Fitzpatrick, colleagues urge SCOTUS to uphold gun bans in domestic violence cases

The U.S. Supreme Court should uphold a federal law that allows people under domestic restraining orders to be banned from carrying firearms, said U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and two of his Democratic colleagues in an amicus brief filed in a pending U.S. Supreme Court case.

“I’m proud to lead this bipartisan amicus brief that makes clear that there exists strong congressional intent and history supporting restrictions on domestic abusers from obtaining firearms,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said in an Aug. 23 statement. “It is possible to support the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens while ensuring that firearms are not in the hands of dangerous, violent individuals like domestic abusers.”

In June, the High Court agreed to decide whether a 1994 federal law that bars people under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms violates the Constitution’s Second Amendment. They will hear an appeal by the Biden administration of a lower court’s ruling that found the law ran afoul of the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms” because it fell outside “our nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick, who was joined by U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in filing an amicus brief in the pending United States v. Rahimi case, assert that Congress enacted the firearm prohibition for individuals subject to a restraining order nearly three decades ago after being presented compelling evidence that domestic violence was a pervasive and persisting problem in the U.S., according to their brief.

It was concluded on a bipartisan basis, the lawmakers said, that individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders pose an immediate danger to those closest to them and shouldn’t have easy access to firearms. 

Not only does this align with a centuries-old tradition of legislatures regulating firearm access to those posing the greatest risk of danger, which has historically been deemed consistent with the Second Amendment, but the law also has proven successful in reducing spousal homicides, their brief says.

“The data on firearms and domestic abuse is clear. We know perpetrators of violence use firearms to exert power and control over their victims, and access to a firearm increases the risk of intimate partner homicide at least five-fold,” said Rep. Dingell. “Survivors with protection orders deserve full protection and safety under the law, and we have a responsibility to provide that peace of mind and safety by keeping weapons out of the hands of their abusers, as is currently the law.”