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Justices Likely To Decide Whether Domestic Abusers Can Be Armed

Zackey Rahimi, a drug dealer in Texas with a history of armed violence, is “hardly a model citizen,” a federal appeals court judge wrote in March. Still, the court vacated Rahimi’s conviction under a federal law that makes it a crime for people subject to domestic-violence orders to possess guns, ruling that the law violated the Second Amendment. Next week, the Supreme Court is set to consider whether to hear an appeal of that decision, which applied a history-based test to rule that the government was powerless to disarm Rahimi under the domestic-violence law. The chances that the justices will agree to hear the case are good, reports the New York Times. The case would give the court a chance to explore the scope of its new test, which requires the government to identify historical analogues to justify laws limiting Second Amendment rights.


The case started in 2019 when Rahimi assaulted his girlfriend and threatened to shoot her if she told anyone, leading her to obtain a restraining order. The order suspended Rahimi’s handgun license and prohibited him from possessing firearms. Rahimi defied the order and proceeded to threaten a different woman with a gun, leading to charges of assault with a deadly weapon. In the space of two months, he opened fire in public five times. The shootings led to a search warrant of Rahimi’s home, which uncovered weapons, and he was charged with violating federal law. After a judge rejected his Second Amendment challenge to the law, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to more than six years in prison. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed his conviction, rejecting the argument that the law violated the Second Amendment in a footnote. The court reversed course after the Supreme Court issued a decision last June establishing a new test to decide whether gun control laws are constitutional, one focused on history. Under that test, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit ruled, the law prohibiting people subject to domestic-violence orders from possessing firearms violated the Second Amendment because there was no historical support for it.

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