It was only a year ago that the Supreme Court issued a landmark Second Amendment opinion that expanded gun rights nationwide and established that firearms rules must be consistent with the nation’s “historical tradition.”
Majority opinion author Justice Clarence Thomas infuriated supporters of gun control and elated advocates of gun rights but also generated confusion among lower court judges who found themselves reconsidering thousands of firearms rules.
Now, on Tuesday, the justices will gather again, in the wake of yet another mass shooting, to consider the scope of its 2022 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, this time in the context of domestic violence.
The Supreme Court is considering a section of federal law that bars an individual subject to a domestic violence restraining order from possessing a firearm.
The Supreme Court’s ultimate decision could impact almost every type of gun control law, including one that President Joe Biden’s own son is charged with violating.
“Rahimi offers a chance for the justices to clarify aspects of Bruen’s test that have divided lower courts – including how judges should assess the historical tradition of gun regulation and how closely modern laws must mirror those that existed during the Founding Era,” said Andrew M. Willinger of the Duke University School of Law.
Lower courts have cited Bruen in cases blocking laws restricting the use of concealed firearms, prohibiting guns in houses of worship and banning assault weapons.
Last month in California, for instance, a federal judge struck down an assault weapon ban the state argued was needed to prevent mass shooters from acquiring those weapons. Many of the banned guns, the judge said, are also commonly used by “law-abiding” citizens for self-defense.
“California’s answer to the criminal misuse of a few is to disarm its many good residents. That knee-jerk reaction is constitutionally untenable, just as it was 250 years ago,” Judge Roger Benitez wrote.
Read more ahead of the Supreme Court case on gun ownership here.