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Opinion: Supreme Court Confronts Its Own 'Failure' In Gun Case

The next gun-rights case to be heard by the Supreme Court is a Second Amendment challenge stemming from a Texas state judge’s order, issuing a domestic-violence restraining order to Zackey Rahimi and banned him from possessing a gun, as is federal law for anyone who is the subject of a domestic-violence restraining order. Rahimi was found in possession of a gun, convicted of violating the ban, and sent to federal prison. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the federal ban is unconstitutional on its face, because it allows someone to be disarmed before they are actually convicted of a violent crime. Yet, as columnist Ian Millhiser writes for Vox, the case involves an extremely violent individual – “an individual that no sensible society would allow to have a gun.” And if the Fifth Circuit’s decision is upheld by the Supreme Court, Millhiser note, “this federal ban on firearm possession by domestic abusers may never be applied to any individual, no matter how violent that individual may be and no matter how careful the court that issued a restraining order against such an individual was in ensuring that they received due process."

Millhiser summarizes Rahimi’s long, long rap sheet and all of its shootings in detail, starting with the domestic-violence incident, a heated argument with his girlfriend in a parking lot where he threatened to take away their mutual child, then grabbed her wrist, knocked her to the ground, dragged her to the car, hit her head on the dashboard. He also fired at an innocent bystander who had witnessed the beating and called his girlfriend and threatened to shoot her if she disclosed the assault. There are safeguards in place to protect gun owners' rights. Federal law does not disarm anyone unless a court has either explicitly determined that they are a violent threat to their partner or to a child, or implicitly made such a determination by prohibiting them from engaging in violence against that partner or child. Last February, a federal appeals court held that Rahimi and other domestic abusers have a constitutional right to bear arms. On November 7, the Supreme Court will consider whether this decision was appropriate.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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