The Department of Justice filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a review of a lower court’s decision that invalidated a federal law banning people with domestic violence restraining orders from owning firearms.
The Fifth U.S. Court of Appeals has a three-judge panel. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that domestic violence victims who have been placed under restraining orders can still possess firearms under their Constitutional rights. It also found that the federal law that prohibited them was invalid under New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen.
Attorney General Merrick Garland promised to challenge the Fifth Circuit’s decision. The Justice Department (DOJ), in its petition, argues that there is a legal tradition in America and England of disarming those who pose a threat to the community or threaten to harm others.
“In accordance with that history, the Court explained in Heller the right to keep an arm in the hands of ‘law-abiding and responsible citizens’,” the DOJ wrote. It argued that the federal law in issue “fits squarely within a long-standing tradition disarming dangerous persons.”
United States v. Zackey Rahimi concerns a man who was subject to a civil protective order which prohibited him from stalking, harassing, or threatening his ex-girlfriend and their child. He was also prohibited from owning guns.
Texas police found a gun and a rifle in the home of the man. A federal grand jury indicted him and he pleaded guilty. Later, he challenged his indictment and argued that the law that prohibited him from possessing a firearm was unconstitutional.
He lost his case before the federal appeals court. They ruled that it was more important to prevent guns from being used against domestic violence victims than to safeguard a person’s right to own a firearm.
The appeals court overturned the conviction of the man after the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision. This set new standards for the interpretation of the Second Amendment. The court found that the federal law prohibiting domestic violence victims from possessing firearms is not consistent with the nation’s historic tradition of firearm regulation.
DOJ claims that the Fifth Circuit made a mistake because it ignored the historical evidence that supports the general principle that government may disarm dangerous people. Instead, the court examined each historical statute separately.
Garland had already condemned the Fifth Circuit opinion and issued a statement the day it was published.
The attorney general stated that the statute was constitutional regardless of whether it is analyzed using Supreme Court precedent or the text, history, and tradition of Amendment 2.