The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), now a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline), is appalled by the ruling of a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in USA v. Rahimi. This ruling struck down lifesaving protections for survivors and put them at increased risk of abuse, injury, and death. In 1994, as part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Congress restricted certain people causing harm/abusers subject to final protection orders (issued after a hearing at which the respondent has an opportunity to appear) from possessing, receiving, shipping, or transporting firearms. These are dangerous people found by a court, based on evidence, to pose a substantial threat to the lives and/or safety of their victims and/or their victims’ children. In the 5th Circuit’s geographic jurisdiction, the court has now actively enabled abusers to have greater access to firearms, thereby greatly increasing the risk of potential gun violence against their victims.
“The judges of the 5th Circuit just sent a chilling message to victims and survivors throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi: They place more value on an abuser’s access to guns than a victim’s right to live a life free from violence, fear, and the constant threat of the use of firearms,” says NCADV/The Hotline’s President of Public Affairs, Ruth M. Glenn. “These judges discarded decades of progress in victims’ rights and have actively put survivors and their families in harm's way. We demand better for survivors and denounce this dangerous and inhumane ruling.”
These three judges were unable or unwilling to recognize that, according to the Supreme Court Ruling in NYSPRA v. Bruen, analogous historical laws do not have to be identical to the law under review to establish a sufficient historical precedent. On behalf of victims, survivors, and advocates across the country, we call on the full 5th Circuit to overturn this flawed ruling and to uphold the constitutionality of the federal law restricting abusers subject to final protective orders from having firearms.
More information about the intersection between domestic violence and firearms can be found here.