I’m going to start this off by saying what we almost have to say when talking about the Rahimi case, that the plaintiff in this case is not a good person. By all indications, he’s a terrible human being and not someone I’d want as part of my life.
But, our rights don’t exist only for those we approve of. They have to be protected for everyone, regardless of whether they’re a good person or not.
And Zachey Rahimi is such a person.
Now, his case is going to the Supreme Court, and a lot of people are blatantly misrepresenting it. They’re saying it’s about keeping domestic abusers disarmed, all while ignoring that the case doesn’t try to take on laws that rule those convicted of such offenses are prohibited from owning guns.
Because Rahimi wasn’t convicted of any such thing when he was charged with illegally possessing a gun. He just had a restraining order against him.
Over at The Federalist, John Lott gets into the real reason the Biden administration is fighting this so hard.
The administration wants Rahimi to lose this case so the court will deviate from its strict reading of the Constitution. That way, the outcome will set a precedent for lower court judges to decide on a case-by-case basis whether they like the laws legislatures have passed.
The reasoning behind protection orders is straightforward. If people subject to a civil restraining order are dangerous, prohibiting them from possessing firearms could save lives. On the other hand, if people under restraining orders are truly dangerous, are they really likely to obey such a law? Someone willing to commit a serious assault or murder is already facing a significant prison sentence, a life sentence, or the death penalty. The additional penalties for illegally obtaining a gun or violating a protective order are unlikely to provide deterrence. Indeed, despite his protection order, Rahimi still obtained a gun and used it in a crime.
The problem is that, with a low threshold for taking away a person’s guns, the possibility of making a mistake and taking away guns from innocent people is more likely. And it does not consider potential loopholes. For example, a partner who is a threat could get a judge to disarm his potential victim. Even peer-reviewed academic research shows that domestic violence protection orders do not generally affect or reduce the number of domestic gun murders or domestic murders.
Mistakes will happen, and law-abiding people will have their guns taken away. But there is a big difference between “beyond a reasonable doubt” — where the odds are 98 percent to 2 percent — that someone is dangerous and the “preponderance of the evidence” — possibly 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent.
Mistakes will also happen more often in civil cases when judges make decisions without a hearing or legal representation for the accused.
I couldn’t agree more.
See, what we also know is that judges are far more likely to issue a restraining order and be wrong than risk the ramifications of getting it wrong in the other direction. They’d have to live with the idea that they could have done something and didn’t, so they’re more likely to take claims far more seriously than they might otherwise.
A restraining order, even for domestic violence, isn’t due process. As Lott notes earlier in his piece, Rahimi didn’t get a lawyer as this wasn’t a criminal trial. He didn’t get any of the trappings of due process, really, despite there being a judge present.
Now, keep in mind that his right to keep and bear arms was taken from him in a situation where he really wasn’t equipped to defend himself in court.
Again, Rahimi isn’t a good person, which we can clearly see by his later actions. Yet should he have been barred from his right to keep and bear arms in such circumstances?
It’s easy to say yes and point to his later issues, but we need to remember that this case isn’t about Rahimi as a person. It’s about the right he was stripped of without conviction of a crime, one that many innocent people have been stripped of in the same circumstance.
The Biden administration, however, likes it when people can be stripped of their gun rights so easily. They want to create an environment where anyone can be disarmed over what amounts to “he said/she said” evidence.
The sooner we get used to our gun rights being second-class rights, the better for the Biden administration and anti-gun administrations yet to come.