Supreme Court will decide whether domestic abusers can have guns

The Supreme Court will weigh in on whether people under domestic violence restraining orders can possess guns. The court announced on Friday that it will hear a case on the issue, United States v. Rahimi, in its next term, which begins in October.

The case will be the next test of how far the court’s conservative majority will expand Second Amendment rights after a landmark decision a year ago that declared a right to carry guns in public. That decision, which set forth a new, history-focused test for evaluating gun-control measures, cast doubt on the constitutionality of scores of gun laws.

The defendant in the new case, Zackey Rahimi of Texas, admitted to having guns in his home despite being under a restraining order because of allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. After a local court issued the restraining order, Rahimi was involved in multiple shootings, including firing into the air after a fast food restaurant declined a friend’s credit card, according to The Texas Tribune.

He argued that the federal law banning people under such restraining orders from possessing guns violated the Second Amendment. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, and threw out Rahimi’s guilty plea and prison sentence.

Last June, the Supreme Court overhauled Second Amendment jurisprudence in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. The court’s conservative majority found that a state law controlling who could carry concealed weapons in public was unconstitutional. In that ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas created a new test for determining the constitutionality of gun restrictions: All restrictions must accord with gun laws during America’s founding era.

That new historical test created widespread confusion among the lower courts, as judges reached different conclusions on just how close any particular gun restriction had to be to the gun laws that existed during early American history. The ruling brought into question longstanding federal laws banning drug users, convicted felons, and domestic abusers from possessing guns.

Rahimi will be the court’s first chance to clarify just how the new Bruen test should work — and just how closely current gun restrictions must hew to those that existed at the founding era.

David Pucino, deputy chief counsel at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said his group — which favors stricter gun laws — had expected the court to review Rahimi.

“My hope is that the conservative justices will recognize that what we’re talking about here are the proverbial bad guys with a gun,” he said.