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The man at the center of a landmark gun rights case before the Supreme Court shot a pistol at a woman a handful of times in a public parking lot, according to police records obtained by HuffPost.
Zackey Rahimi is challenging a longstanding federal law barring domestic abusers from possessing guns. But this previously undisclosed incident underlines advocates’ fears that allowing abusers to retain firearms will lead to more violence against women and undermine public safety.
“This order should have prohibited him from having a gun,” said David Pucino, deputy chief counsel at Giffords Law Center, a gun reform nonprofit. “The fact that he had a gun allowed him to go ahead and use it, and fire it at yet another woman.”
The case is one of dozens in which lower courts have scrapped well established gun restrictions to comply with the sweeping reinterpretation of Second Amendment rights penned by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas last year.
Under the standard described by Thomas, the only gun restrictions permitted by the Constitution are those that existed in some form historically dating back to an unspecified period some time between 1791 ― when the framers signed the Bill of Rights ― and the end of the Civil War.
United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for an official portrait at the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court building on Oct. 7, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
Rahimi pled guilty in 2021 to possessing guns in violation of a protective order for domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend, with whom he has a young child, after a search of his bedroom turned up a pistol with an extended magazine on the nightstand and a semi-automatic rifle under the bed. A large body of social science research indicates that male abusers with access to firearms are far more likely to kill their femalepartners.
But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, citing the Supreme Court’s expansive reinterpretation of Second Amendment rights. The Supreme Court agreed in June to review Rahimi’s case. A ruling from the high court promises to clarify what latitude state and federal lawmakers have to restrict the right to carry a firearm in the name of public safety.
Rahimi faces criminal charges for a string of other shootings, making him an unlikely face for the gun rights movement. Despite the protective order prohibiting him from possessing firearms, federal court records show he allegedly went on a series of at least five shootings from December 2020 to January 2021, according to court filings and police records.
The total number of Rahimi’s alleged shootings, however, is actually six and started one month earlier, according to the police records obtained by HuffPost. On Nov. 12, 2020, a 25-year-old woman told police that she agreed to meet Rahimi in a parking lot after receiving a Snapchat message from him saying that he “had something for her.”
When she arrived, she told police she saw him kneeling by the driver’s side of a vehicle, wearing all black clothes, including a black ski mask covering his face. Rahimi had his hands around his waistband, she said, where he appeared to hold a pistol with a magazine larger than the gun itself.
As the woman got back into her car and drove off, she heard five or six gunshots, some of which appeared to strike her car. “Vehicle was shot multiple times with the driver inside,” the police report reads.
Federal prosecutors referred to the parking lot incident in vague terms when asking the Supreme Court to review the case. But they did not specify that Rahimi had allegedly shot at someone ― only that he “threatened another woman with a gun.”
Over the next four months, he allegedly opened fire in public in several other shootings described in the 5th Circuit’s ruling and other federal court records.
In one case, he allegedly shot into someone’s home with an AR-15 in response to social media comments. He faces two separate allegations of shooting at drivers ― once after a car crash, and once in response to a truck driver flashing his headlights at him. He allegedly shot guns in a residential neighborhood in front of children, and he allegedly fired into the air after a Whataburger declined his friend’s credit card.
But of the handful of Rahimi’s alleged shootings, luring a woman into a parking lot and shooting at her repeatedly speaks most directly to reformers’ concerns that letting people with histories of domestic abuse possess guns presents a public safety threat.
It is not clear whether he was romantically involved with the woman police identified as the victim in the shooting. The woman described Rahimi as a “friend,” the police report says.
“We know that people who have these protective orders issued against them are at increased risk of committing acts of violence against anyone,” Pucino said. “These laws are important to protect not just people who have been victimized, but the public at large.”
While Rahimi’s federal case proceeds, he faces state charges for possession of fentanyl, recklessly discharging a firearm, and charges for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against three separate people. He is currently at Green Bay Jail in Fort Worth while his state cases move forward.