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AG Takes Action to Stop Domestic Abusers from Getting Guns


New York Attorney General Letitia James and a multistate coalition on Friday took action to prevent individuals who are under a domestic violence restraining order from accessing guns and to protect governmental authority to impose these protections.

In an amicus brief filed in the United States Supreme Court, the coalition of 25 attorneys general urged the Supreme Court to hear the case United States v. Rahimi. In this case, the defendant, Zakey Rahimi, was under a domestic violence restraining order in Texas for assaulting and shooting a firearm at his girlfriend, which legally barred him from possessing guns under both state and federal law. Rahimi was subsequently involved in multiple shootings and was indicted for possession of a firearm while under a domestic violence restraining order. He challenged the federal statute and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued an opinion earlier this year holding that the Second Amendment prohibits disarming persons under orders of protection for domestic violence. The coalition of 25 attorneys general is asking the Supreme Court to hear the case and overrule the lower court.

“It is common sense that people who are under active restraining orders for domestic violence should not be able to get guns,” said Attorney General James. “This is a basic protection that states and the federal government have long imposed, and the efforts to undo this law will have grave consequences for survivors of domestic abuse, law enforcement, and the general public. States must have the ability to protect our communities from gun violence and prevent dangerous people from getting guns.”

Federal law bars people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms. In addition to the federal law, nearly every state in the country has enacted a law limiting access to firearms for those subject to domestic violence restraining orders. The coalition argues that the appeals court ruling puts at risk domestic violence victims who may be harmed or killed by their abusers, and hampers both the federal government and states in their efforts to protect their residents’ safety.

The attorneys general argue that statutes of this sort are both constitutional and lifesaving. Studies have shown that such measures reduce homicides of both intimate partners and law enforcement officers. An abuser is five times more likely to murder his or her intimate partner if a firearm is in the home. In the United States, 80 percent of these homicide victims are women, and pregnant women and women of color are disproportionately the targets of intimate partner violence.

Joining Attorney General James in filing today’s amicus brief are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia.

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