By Bronson Winslow
A federal appeals court struck down a decades-old gun law Thursday that blocked people under domestic violence protection orders from possessing firearms, saying the law is unconstitutional after a new precedent for gun laws was set in a landmark Supreme Court decision.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth District ruled that the federal criminal statute did not fit “within our Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” a requirement for all gun laws set forth in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen (NYSRPA v. Bruen) case in June, according to the ruling. The law, established in 1994, blocked the transfer of a firearm to anyone who was placed under a court protective order for “harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner,” further saying that the aforementioned individual cannot possess a firearm or ammunition.
“The question presented in this case is not whether prohibiting the possession of firearms by someone subject to a domestic violence restraining order is a laudable policy goal. The question is whether 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), a specific statute that does so, is constitutional under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. In the light of N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111 (2022), it is not,” U.S. District Judge Cory Wilson wrote in the ruling.
The court’s decision came after an appeal was submitted in the United States of America v. Zackey Rahimi case, where Rahimi was charged for possessing a firearm while being under a domestic violence protective order, according to the ruling. Rahimi’s appeal claimed that his charges were unconstitutional in light of the precedent set by the NYSRPA v. Bruen case.
“We conclude that Bruen requires us to re-evaluate our Second Amendment jurisprudence and that under Bruen, § 922(g)(8) fails to pass constitutional muster. We therefore reverse the district court’s ruling to the contrary and vacate Rahimi’s conviction,” Wilson wrote in the ruling.
“In sum, our Founders envisioned a nation in which both citizen and sovereign alike play important roles in protecting the innocent against violent criminals. Our decision today is consistent with that vision. I concur,” Wilson wrote in the ruling.
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