Op-ed misrepresents upcoming Supreme Court case

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

By now, you may know that the Supreme Court is looking to take up another Second Amendment case. This one is set to be all kinds of controversial because it revolves around an accused domestic abuser.


As I noted earlier this week, though, the issue isn’t domestic abuse in and of itself. It’s about whether a restraining order should be enough reason to deny someone their Second Amendment rights.

But that won’t stop many from trying to claim otherwise.

These women were, relatively speaking, lucky: They survived. And they were the ones with the guns in their hands. But that’s not how these stories often turn out. Nearly half of murdered women in the United States are killed by a current or former partner — and half of those women are killed with guns.

America loves its firearms. Wives and girlfriends too often pay the price.

So I’m rooting for the Biden administration, which is taking a case at the intersection of domestic violence and gun rights all the way to the Supreme Court. The case involves a Texas man, Zackey Rahimi, who was convicted of possessing guns even though he was subject to a restraining order.

This is how he got the restraining order: In 2019, he knocked his girlfriend down in a public parking lot, dragged her to his car and violently forced her in, knocking her head on the dashboard. The woman escaped, but he later called and threatened to shoot her if she told anybody about the assault.

A federal appeals court overturned the gun possession conviction. Rahimi is “hardly a model citizen,” the court acknowledged, but he hadn’t been convicted of a felony and his Second Amendment rights took priority.

Now the Supreme Court will decide which matters more: gun rights or women’s safety.


Except that’s not what the case is about and the author knows it.

At the heart of the issue is whether or not a restraining order has sufficient due process to deprive someone of their right to keep and bear arms.

The truth is that few people are actually interested in advocating for the rights of convicted abusers. While I take issue with how that definition seems to be expanding, this ain’t where most of us are going to direct our energies.

See, restraining orders have a much lower burden of evidence. Judges will issue these restraining orders out of a sense of caution more than anything else. The accusation may well be enough to prompt such an order.

What the Supreme Court has to decide isn’t whether women’s safety matters but whether a restraining order actually meets the burdens necessary to justify restricting the Second Amendment rights of people accused of domestic violence.

I’ll note, however, that nowhere does the author advocate for domestic violence becoming a felony charge. Felonies automatically result in a loss of gun rights and I think few people would be really upset to see wife-beaters get a year or more in prison for their actions.

That’s not on the table, and I find that particularly telling.

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