirschauer…

State Rep. Maura Hirschauer, D-Batavia, issued the following statement Friday after the Supreme Court sided overwhelmingly with gun safety advocates and survivors of domestic violence by upholding federal protections preventing abusers from possessing firearms:

“The United States Supreme Court spoke clearly and forcefully in favor commonsense gun safety, with justices from every end of the ideological spectrum upholding efforts to get guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

“While this ruling is a great relief for survivors of gender-based violence, the federal protections affirmed today merely preserve the status quo—and for tens of thousands of women and families, it is clear that this is not enough. We now know without question that we can do more, and we must. Here in Illinois, we should move forward by enacting Karina’s Bill, which will provide clear guidance for getting guns out of the hands of abusers, and ensure those weapons are removed sooner—all within a framework that justices have now overwhelmingly endorsed.

“The Supreme Court has shown us that we can enact Karina’s Bill with confidence, knowing that the gun lobby’s bad faith claims have been rejected by the nation’s highest court. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this important legislation into law as soon as possible.”

*** Adding *** Illinois State Rifle Association…

US Supreme Court Upholds Importance of Due Process in US v. Rahimi

Today, the US Supreme Court held in US v Rahimi that the temporary restriction of a dangerous individual’s ability to possess a firearm is consistent with the history of the 2nd Amendment.

While there are those in Illinois who would seek to remove firearms and deny rights to individuals without the benefit of due process, The Illinois State Rifle Association points out that today’s opinion makes clear that proper due process is an important part of the process where 2nd Amendment rights are concerned.

Notably, Chief Justice Roberts finds that a temporary restriction under 922(g)(8) is proper because in part:

    “A prosecution under Section 922(g)(8) may proceed only if three criteria are met. First, the defendant must have received actual notice and an opportunity to be heard before the order was entered.”

The Illinois State Rifle Association has opposed recent attempts by activists to pass laws which restrict 2nd Amendment Rights without due process, and we strongly encourage those groups to heed the words written in the majority opinion today which also contains the following passages:

    “we note that Section 922(g)(8) applies only once a court has found that the defendant “represents a credible threat to the physical safety” of another.”

    “the Second Amendment right may only be burdened once a defendant has been found to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of others.”

Again, today’s decision makes clear that a court must make a finding before restricting 2nd amendment rights. These rights cannot be curtailed on the basis of an unverified allegation, and the ISRA will continue to fight against attempts to remove firearm owner’s rights to due process in the Illinois legislature.

“Today’s opinion applies solely to those who have been shown to be a credible threat to others through due process in the legal system. The ISRA continues to fight for the rights of peaceful citizens to protect themselves through firearm ownership and exercise of their 2nd amendment rights” - Richard Pearson, Executive Director, Illinois State Rifle Association.

* Related…

    * NPR | In today’s gun rights cases, historians are in hot demand. Here’s why: Bruen has also created sudden, intense interest in research from people such as Brennan Gardner Rivas, an independent scholar who wrote her dissertation on the history of gun regulation in Texas. “The states and attorneys general who are trying to defend their gun laws from challenges now have to seek out historians to identify analogous historical laws,” Rivas says. “They’ve all found me on their own through Googling me and looking up my publications and things like that.”


  1. - low level - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 11:38 am:

    Finally. Common sense gun laws are upheld.

    Now I’m sure Todd will post about how the govment will take your guns. Its always entertaining how triggered he gets.

  2. - Big Dipper - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 11:45 am:

    Wasn’t he confidently predicting the opposite ruling?

  3. - TJ - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 11:48 am:

    uh-oh… if past trends have suggested anything, it’s that a sensible Roberts Court ruling usually means that an even more horrendous Roberts Court ruling is due shortly thereafter.

  4. - JS Mill - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 11:49 am:

    Historical test- funny how Thomas always ignores that the founders were talking about single shot weapons. Muskets.

  5. - ZC - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 11:55 am:

    I told my classes that _Bruen_, whatever you thought about the underlying 2nd Amendment principle, was vague on how to apply it to a plethora of cases like these. Eventually if the Supreme Court hears enough 2nd Amendment cases, we’ll get a clearer roadmap. But right now legislatures (and lower courts) are kind of in the wilderness, as to what the 2nd Amendment means applied to lots of things.

    It’s worth remembering there have been hundreds of cases nailing down what the 1st amendment means. But at the Supreme Court level, in the modern era, we’ve basically got four major decisions from the Supremes: Heller, McDonald, Bruen, and now Rahimi. And it wasn’t clear (it’s more clear now) whether Bruen in effect dismantled much of the Heller decision, and started over. You can drive a lot of buses through the gaps created by such a tiny source of precedent.

  6. - Demoralized - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 11:57 am:

    The ruling was narrow but I think it’s interesting that the Court said that the Bruen ruling doesn’t mean that the Government can’t regulate guns at all based on the goofy test Justice Thomas set up in that ruling. But each and every restriction will now have to go to the Court to get a determination. But it’s nice to see that regulation is possible even after the ruling and that some of the “no regulations ever” people citing the Bruen case have been put in their place a little bit.

  7. - SaulGoodman - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 11:59 am:

    ** Wasn’t [Todd] confidently predicting the opposite ruling?**

    Why yes, yes he was.

    Thankfully he was very wrong, as many (including other pro-2A advocates) expected

  8. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 11:59 am:

    ===Rahimi later violated the protective order and was involved in five shootings between December 2020 and January 2021, according to a government brief.===

    Clarence Thomas thinks this guy should be able to legally own firearms.

  9. - Demoralized - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 12:04 pm:

    ==Clarence Thomas thinks this guy should be able to legally own firearms.==

    Exactly. Justice Thomas doesn’t believe you should be able to take common sense into consideration at all. It’s nice to see the Court consider the consequences of their actions for once in making a ruling.

  10. - Todd - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 12:17 pm:

    If you look at my twitter feed you’ll see I have been consistent:

    If Alito writes it good for us. If Roberts it’s narrow — 6/16

    Alito writes it — I was wrong here, but correct about Roberts doing a narrower opinion

    the finding of facially unconstitutional is reversed

    Dangerous people can be disarmed — yup called it

    As applied to Mr. Rahimi constitutional but others may challenge — yup

    flushing out of text tradition and history — yup

    hoping for outlawing ex parte and full 6th am protections — got the set up for that
    9:51 AM · Jun 20, 2024

  11. - PublicServant - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 12:19 pm:

    Pretty sure Harlan approves of the dissent.

  12. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 12:28 pm:

    Glad it was 8 to one. If you favor gun restrictions and I do you could not have found a better person to bring suit than Rahimi
    Not exactly the poor uneducated person who lost his property at a tax sale

  13. - Jerry - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 12:53 pm:

    Does Clay “Clarence” Thomas even understand that when the Constitution was written, he legally, morally, socially would not have been allowed to own a gun!

  14. - Demoralized - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 12:54 pm:


    I would think you would want Clarence Thomas to write all of the opinions given his goofy view of the Second Amendment and now his clear indication that he believes there is really no reason to ever deny anyone access to a gun no matter how dangerous that person may be. You’d be guaranteed your desired extreme outcomes every single time.

  15. - Todd - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 1:03 pm:

    I think we gained with this decision. In using surety laws the court likened them to where a court made a determination and had procedural protections:

    These laws often offered the accused significant procedural protections. Before the accused could be compelled to post a bond for “go[ing] armed,” a complaint had to be made to a judge or justice of the peace by “any person having reasonable cause to fear” that the accused would do him harm
    or breach the peace. Mass. Rev. Stat., ch. 134, §§1, 16. The magistrate would take evidence, and—if he determined that cause existed for the charge—summon the accused, who could respond to the allegations.”

    “we note that Section 922(g)(8) applies only once a court has found that the defendant “represents a credible threat to the physical safety” of another.

    That matches the surety and going armed laws, which involved judicial determinations of whether a particular defendant likely would threaten or had threatened another with a weapon”

    I think all the ex parte stuff is on life support. I think Illinois administrative clear and present danger is no bueno as there is no “court” to make a finding.

    they also talked about protectring modern firearms a time or two and talked about how the text, history and tradition should be looked at. I think Gorsuch and Barretts concurring speak a lot to this.

    While 922g8 is not facially unconstitutional, as I predicted, there are several points that boad well for the 2A crowd. coupled with the Cargill case. it’s been a pretty good couple of weeks for our side

  16. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 1:05 pm:

    “you’ll see I have been consistent”

    Except for that minor detail of getting the actual ruling wrong.

    Which is fine. Being wrong isn’t the end of the world. It’s not the bible, and you aren’t a priest. Prolly shouldn’t be reacting to the situation in the manner you are right now, for many reasons.

  17. - Demoralized - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 1:15 pm:

    ==there are several points that boad well for the 2A crowd==

    I don’t see how. The Court pretty much just told you that Bruen isn’t the absolute guarantee some of you argued that it was and that you can’t automatically just say that any gun regulation isn’t going to pass muster because of Bruen. The Court just told you that you’re wrong. I don’t see how being told you’re wrong is a good thing.

  18. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 1:27 pm:

    “it’s been a pretty good couple of weeks for our side”

    Really happy for America’s gun freaks. They never get what they want from republican judges so this was a huge surprise. Definitely go take a victory lap.

  19. - Former Downstater - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 1:27 pm:

    @Todd, does it all bother you that if Thomas had his way, Zackey Rahimi and people like him would be allowed to keep their gun?

    Not meaning to be confrontational. While I disagree with basically everything you say, you express your opinions well and the way you think seems consistent with the way a lot of people thing. So genuinely curious to see your response.

  20. - Tequila Mockingbird - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 1:30 pm:

    If a person is too dangerous to possess a gun they should be locked up. Plenty of domestic abusers beat, stab, or run down their victims, often after repeated incidents and arrests and court appearances.

  21. - Todd - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 1:44 pm:

    Former — Even if Thomas had his way, Rahimi would still be disarmed as a matter of law by other circumstances/law. he was NOT suppose to have a gun under the law challenged but still found a way to get one. Thomas simply said there was no basis for the law disarming him, under that order, based upon history.

    D — I said the court would find the statute constitutional and the facial challenge would be revered.

    And while the Court gave a little more wiggle room to analogues. the burden is still on the government. they clearly took shots at the 4th, 7th and 9th circuits. Eastbrooks Friedman and Naperville rulings are dead after this and Cargill

    I picked Alito since Thomas had already written another opinion from that sitting.

  22. - Steve Rogers - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 2:03 pm:


    Correct, and according to an opinion by CJ Roger Taney, Clarence Thomas would not be a citizen of the U.S.

  23. - Demoralized - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 2:15 pm:

    ==Even if Thomas had his way==

    Clarence Thomas was arguing that because the country thought domestic violence and gun ownership was just fine (apparently) 200 years ago that we can’t take guns away from someone on that basis. It’s an absolutely absurd argument.

  24. - Big Dipper - Friday, Jun 21, 24 @ 2:42 pm:

    Thomas might want to think about how the founding fathers wouldn’t agree with The Emancipation Proclamation.

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