Monday, February 6, 2023

5th Circuit Opinion Strikes Down Federal Law Prohibiting Individuals from Possessing Guns if Subject to a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

The Fifth Circuit issued an opinion in United States v. Rahimi. It ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right to possess a gun even for those subject to a restraining order for domestic violence relying heavily on the Supreme Court's 2022 decision in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen

It held that: 

The Government fails to demonstrate that § 922(g)(8)’s restriction of the Second Amendment right fits within our Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. The Government’s proffered analogues falter under one or both of the metrics the Supreme Court articulated in Bruen as the baseline for measuring “relevantly similar” analogues: “how and why the regulations burden a law-abiding citizen’s right to armed self-defense.” * * *  As a result, § 922(g)(8) falls outside the class of firearm regulations countenanced by the Second Amendment.

* * * 

Doubtless, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8) embodies salutary policy goals meant to protect vulnerable people in our society. Weighing those policy goals’ merits through the sort of means-end scrutiny our prior precedent indulged, we previously concluded that the societal benefits of § 922(g)(8) outweighed its burden on Rahimi’s Second Amendment rights. But Bruen forecloses any such analysis in favor of a historical analogical inquiry into the scope of the allowable burden on the Second Amendment right. 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.

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