The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments in a significant gun rights case, focusing on whether the government can prohibit domestic abusers from owning firearms. This case will likely determine the constitutionality of a federal law that has been in place since 1994 and aims to prevent individuals under domestic violence protective orders from possessing guns.
Research indicates that victims or survivors of domestic violence face a five-fold increase in likelihood of death when their abusive partner has access to a firearm. Jan Crawford is reporting on this case from outside the courthouse, highlighting the increasing number of gun law cases challenging restrictions on accessing firearms. Initially, there seems to be broad agreement that individuals convicted of domestic violence should not possess guns.
However, the question lies in what the government needs to prove in order to revoke these individuals’ gun ownership rights. In today’s court proceedings, the justices will examine how these gun laws should be evaluated.
This follows a previous case where the Supreme Court issued guidance to lower courts on the interpretation of gun laws, affirming the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Therefore, the focus is now on the types of restrictions the government can pass through legislative action in Congress. Notably, a federal appeals court has deemed the aforementioned federal law unconstitutional, as it prohibits those under domestic violence orders from owning guns. The appeals court argued that there is no historical foundation for such a law, given that the individual in question had not been convicted, indicted, or subjected to other legal processes that would justify its implementation. Consequently, the constitutionality of this law is being tested at this particular moment. The examination of the law’s constitutionality emerged last year when the Supreme Court ruled that lower courts must assess any gun regulations in light of historical precedents and analogous practices from the past.
In this case, the appeals court adhered to those instructions but found no substantial history of laws individuals under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing guns. There were no examples of such laws in the past, making it challenging to argue against the individual’s gun ownership rights based on their perceived danger, as the law did not explicitly address this matter. This ongoing evaluation began following the Supreme Court’s framework in 2021, and its outcome will have an impact on other gun laws as well, extending beyond domestic violence restraining orders..