The Supreme Court is considering a major case on gun rights and domestic violence

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday about whether the government can disarm people subject to domestic violence orders.

The question is important, of course, because studies have shown that the combination of an argument and a firearm can be deadly. This was recognized by the Supreme Court itself 2014 majority opinion. “Too often, the only difference between a battered woman and a dead woman is the presence of a gun,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the court, quoting the lawmaker.

But the potential momentum of the decision in the new case goes far beyond domestic violence. It will almost certainly make a significant statement about the meaning of last year’s ruling that greatly expanded the right of people to bear arms in public.

The argument comes as the nation struggles to deal with a seemingly endless series of mass shootings, including a recent one in Maine that left 18 dead.

In last year’s decision, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, the court struck down a New York law that strictly limited the carrying of guns outside the home by a 6-3 vote. He also announced a new legal standard, whose reliance on historical practice has sown confusion as courts have struggled to apply it and some judges have struck down gun control laws that have been on the books for decades.

The majority opinion in Bruen, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, said courts must now judge restrictions on gun rights by turning to early American history as a guide. “The government must demonstrate,” he wrote, “that the regulation is consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearms regulation.”

new case, United States v. Rahimino. 22-915, gives the court an opportunity to explore the scope of that new test.

It’s about Zackey Rahimi, a Texas drug dealer with a history of gun violence. He is “hardly a model citizen,” a federal appeals court judge wrote in March. However, the court overturned the conviction of Mr. Rahimi under a federal law that makes it a crime for people subject to domestic violence orders to have guns, ruling that the law violated the Second Amendment.

The appeals court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, rejected a series of old laws the government identified as possible historical analogs, saying they did not closely resemble one related to domestic violence orders. Many of them, Judge Cory T. Wilson he wrote for the panel, “disarmed classes of people considered dangerous, especially including non-sworn, slaves, and Indians.”

That was different, he wrote, than domestic violence orders, which make case-by-case judgments about a particular person’s dangerousness.

Administration lawyers have questioned that distinction. “It would be bizarre,” they told the justices, “if legislatures could disarm dangerous individuals based on categorical presumptions, but not based on individualized judicial findings after notice and hearing.”

Judge Wilson, who was appointed by President Donald J. Trump, wrote that the government’s insistence that it can disarm people who do not obey the law “does not recognize that there is no genuine limiting principle.”

“Can speeders be deprived of the right to keep and carry weapons?” asked. “Political non-conformists? People who don’t recycle or drive an electric vehicle?”

Judge James C. Hoalso appointed by Mr. Trump, issued a concurring opinion saying there are other ways to protect victims of domestic abuse.

“Those who commit violence, including domestic violence,” he wrote, “should not only be disarmed – they should be detained, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned.” And that is exactly why we have the criminal justice system – to punish criminals and prevent them from committing further crimes.”

However, Judge Ho said domestic violence orders were a product of the civil justice system and were subject to abuse.

“It makes it difficult to justify” the law that Mr. Rahimi challenged, he wrote, “as a measure to disarm dangerous individuals.”

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