Supreme Court Upholds Gun Restrictions For Domestic Violence Offenders

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 on Thursday to uphold federal restrictions that prohibit domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms, reaffirming the constitutionality of such measures under the Second Amendment.

The ruling in United States v. Rahimi addressed whether individuals with a history of domestic violence should be barred from owning firearms. The Court’s majority opinion stated that individuals deemed by a court to pose a credible threat to another’s physical safety could be temporarily disarmed.

“Since the Founding, the Nation’s firearm laws have included regulations to stop individuals who threaten physical harm to others from misusing firearms,” the opinion noted. “Section 922(g)(8) fits within this tradition, ensuring that those who present a clear threat of violence can be disarmed.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, concurring with the majority, emphasized that modern regulations need not have precise historical analogues but should be consistent with the principles underlying traditional regulatory practices. “Courts should consider whether the challenged regulation is consistent with the principles that underpin our regulatory tradition,” she wrote.

Dissenting, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the government’s justification for restricting firearm possession in such cases lacks a firm constitutional basis. He criticized the majority’s reliance on a broad interpretation of public safety needs. “The Court has never adopted the Government’s test that only ‘law-abiding and non-dangerous citizens’ are protected by the Second Amendment,” Thomas wrote.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in a concurring opinion, pointed out that constitutional rights have historically included exceptions. He referenced Chief Justice Rehnquist’s views on the flexibility of constitutional interpretation, noting that “constitutional rights generally come with exceptions” and that the government has long regulated speech and firearms within reasonable bounds.

The Supreme Court’s decision highlights the ongoing balance between individual gun rights and public safety concerns. By upholding these restrictions, the Court affirms that measures to disarm dangerous individuals are permissible under the Second Amendment. This ruling will likely impact future debates and policies regarding firearm regulations and domestic violence prevention.