US Supreme Court Expected to Uphold Gun Law Safeguarding Domestic Violence Victims

US Supreme Court Expected to Uphold Gun Law Safeguarding Domestic Violence Victims

Washington - On Tuesday, the justices of the US Supreme Court seemed inclined to support the constitutionality of a federal law that criminalizes firearm possession for individuals under domestic violence restraining orders. This case is a significant test of the court's conservative majority's willingness to further expand gun rights.

The justices heard arguments related to an appeal by President Joe Biden's administration, challenging a lower court's ruling that struck down the law, designed to protect domestic abuse victims, as a violation of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees the right to "keep and bear arms."

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans had previously determined that the law did not pass the rigorous test set by the Supreme Court in a 2022 ruling. This ruling mandated that gun laws must be "consistent with the nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation" to survive a Second Amendment challenge.

Several conservative justices, who constitute a 6-3 majority, raised questions about the administration's argument that the Second Amendment might allow for the prohibition of firearm possession by individuals who are not considered "law-abiding and responsible," a category that includes domestic abusers.

However, some of their questions indicated a willingness to find the law compatible with the Second Amendment by applying a standard that would disarm individuals deemed dangerous, as opposed to merely irresponsible.

Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, focused on the term "responsible," suggesting it was overly broad and open to interpretation.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, representing the administration, pointed out that the term "not responsible" was a standard articulated by the court itself in three major gun rights rulings over the past 15 years. It is closely linked to the potential danger an individual might pose if they had access to firearms.

Prelogar argued that the law aligns with the historical tradition of disarming individuals who have committed crimes or who pose a danger, including loyalists, rebels, minors, individuals with mental illness, felons, and drug addicts.

The case involves Zackey Rahimi, a Texas man who admitted to illegally possessing guns while subject to a restraining order due to assaulting his girlfriend and making threats. The police found the firearms when searching his residence in connection with multiple shootings.

Advocacy groups have cited research showing that the presence of a gun increases the likelihood of domestic abuse incidents turning lethal. Prelogar emphasized this point, stating that "Guns and domestic abuse are a deadly combination."

Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett raised questions about whether "law-abiding and responsible" is the appropriate test, given its ambiguities.

Liberal Justice Elena Kagan expressed concerns that ruling in favor of Rahimi could potentially invalidate other gun restrictions, undermining public safety.

The court, known for its expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment, is expected to issue a ruling by the end of June. This case holds particular significance in a nation divided over how to address firearms violence and gun rights, especially in the context of frequent mass shootings.

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