Appeals court strikes down gun ban for people with domestic violence restraining orders

An appeals court panel on Thursday struck down a federal law banning people who have domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms.

The 5th Circuit three-judge panel, all nominated by Republican presidents, ruled that the law was no longer constitutional under the Supreme Court’s landmark expansion of Second Amendment rights last summer.

The Supreme Court justices ruled in the June New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen decision that firearm regulations must be consistent with the nation’s historical tradition, and that lower courts could no longer weigh the societal benefits of the policies.

That shift proved fatal for the law, which was upheld previously and prohibited those under domestic violence court orders from possessing firearms.

Zackey Rahimi, who previously pled guilty to charges under the provision, appealed his conviction after the high court’s decision.

“Through that lens, we conclude that § 922(g)(8)’s ban on possession of firearms is an ‘outlier that our ancestors would never have accepted.’ Therefore, the statute is unconstitutional, and Rahimi’s conviction under that statute must be vacated,” Judge Cory Wilson, a nominee of former President Trump, wrote.

Wilson and the other two judges, appointed by Trump and former President Reagan, pushed back on the Justice Department’s array of examples attempting to show a historical analogue for the law.

“Whether analyzed through the lens of Supreme Court precedent, or of the text, history and tradition of the Second Amendment, that statute is consitutional,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “Accordingly, the Department will seek further review of the Fifth Circuit’s contrary decision.”

The panel also rejected arguments that Rahimi was not entitled to Second Amendment protections because he was neither responsible nor law-abiding.

The challenge arose after Rahimi was found in possession of firearms while under a restraining order for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

“Rahimi, while hardly a model citizen, is nonetheless part of the political community entitled to the Second Amendment’s guarantees, all other things equal,” Wilson wrote.

The ruling marks one of the first major circuit court decisions after the Bruen ruling, which has shifted the landscape for legal battles over firearms.

Gun control and gun rights advocates are battling in the courts over new laws that ban firearms in so-called sensitive locations, pose restrictions for obtaining permits and increase liability for gun manufacturers.

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