Violent Domestic Abusers Now Have A License To Kill

Zackey Rahimi is a citizen of the United States. He was a resident of Arlington, Texas between February 2020 and January 2021. During that period, as documented in a February 2, 2023 Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, he was a dangerous, irresponsible criminal who terrorized his family and the community of Arlington. 

A state court in February 2021 issued a protection order against Rahimi after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. The state court judge ordered Rahimi not to harass, threaten or stalk either the girlfriend or her child. The judge explicitly informed Rahimi that he could not possess a firearm.

The judge’s non-possession of firearm order was consistent with the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8) which prohibits anyone subject to a “protection order” from possessing a firearm. 

Problem was, Rahimi had no respect either for the protection order or for the rule of law.

In January 2021, the Arlington Police determined that Rahimi between December 2020 and January 2021 terrorized both the general community and law enforcement of Arlington. 

The police linked him to the following five specific shooting incidents during that period. The Fifth Circuit spelled out those criminal offenses:

December 1, 2020: fired multiple shots into an individual’s residence after selling them drugs;
December 2, 2020: fired at a driver in a vehicle he had an accident before fleeing the scene;
December 2, 2020: returned to the scene of the accident in another vehicle and once again fired at the other driver’s car;
December 22, 2020: fired at a city constable’s car; and
January 7, 2021: fired multiple shots in the air after a friend’s credit card was rejected at a local fast food restaurant.

Arlington police executed a search warrant of Rahimi’s residence in the wake of these multiple shooting incidents wherein they found a rifle and a pistol.

A federal grand jury indicted him under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8). His attorney then filed a specific constitutional challenge to § 922(g)(8), arguing that the statute violated Rahimi’s Second Amendment right to own and possess firearms. 

A U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas denied motion after which Rahimi pled guilty to the federal charge. The guilty plea was conditional, allowing Rahimi to pursue his challenge to § 922(g)(8) before the Fifth Circuit.

Prior to his federal sentencing, a presentence investigation report was prepared and submitted to the district court. This “PSR” showed Rahimi had three state gun-related charges pending against him at that time—terroristic threat of a family/household member, discharging a firearm in certain municipalities, and family violence assault causing bodily injury.

In addition to these violent charges, Rahimi also had an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge pending in connection with an attack on another woman in November 2020 unrelated to the December 2019 assault on his girlfriend.

This extended violent criminal history notwithstanding, the Fifth Circuit with its February 2nd Rahimi v. United States decision declared the domestic violence provisions of § 922(g)(8) unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.

The appeals court cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 gun-rights decision in N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. Bruen which held that gun regulation that restricts, even hinders the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms must have a “historical tradition” in law and practice to be valid.

The domestic violence provisions failed to meet that historical tradition. 

Put another and more simple way, a married or common law spouse (usually of the male gender) has enjoyed a historical right to keep and bear the firearms he has used to terrorize (by threats) and assault (by shooting) their spouses throughout most of this nation’s history.

State authorities of course have always had legal jurisdiction to prosecute a spouse for any specific crime they committed against their spouse but neither the state nor federal government could seize and keep the very firearms used to commit those crimes until a formal conviction was obtained.

That was the tradition born out of the Founding of this Nation and given social acceptance through its inclusion in the Second Amendment in its Constitution—the right of white males to keep and bear the very firearms they used to punish their wives for displeasing them.

Finally in 1996, nearly two hundred years after the Constitution was ratified, Congress enacted the domestic violence provisions of § 922(g)(8) through an amendment of the Gun Control Act of 1968. The amendment had the explicit intent to protect victims of domestic violence, especially from the use of firearms.

Roughly 10 million Americans are victims of family and domestic health violence each year. Every month an average of 70 women are killed by an intimate partner—some of whom had protection orders against the murderous partner. 

Male partners, who view firearms as an offensive rather than defensive weapon, have historically used firearms as a coercive tool of control in an abusive family household. It was the threat of being killed by a firearm that made it part of “the family tradition” to remain silent about physical and sexual abuse in the household. It was hoped that § 922(g)(8) would change that tradition—and it probably did in many cases.

There is no question that being beyond seriously psychologically unhinged, Rahimi was a dangerous criminal who used firearms in all of his criminal activity. He is the very kind of person § 922(g)(8) was directed at—a legal protection for their abused intimate partner.

Thanks to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, that protection no longer exists in three Southern states—Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. The court did not belief the statute had a “historical tradition” sufficient to meet the constitutional deference paid to the Second Amendment by the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that his department will appeal the Rahimi decision to the Supreme Court. The three judge panel that handed down the Rahimi decision are Republican appointees, and there is no good reason to believe that the six Republican Supreme Court justices will reverse their fellow conservative judges.

More vulnerable, abused women will now be killed because of the Rahimi decision.

What kind of political ideology advocates the protection of “unborn life” while easily sacrificing born life?

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