Maryland Legal Aid and Texas Advocacy Project Applauds Supreme Court Ruling in USA vs Rahimi

BALTIMORE, MD, JUNE 21, 2024 – Today, the Supreme Court of the United States delivered a ruling in the case of USA vs Rahimi, upholding the constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), which prohibits individuals subject to domestic-violence restraining orders from possessing firearms. This case originated in Texas, highlighting the state’s pivotal role in shaping national policy on domestic violence.

  • Two-thirds of women killed by an intimate partner are killed with a gun.1
  • Access to a gun makes it 5x more likely that a woman will die at the hands of a domestic abuser.2
  • Every month, an average of 70 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner.3

We commend the Court for its decision, which prioritizes the safety and protection of domestic violence survivors across the nation. This ruling reaffirms the critical importance of firearm restrictions for individuals who pose a significant threat to their intimate partners. Restraining orders are a vital tool in safeguarding victims of domestic violence, and the prohibition on firearm possession by abusers under these orders is an essential component of these protections.

In 2023, Texas Advocacy Project and a coalition* of dedicated non-profit organizations across the nation filed an amicus brief in US v. Rahimi to advocate for the safety and protection of domestic violence survivors through appropriate firearm regulations. The brief, submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, addressed the Fifth Circuit’s ruling and emphasized the importance of preventing individuals who have committed or threatened family violence from accessing firearms during the period they are under a protective order.

“We are immensely grateful for the Supreme Court’s recognition of th inherent dangers faced by domestic violence survivors,” said Heather Bellino, Chief Executive Officer of Texas Advocacy Project. “In Texas, where the intersection of domestic violence and firearm access is a pressing issue, this decision is crucial. It ensures that those who have been deemed a threat cannot possess firearms, thereby reducing the risk of further harm or fatality.”

Bronwyn Blake, Chief Legal Officer of Texas Advocacy Project, added, “This ruling is a monumental step forward in protecting the lives of domestic violence survivors in Texas and beyond. It underscores the necessity of strong legal measures to prevent abusers from accessing firearms, which are too often used to perpetuate violence. Our commitment to providing legal and social services to those in need remains unwavering.”

Amee Vora, Advocacy Director for Family Law of Maryland Legal Aid shared, “Maryland Legal Aid is thrilled that the Supreme Court has upheld laws requiring perpetrators of domestic violence to surrender their firearms after a restraining order is entered against them. The link between firearms and domestic violence is undeniable and deadly. The countless survivors of domestic violence we represent have long relied on the firearm removal provisions of protective orders in their pursuit of safety, and we are thankful that they will continue to benefit from these laws.”

The intersection of domestic violence and firearm access is well-documented, with numerous studies4 showing a significant increase in the likelihood of homicide when abusers have access to guns. Today’s ruling is a crucial step in our ongoing efforts to protect survivors and prevent domestic violence-related fatalities. We urge state and federal lawmakers to build on this victory by strengthening laws and resources aimed at preventing domestic violence and supporting survivors. Together, we can create a safer and more just society for all.