2A Advocates, Gun Control Activists React to Supreme Court's Decision in Rahimi

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Both sides in the gun control debate are reacting to the Supreme Court's decision in Rahimi upholding a temporary ban on firearm possession for those subject to a domestic violence restraining order, and so far Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts wins the award for hottest take of the day. 


If the Supreme Court had followed Watts' advice and declined to take up the Rahimi case, then the Fifth Circuit's decision would have remained intact, and Zachey Rahimi's conviction for possessing a firearm while under an active domestic violence restraining order would have been thrown out. 

I don't think that's what Watts was hoping to see, but why let the facts get in the way of one of the left's favorite pastimes: bashing SCOTUS. 

Second Amendment groups are also weighing in on today's decision; some looking for the silver linings in the 8-1 opinion, and some warning of the dangers that could come as a result. 

Rahimi didn't offer an explicit endorsement of Extreme Risk Protection Orders, but by ruling that "When an individual has been found by a court to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another, that individual may be temporarily disarmed consistent with the Second Amendment" the Court certainly made it more difficult to challenge "red flag" laws. That's just the reality of the ruling, as painful as it may be to accept. 

The Second Amendment Foundation said in a statement that the ruling "failed to produce the damage the anti-gun crowd hoped for against Bruen," but admitted that "while the Court may have arrived at a conclusion that society believes to be best, it did so in a manner that poses some inconsistencies with what Bruen demands."


As Justice Thomas wrote “the question before us is not whether Rahimi and others like him can be disarmed consistent with the Second Amendment. Instead, the question is whether the Government can strip the Second Amendment right of anyone subject to a protective order – even if he has never been accused or convicted of a crime.” Stripping an individual of their Second Amendment rights, when they have not been accused or convicted of a crime, is not consistent with what the Constitution protects. 

The Court’s justification in upholding the law by cobbling together bits and pieces of historical laws to find a “historical analogue” may allow future courts to uphold various infringements on the Second Amendment by the same sort of manufacture.

While Rahimi himself is the focal point of this case, the unintended consequences of how the Court justified upholding 922(g)(8) may affect the Second Amendment rights of millions of Americans if the lower courts adopt a similar approach. This makes it all the more important the Court take any number of other Second Amendment cases at its door, to further clarify that the Second Amendment protects a pre-existing, fundamental individual right and how to appropriately conduct the analysis Bruen requires.

Gun Owners of America took a similar approach in their response to Rahimi.


"So for those people to lose their rights, even for a temporary period of time, is a disgrace. If someone is dangerous, charge them with a real crime, convict them in a court of law, and get them out of society”, said GOA's Erich Pratt. 


The Firearms Policy also weighed in with a statement late Friday afternoon: 

"As we explained in our amicus brief, the federal government has no constitutional authority to impose gun control on peaceable individuals at all, let alone the statute at issue in this case. While we disagree with the Court’s holding and dispute federal authority to enforce this regulation, we are encouraged that the Court confirmed the textual and historical analysis required under its Heller and Bruen decisions. We will continue to eliminate disarmament schemes and restore the right to keep and bear arms through our high-impact FPC Law strategic litigation program and other efforts."

***Original story follows***

Second Amendment advocate and attorney Mark W. Smith calls the Rahimi decision a "win" for gun owners, with the caveat that "Sometimes losing less badly' in a war has to be treated as a win.

Let me be very clear about this case. We were NEVER GOING TO WIN THIS CASE at the Supreme Court. They were never going to rule that the entirety of 922g8 was unconstitutional in a very-hard to satisfy Facial Challenge. Nor would they let Mr. Rahimi have guns given his record and admissions on the record after a judicial hearing. Merrick Garland/Biden knew this, which is why the expedited the case to SCOTUS ahead of all other 2A cases (Think: non-violent felon case of Range). Thus, in the real world (and not in my fantasy, perfect world), I think that so long as Team 2A prevented Garland/Biden from destroying the Bruen "text first, history second" methodology, it is a win. Sometimes "losing less badly" in a war has to be treated as a win.


Mmmm.... maybe. The "text, history, and tradition" test survived Rahimi, but the question is whether it was weakened to the point that judges can declare almost any historical statute analogous to a modern gun law, no matter how tenuous the connection between the two. 

I know the majority opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts ostensibly rejects that in theory, but as Justice Thomas argued in his dissent, if the statutes that are cited are materially different than the modern law being challenged, then what's the point of looking to history in the first place? 

Still, Moros is among those who sees at least some positives in the majority opinion. 

Rahimi could easily have been worse than it was, but I'm not quite ready to embrace Mark. W. Smith's "losing less badly is a win" mentality. The Court has opened the door to even more abusive decisions in the future, and until it hears and strikes down laws dealing with bans on commonly-owned firearms and magazines, along with the post-Bruen carry abuses in states like California and New York, I'm deeply concerned that today's decision will undo much of the progress we've made over the past fifteen years. 


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