Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Solano, chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, has submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, calling on the high court justices to reject a lower court ruling that the federal ban on gun possession by people subject to a domestic violence restraining order violates the Second Amendment.
In a press statement issued Monday, Thompson noted he and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. — with the support of nearly 170 other federal lawmakers — filed the “friend of the court” brief, calling for the repudiation of the Fifth Circuit Court’s Feb. 2 decision in the United States v. Rahimi, “to set a clear standard that allows for Congress to pass laws that keep the American people safe.”
The Fifth Circuit’s ruling in Rahimi is “one of the many disturbing decisions concerning gun violence that have been influenced by the recent Bruen decision,” he noted in the prepared statement and referred to a June 23, 2022, decision by the high court.
In the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, the justices ruled 6-3 to strike down New York’s century-old public carry licensing law and, thus, signaled a new framework for evaluating Second Amendment challenges.
“The Fifth Circuit’s ruling in the Rahimi case has tragic and dangerous implications for people in domestic violence situations,” said Thompson. “I believe it is the responsibility of Congress to ensure that our laws protect the most vulnerable among us. The availability of firearms to be possessed by individuals with domestic violence restraining orders can escalate domestic violence and increase the risk of death or serious injury — the Supreme Court must not allow this to happen.”
Added Blumenthal, “Domestic violence restraining orders which prohibit gun possession are neither a novel nor partisan idea — they are a straightforward legal tool to protect survivors at the moment when their abusers are most dangerous. Forty-three states — red, purple, and blue — and Congress have all passed some form of this prohibitor with the same objective: keeping domestic violence survivors and their family members alive. There is absolutely no sane legal argument for striking down” Rahimi.
The court records show the defendant in United States v. Rahimi was suspected of five shootings in Texas between 2020 and 2021. Police searched his home and found multiple firearms. He was subject to a domestic violence restraining order, which prevented him from owning a firearm under federal law.
According to Thompson, the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit agreed to rehear his case after the Bruen decision and applied the new “history and tradition” legal test. The court found that the federal statute was not sufficiently similar to any historical laws raised by the government. The prosecutor presented numerous historical laws that disarmed individuals dating from the Colonial Period.
The court thought these laws were aimed at “preserving political and social order, and not protecting an identified person from a specific threat posed by another,” Thompson pointed out in the prepared statement.
If the Fifth Circuit decision in Rahimi is upheld, it could “open the floodgates to domestic violence abusers and other dangerous people seeking to possess firearms,” he added.
The amicus brief, also signed by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker emeritus Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, is endorsed by Brady, Everytown for Gun Safety, Gabby Giffords, and March For Our Lives.
In a no-surprise reaction, the National Rifle Association welcomed the high court’s decision in Bruen, affirming, according to NRA officials, that the right to bear arms does not stop at a person’s front door.
Thompson, a longtime hunter and gun owner, represents California’s 4th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Solano, Yolo, Lake, Napa, and Sonoma counties. He is a senior member of the House Committee on Ways and Means.