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The Second Amendment Battle_ Domestic Abuse Case Poses Threat to Gun Future Legislation.pdf (72.36 kB)

The Second Amendment Battle: Domestic Abuse Case Poses Threat to Gun Future Legislation

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posted on 2023-11-20, 19:58 authored by Nandana Kumar

In the intricate world of gun legislation in the US, the anticipated ruling by the Supreme Court in the Zackey Rahimi case just may redefine the restrictions on where gun owners can carry their firearms. This legal battle was sparked by Rahimi, who argues that his Second Amendment rights were violated by a law prohibiting individuals under domestic violence restraining orders from owning a firearm. The 2022 New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass'n v. Bruen ruling provides the backdrop to this legal dispute, which revolves around Rahimi's claim that a law preventing those under a domestic violence restraining order from owning a firearm violated his Second Amendment rights [1]. The court's decision in Rahimi's case will have significant repercussions for the country's overall gun laws, which the legal community is currently awaiting.

This discussion has been significantly shaken by the Supreme Court’s decisions and most notably its decision in the Bruen case which occurred in 2022. Though retaining the right to carry a gun outside, the court in Bruen basically changed the yardstick by which other firearm-related cases will be solved, it differed from the conventional approach which measured whether a person had the freedom to bear arms against the state’s interest in public welfare [2]. By rejecting the traditional approach of weighing a person's right to carry concealed weapons against the state's interest in public safety, Bruen placed the burden of proof on the government to demonstrate that legislation restricting access to firearms is consistent with the historical history of firearm regulation in the nation.

Nevertheless, according to attorneys such as Adam Winkler, an associate law professor at UCLA, the anticipated clarity and manageability promised by the new criteria have yet to manifest in practice. The problem with applying the Bruen test is its unpredictable record in different courtrooms. Courts have been forced to maneuver ambiguous historical comparisons, as well as constitutional interpretations.

Lack of precise guidance on how closely a challenged gun regulation must match a historical equivalent in order to fulfill the court's requirements is a key issue arising from Bruen. According to constitutional law expert Lawrence Solum, judges have been compelled to make subjective decisions in the absence of a uniform criterion, which has led to inconsistent outcomes in different situations. When judges bring different viewpoints on gun control to the bench, this heterogeneity becomes particularly problematic.

The ambiguity caused by Bruen is especially noticeable in instances contesting legislation that limits the possession of firearms in certain "sensitive places." Recent rulings in other jurisdictions, including New Jersey and New York, highlight the ambiguity around what constitutes a sensitive location and how historical comparisons should be made to current legislation. Chief Judge Renée Marie Bumb of New Jersey ordered the state to stop enforcing laws that forbade the ownership of firearms in certain places, citing the shortcomings of prior cases. On the other hand, a similar legal challenge to the sensitive places legislation was met with a different response in New York. These differences show how difficult it was for lower courts to consistently interpret and apply the Bruen decision [3].

Even though Rahimi's case does not directly concern sensitive location laws, legal experts think that the Supreme Court may use this chance to further explain the level of resemblance required between a gun law and its historical predecessor in order to pass the Bruen test. Expert in constitutional law Melissa Murray says that an exact match standard might make it more difficult for the government to enforce domestic violence laws. Applying the Bruen test would be more challenging because the historical context of such legislation might not cleanly accord with contemporary understandings.

As the Supreme Court prepares to issue its decision in Rahimi's case, the stakes are high for the entire picture of gun policy in the United States. The choice might provide the historical research required by the Bruen test the much-needed direction it needs, which in turn could affect a number of existing gun laws, particularly those governing sensitive areas. The ongoing fight to strike a balance between Second Amendment rights and public safety is exacerbated by every legal dispute, and this conflict will have an impact on how gun regulations change in the years to come.



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