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Domestic violence advocates applaud Supreme Court decision

Domestic violence advocates around the country are applauding the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Rahimi to uphold the federal law prohibiting individuals subject to final domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms.

“I’m very encouraged that the Supreme Court has affirmed this commonsense legislation.  It stands to reason that persons who pose an ongoing and serious threat to others should not be armed, and that limits on gun possession such as these do not offend the 2nd Amendment.  We’ve been anticipating this decision for some time now, and I’m hopeful that this will open the door to some fruitful conversations in Jefferson City about similar state legislation to protect women and children facing domestic violence” said Tyler McClay, Chief Advocacy Officer of Catholic Charities of St. Louis (CCSTL).

Zackey Rahimi was subject to a protective order, restraining him from abusing his former partner, with whom he shares a child in common. While subject to this order, he went on a shooting spree, engaging in five separate incidents of gun violence. In addition to other charges, he was charged with violating the federal law prohibiting respondents to final domestic violence protective orders from having firearms if the protective order and the relationship between the parties meets certain criteria.

“For over 20 years I have been working with children in domestic violence situations, each year has brought a remarkable increase in gun related incidents with children involved. Overwhelming evidence shows that gun access/ownership by abusers significantly increases the risk of assaults, injuries, murder and unintentional deaths of the victims, many of whom are children. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said the court had no trouble coalescing around the idea that an individual who poses a threat can be denied access to weapons. The Supreme Court’s ruling is a strong first step toward providing protection and safety to victims where the abuser has been found to be a credible threat” shared Amy Diemer, Managing Attorney for St. Francis Community Services -Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry (CCSTL).

This 8-1 ruling reinforces critical, lifesaving protections for domestic violence survivors and helps to prevent a significant rise in fatalities. Orders of protection are an important tool in minimizing risk and restricting access to firearms helps ensure their effectiveness. Statistics demonstrate a link between firearm access and domestic violence fatalities. Research shows the presence of a gun where domestic violence is perpetrated increases the risk of homicide by five times.

However, our work is not complete. It is imperative that we fully close the boyfriend loophole, which currently allows dating partners subject to final protective orders to possess firearms. More than half of intimate partner homicides are committed by dating partners, and yet dating partners who are found by a court to pose a danger to their victims are still permitted under federal law to have guns unless they live(d) or have a child with the victim. 

Saint Martha’s serves women and children who are impacted by domestic violence by providing shelter and resources.
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