Should Known Domestic Violence Offenders Be Allowed to Own Firearms?
On November 7, the Supreme Court will hear the appeal of the decision in United States v. Rahimi, a case that will not only have implications for how we support survivors of domestic violence in Delaware and across the country, but also for the safety of all Americans.
Here’s the background to the case: Zackey Rahimi was found guilty of possessing a firearm while under a domestic violence restraining order in Texas, which was issued after he assaulted his partner in a parking lot and fired a gun. when he noticed the witnesses. Rahimi challenged the law, claiming that domestic violence restraining orders violate his personal right to bear arms, protected by the Second Amendment.
In its decision to side with Rahimi, the Fifth Circuit Court relied heavily on the idea established in the Bruen case that any restrictions on firearms must be part of a “historical tradition of regulation,” before determining that restrictions based on domestic violence protection orders were unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court must now consider whether to reverse much of the progress made in combating lethal domestic violence in the United States. In Delaware and across the country, firearms remain the leading cause of death in intimate family violence. Nationally, a survivor is five times more likely to die when her partner has access to a firearm.
Restricting the use of firearms as part of protective orders has been effective in reducing intimate partner deaths. It is disappointing that the Fifth Circuit has not considered the effects these restrictions may have in protecting the public from (as they put it) “poorly responsible and law-abiding gun owners,” particularly considering the links between domestic violence and domestic violence. massive. shootings. The Supreme Court is faced with choosing a strict text-based approach that would make our families less safe and roll back the progress women have made.
The Fifth Circuit is correct that our understanding of domestic violence and the harm it causes has evolved over time. When the Second Amendment was written, the age of consent for sexual activity in Delaware was 10 years old. Marital rape was not even partially outlawed in Delaware until 1974. Only recently has research been done to demonstrate the chronic, long-term health effects of domestic violence, as well as the harm it causes to children. We now understand that domestic violence has lifelong effects and creates generational cycles of trauma.
The Second Amendment should not be interpreted through a strict 18th century vacuum. Doing so prevents lawmakers from incorporating the awareness and understanding of violence against women that our society has gained since the Revolutionary War.
In the most recent legislative session, Delaware passed laws that would allow those who have abused their pets or financially controlled their partners to restrict the use of firearms, reflecting recent realization that these behaviors often lead to increased of violence and abuse. Because gun rights protections in the Delaware Constitution have been so closely tied to the Second Amendment, it is essential that the Delaware legislature continue to clarify that our Constitution must be interpreted with a more modern understanding of public safety and the scourge of violence. domestic violence. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will not act to undermine Delaware’s work to protect the most vulnerable.
The Rahimi case should be a call to action to protect our community here in Delaware.