Important Question of Domestic Violence and Gun Rights Soon to be Decided

The United States Supreme Court will Soon Decide Whether to Uphold or Strike Down the Prohibition on Firearms Possession for those Convicted of Domestic Violence or Subject to Restraining Orders 

Firearms Rights for Domestic Violence Offenders NJ

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the U.S. v. Rahimi case regarding the issue of domestic violence, protective orders, and gun rights. Currently, individuals subject to a restraining order because of domestic violence may not possess firearms per 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8). The decision asks the Justices to decide whether 18. U.S.C. 922(g)(8) is unconstitutional on its face, meaning it is evidently unconstitutional without probing too deeply into contradictory evidence.

Argument For Limiting Firearms Rights of Domestic Abusers

The framework for the issue is the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Pistol and Rifle Association decision vs. Bruen, which essentially establishes a burden on states seeking to limit Second Amendment rights to show a historical precedent for laws restricting an individual’s constitutional right to bear arms. The United States petitioned the court to decide the issue and urged the Justices to recognize that case law throughout history supports laws banning gun possession for lawbreakers, including those named in domestic violence protective orders. The petitioner, the United States, contends that the Second Amendment protects “law-abiding, responsible citizens,” language that arises from Supreme Court cases in the past and in gun law history. It does not protect those who are not law-abiding and responsible. In recognizing the judicial history consistent with gun legislation history, the U.S. asks the court to decide whether the law is constitutional.

Argument Against Restricting Gun Rights for Domestic Violence Offenders

On the other hand, Respondent Zackey Rahimi asserts that Section 922(g)(a) runs afoul of the constitutional firearms rights of all United States citizens since historic firearm regulations in the United States do not support the law. In other words, the tradition of gun regulation in America does not include firearm bans on defendants named in domestic violence protective orders. Rahimi counters that the Second Amendment protects all citizens. He also contends that section 922(g)(8) disregards gun law history. Should the court decide for the Respondent, the nation’s domestic violence and gun laws are subject to challenge and change. Specifically, the effect is to broaden gun possession rights and narrow protections for domestic violence victims.

Overview of the United States v. Rahimi Case

Respondent Zackey Rahimi committed five random shootings with an automatic rifle, shooting at cars, residences, and the air after being provoked to anger over squabbles and insults. Concurrently, Rahimi was subject to a civil protective order after he assaulted his girlfriend, pushing her down and hitting her head on the dashboard of the car when he threw her in there. All the shootings occurred while he was subject to the protective order that banned his possession of firearms.

The police arrested him after searching his residence under a warrant and finding several firearms, magazines, and ammunition, which he admitted were his. As a result, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas indicted him for violating 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8), possessing a firearm in violation of a domestic violence restraining order.

Section 922(g)(8) applies when a judge issues a protective order after the duly noticed parties were able to present their cases at a hearing; the order forbids the named defendant from threatening, harassing, or stalking the named plaintiff and their child or children; and a finding that the defendant is a danger to the plaintiff’s safety or order forbidding physical force against the plaintiff or their child.

However, after the ruling in N.Y. Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the Fifth Circuit allowed further argument, which then included Rahimi’s assertion that section 922(g)(8) was unconstitutional since the government did not prove the law’s consistency with the Second Amendment protection presumption arising from Bruen. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court decision. The government appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

Rahimi’s defense in the district court was that section 922(g)(8) violated the Second Amendment. The district court disagreed, citing Fifth Circuit case law that preempted that argument. Rahimi pled guilty but appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit because section 922(g)(8) was unconstitutional. The appellate court affirmed the district court ruling.

Implications of this Decision on Domestic Violence Cases with Gun Owners in New Jersey

New Jersey’s corresponding laws to section 922(g)(8) include N.J. S. A. 2C:25-29; N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3c, and N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7, which prohibit those subject to a domestic violence protective order or convicted of domestic violence to buy, own, or possess a firearm. They may not even have a handgun permit or firearms purchaser identification card. Should the Supreme Court decide that the Second Amendment protects all United States citizens, New Jersey’s law would not be valid or enforceable.

Some argue that striking down the law at the federal law will likely leave victims of domestic violence vulnerable to gun violence deaths and injuries. National statistics show that 70 women a month die from gunshot wounds inflicted by intimate partners. Conversely, the Supreme Court’s decision that the Second Amendment protects all citizens may result in more just results for those wrongfully subject to restraining orders in New Jersey. Intimate partner warfare may be responsible for false claims on restraining order applications that unjustly restrict innocent defendants from firearms possession. For those citizens, their Second Amendment rights restored would be welcome.

Let us Help Protect Your Firearms Rights in a Restraining Order Case in NJ

Considering the recent Supreme Court gun rights case law and our extensive experience handling domestic violence cases involving guns and weapons, our defense attorneys may be able to prevent your loss of gun rights in a domestic violence case or help you regain your Second Amendment rights if you have been accused of domestic violence at a restraining order hearing. If you have had your weapons seized or are facing a forfeiture action and at risk of losing your gun rights in New Jersey, we will fight tooth and nail on your behalf. Contact our lawyers for help with restraining orders, domestic violence accusations, and firearms rights issues resulting from these matters. We can help anywhere statewide in NJ, including in Passaic County, Monmouth County, Bergen County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Union County, and Essex County. Contact us online or call (201)-614-2474 for a free consultation.