Supreme Court Upholds Federal Law Protecting Survivors of Domestic Violence 

On June 21, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of a federal law prohibiting those with a domestic violence restraining order against them from possessing a firearm. The federal law in question under United States v. Rahimi (2024) was the 1996 Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, often referred to as “the Lautenberg Amendment,” after its sponsor, the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). While individuals convicted of felonies are banned from owning guns, this law also included those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

The Feminist Majority, partnering with the National Network to End Domestic Violence and its then director, Donna Edwards, played a pivotal role in passing this law to protect survivors of domestic violence. As a result of this Supreme Court ruling, the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban has survived yet another attempt to gut the law and put guns back into the hands of dangerous individuals.

In United States v. Rahimi, Justice Roberts argued that the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban fell in line with America’s regulatory tradition by temporarily disarming an individual who poses a credible threat to another. Multiple justices also argued in favor of the federal law, since the restriction only applied to specific individuals rather than the public as a whole. 

The case’s respondent, Zackey Rahimi, had a domestic violence restraining order taken out against him by his ex-partner after he physically assaulted her in 2019 and attempted to shoot a witness. He was later arrested after being a suspect in six separate shootings where police found firearms in his possession. He was charged with unlawful firearm possession in a federal court due to his domestic violence restraining order. He pleaded guilty to his charge and received six years in prison. 

Rahimi’s case is just one of thousands in the United States, with hundreds of others ending in tragic deaths. Almost half of all women murdered in the United States are killed by an intimate partner, and more than half of these murders are committed with a firearm. Access to a gun by an abuser increases the risk of homicide by five times. Hundreds of women are killed every year as a result of shootings by intimate partners, making the Supreme Court’s decision on this federal law a significant victory for victims of domestic violence. 

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