SCOTUS will decide whether domestic abusers have a right to own guns, and whether their victims will live or die
WASHINGTON D.C. — Yesterday, March For Our Lives filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Rahimi, urging the court to overturn the Fifth Circuit’s decision that allowed domestic abusers to possess guns.
For decades, federal laws have protected families by preventing dangerous individuals who are subject to domestic violence restraining orders from owning a firearm. The government argued that based on this authority it could temporarily limit access to guns from people like Zackey Rahimi, who has a history of armed intimate partner violence, has fired guns several times in public spaces, and was indicted and accused of possessing guns and ammunition while subject to a restraining order.
However, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reinterpretation of the Second Amendment last year in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which caused national confusion and wreaked havoc in the courts, the Fifth Circuit Court overturned Mr. Rahimi’s conviction and struck down the federal law that prohibits those subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing guns. In June, MFOL was glad to see that the Supreme Court decided to take up Rahimi on its docket – giving the justices a chance to fix the mess they made in Bruen and uphold life-saving federal law.
Our brief, which can be viewed here, filed by Hogan Lovells on behalf of March For Our Lives, shares the important and powerful stories of several survivors of domestic violence involving firearms, and survivors of mass shootings committed by domestic violence perpetrators. In addition, our brief highlights the rich history and tradition of U.S. law that prevents dangerous individuals from accessing firearms, and the grave consequences for young people should the Court refuse to respect that history and reverse the Fifth Circuit’s decision.
“As a survivor of domestic abuse, who was shot twice by a previous intimate partner in front of my 4-year-old son, I know more than most how badly abusers need to be held to a much higher standard when it comes to access to firearms in this country,” said Kate Ranta, a survivor featured in the brief. “Allowing abusers unfettered access to guns is not only stupid and dangerous, but strips every other American of our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Giving an abuser a gun just turns them into an even deadlier abuser and there is no way the Second Amendment was written to arm already deadly people.”
“It’s not rocket science: giving domestic violence abusers access to firearms will have deadly consequences for their partners, women, children, and the general public,” said Makennan McBryde, 21, Legal Associate at March For Our Lives, who helped compile the brief. “Bruen blew up centuries of Second Amendment jurisprudence, and Rahimi is the consequence; abusers carrying guns and hurting people is the consequence. If the Supreme Court doesn’t overturn Rahimi, America’s already horrific gun violence epidemic will only get worse, and that’s exactly what our brief demonstrates for the court. The justices will have no choice but to face the survivors of domestic violence and gun violence, and every American, when they make their decision.”
“Hogan Lovells is honored to be filing this brief on behalf of the members of March For Our Lives across the country, young people who believe that the Constitution can and should be interpreted to allow the enactment of gun violence prevention measures that will better protect all Americans,” said Jonathan Diesenhaus, partner at Hogan Lovells. “The stories in this brief powerfully illustrate the devastating consequences brought about by gun violence at the hands of perpetrators of domestic violence. On a personal note, I was drawn to this pro bono work because my family, like so many others, has been impacted by the kind of gun violence Congress sought to prevent through the statute that is the subject of this appeal.”
March For Our Lives’ youth-led Judicial Advocacy Team, which is responsible for the creation of this brief, not only guides our legal strategy, but shows the world that judicial spaces can be a place for young people to create change. From spreading accessible information to promote constitutional literacy in young people, to filing revolutionary amicus briefs that center the stories of young lives impacted by gun violence and contributing to more than 20 other legal briefs–our work breaks down barriers of entry and democratizes the legal sphere.