US Supreme Court Appears Likely to Preserve a Federal Gun Law

Based on public comments and questions from the justices this week, it appears likely the high court will uphold the statute.
US Supreme Court Appears Likely to Preserve a Federal Gun Law
United States Supreme Court Justices pose for their official portrait at the Supreme Court in Washington on Oct. 7, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

The U.S. Supreme Court appears likely to preserve a federal gun law that bars individuals under certain types of domestic violence restraining orders from possessing guns.

The top court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in the case United States v. Rahimi, which looks at the legality of the federal statute. The Fifth U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Zackey Rahimi, who carried out multiple shootings while he had a restraining order against him, and the court cited the Supreme Court’s 6–3 ruling in the landmark case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which established that people have the constitutional right to carry a gun for self-defense outside the home.

During this week’s oral arguments, the justices asked Mr. Rahimi’s lawyer J. Matthew Wright a number of questions that suggested a majority may rule in favor of the government. “You don’t have any doubt that your client is a dangerous person, do you?” Republican-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts asked Mr. Wright.

When Mr. Wright said it depends on what Justice Roberts meant by dangerous, the chief justice responded with, “Well, it means someone who’s shooting, you know, at people. That’s a good start,” according to The Associated Press.

In the hearing, Republican-appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh voiced concern that a ruling in favor of Mr. Rahimi could also jeopardize the federal background check system for firearms that’s been in place for decades.

Justice Elena Kagan, on the court’s perceived liberal wing and an Obama appointee, told Mr. Wright: “I feel like you’re running away from your argument.” And Trump-appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett also told Mr. Wright she was “so confused” by the lawyer’s statements and questioned why the lawyer was arguing in favor of Mr. Rahimi having the ability to own firearms.

“I mean, it just seems to me,” Justice Kagan said, “that your argument applies to a wide variety” of gun laws “that we take for granted now because it’s so obvious that people who have guns pose a great danger to others.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, questioned Mr. Wright’s argument that there are no due process rights regarding domestic violence protective orders. He asked, “Is that really the position you want to take?”

The Biden administration has urged the Supreme Court to uphold the domestic violence law and strike down the Fifth Appeals Court’s ruling that she claimed was a “misreading” of the top court’s 2022 Bruen order.

But Justice Samuel Alito, a Bush appointee, had concerns for people who might be subject to restraining orders, saying that someone could receive such an order without “any finding of dangerousness” before they’re blocked from possessing a firearm.

“Now suppose someone is later prosecuted for violating that provision, would it be a defense for that person to say that the state law in question did not require such a finding and, in fact, there was no such finding in my case?” he asked U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar.


Mr. Rahimi, who lived near Fort Worth, Texas, hit his girlfriend during an argument in a parking lot and then fired a gun at a witness in December 2019, according to court papers. Later, Mr. Rahimi called the girlfriend and threatened to shoot her if she told anyone about the assault, the Justice Department wrote in its Supreme Court brief.

The girlfriend obtained a protective order against him in Tarrant County in February 2020. Eleven months later, Mr. Rahimi was a suspect in shootings when police searched his apartment and found guns. He eventually pleaded guilty to violating federal law. The appeals court overturned that conviction when it struck down the law. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Biden administration’s appeal.

Ahead of the arguments, Mr. Rahimi reportedly wrote a letter to the court to apologize for going down the “wrong path” and said he wouldn’t carry a firearm. “I will make sure for sure this time that when I finish my time being incarcerated to stay the faithful, righteous person I am this day,” he wrote.

The 5th Circuit ruled that under the Bruen ruling, the federal law did not align with the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment and there was no historical precedent to suggest that it was in line with the history and tradition in the United States.

The Biden administration, in court papers filed with the Supreme Court, argued that the law disarms people “who pose a danger of armed violence” and does not restrict possession of guns by law-abiding individuals.

But some lawyers say that the federal rule circumvents due process. “The way we were going about determining who were dangerous classes of individuals was repugnant. But the concept that we as a society have accepted, removing firearms rights from people who are in fact dangerous, well, that’s existed since about 1640,” William Kirk, a lawyer with the Washington-state-based firm Washington Gun Law, told The Epoch Times earlier this week.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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