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Texas Case in U.S. Supreme Court Questions Firearms Ban for Individuals Convicted of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Gun Restriction

A Texas case being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court is focusing on the question of whether someone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense should lose their right to possess a firearm if the underlying incident did not involve physical contact. 

In United States v. Rahimi, defendant Zackey Rahimi was the subject of a protective order that was issued after he had engaged in a parking-lot argument with his girlfriend, who is also the mother of his child. One provision of the order suspended Rahimi’s handgun license and barred him from owning a firearm. Later, Rahimi was arrested in connection with a series of incidents where shots were fired. When police searched his home pursuant to warrant, they found two firearms, seemingly in violation of the protective order. 

Under federal law, individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses from possessing firearms. Rahimi’s argument is that his conviction for misdemeanor domestic assault did not constitute a disqualifying offense under federal law based on the new standard set forth by the Supreme Court in its 2023 New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen decision. The High Court in that case said that the analysis of safety concerns versus Second Amendment rights should be conducted by assessing whether the particular restriction is in line with historical tradition.

The Fifth Circuit agreed with Rahimi’s argument and said that the law prohibiting him from possessing a firearm is invalid. Proponents of gun rights hailed the decision and its reasoning that restrictions should be narrowly tailored and based on clear statutory language to avoid infringing on Second Amendment rights. They contend that misdemeanor convictions for non-violent offenses should not automatically result in the loss of firearm rights, especially when the underlying conduct does not involve physical harm or the use of a weapon.

How the Supreme Court decides Rahimi has the potential to shape the legal landscape surrounding various gun and weapon charges, not just those relating to domestic violence convictions. Restrictions on firearms in churches or school zones might also fail to satisfy the Bruen test. 

If you’ve been accused of a weapons-related crime, The Law Firm of Richard L. Ellison, P.C. in Kerrville can advise you of the latest legal developments and how they might affect your case. To schedule a consultation with a Board-certified Texas criminal law attorney, please call 830-955-8168 or contact me online