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Gun Violence Prevention, Domestic Violence Groups File Amicus Brief to Overturn Rahimi Decision

Supreme Court is presented with opportunity to create post-Bruen framework

Washington, D.C., April 20, 2023 – Today, a coalition of gun violence prevention and domestic violence prevention groups filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) petition for certiorari in USA v. Rahimi.

The brief urges the Court to take up the case in order to overturn the Fifth Circuit’s dangerous and misguided decision. The groups signing onto the amicus brief are Brady, Battered Women’s Justice Project, DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, DV LEAP, a project of NVRDC, Everytown for Gun Safety, GIFFORDS Law Center, March for Our Lives, National Family Violence Law Center at GW Law, National Network to End Domestic Violence, The Safe Sisters Circle, and Texas Council on Family Violence.

Kris Brown, President of Brady, said:

"The Fifth Circuit's decision in Rahimi is egregiously wrong, and is mistaken under the Supreme Court's instructions in the Bruen case. We know that firearms are the most common weapons used in domestic violence homicides, with female intimate partners more likely to be murdered with a gun than by all other means combined.

"Prohibiting domestic violence abusers from accessing firearms is common-sense, life-saving, and constitutional, and Brady is proud to stand in solidarity with other gun violence prevention and domestic violence organizations in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case and correct the terribly misguided ruling by the court of appeals.”

The amicus brief can be found here.

Statements from additional groups are below:

Esther Sanchez-Gomez, Litigation Director, GIFFORDS Law Center:

“The Fifth Circuit’s decision in USA v. Rahimi was reckless and endangers many lives, especially those of women and children already suffering domestic violence. We know that firearms in the hands of individuals who have been deemed dangerous by a court leads to gun violence. It is common sense to keep guns out of such hands. We filed this amicus brief today to urge the Supreme Court to grant certiorari and clarify that those subject to domestic violence restraining orders can—consistent with the Constitution—be prevented from accessing firearms.”

Janet Carter, Senior Director of Issues and Appeals at Everytown Law:

“Access to a gun makes it five times more likely that a woman will die at the hands of their abuser. The Fifth Circuit panel’s decision was wrong and it will cost lives; the Supreme Court must reverse this extreme and dangerous ruling.”

Dawn Dalton, Executive Director, DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

“Firearms protections in cases of domestic violence save lives. Leaving guns in the hands of dangerous abusers threatens the lives of their families and the whole city. In Washington DC, with local ability stalled to define criminal law, we rely on Federal firearms laws even more to keep everyone safe from gun violence. We call on the Court to overturn the dangerous Rahimi decision to save lives.”

Makennan McBryde, Legal Associate, March For Our Lives:

“Fundamentally, the decision issued by the Fifth Circuit Court in USA v. Rahimi flies in the face of legal precedent and settled constitutional jurisprudence and, most importantly, puts people’s lives at risk. Young people are especially susceptible to becoming victims of domestic violence, both as partners and as children. These are the people who will suffer if the Fifth Circuit Court’s ruling stands, and it's these people who the Supreme Court must protect. March For Our Lives filed this brief with our partners to protect the women, children, families, and communities who deserve life and safety, and who were cast aside at the hands of the Fifth Circuit Court that issued this egregious ruling. We need to right this wrong.”

Melina Milazzo, Public Policy, Deputy Director, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV):

“Domestic violence and firearms are a lethal combination. Every day, an average of three women are killed by a current or former partner in America. And when a male abuser has access to a firearm, the risk he will shoot and kill a female partner increases by 1,000%. Leaving guns in the hands of dangerous abusers needlessly puts the lives and safety of survivors, their families, and communities in grave, often deadly, danger.”

Amy J. Sánchez, CEO, BWJP:

“Violence is violence, whether it is against an intimate partner or a stranger. The American legal system has a long history of disarming people who are a danger to their community. We strongly believe the Fifth Circuit’s decision in United States v. Rahimi was wrongly decided because federal provisions disarming dangerous domestic abusers subject to a protection order are proven lifesaving laws. Protection orders have long provided relief for those who escape intimate partner violence, particularly when firearms are involved. Everyone is safer when abusers don’t have access to firearms.”

Alana C. Brown, Esq., Founder and Executive Director, The Safe Sisters Circle

“As an organization that specifically represents Black women survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, The Safe Sisters Circle is concerned with how Rahimi’s decision will affect Black survivors, who will be even more vulnerable to gun violence, should the fire-arm protections be removed from domestic violence civil cases. Black women have higher rates of intimate partner violence and general violence within their communities due to historical, cultural, and systematic factors. Further, due to the aforementioned systemic factors, the disproportionate prevalence of guns and gun-related crimes in Black communities make these provisions and protections important for Black survivors. While Rahimi will have a national effect, our work in Washington D.C. will be especially affected due to reliance on federal laws and regulations. We urge the Supreme Court to review and reverse this dangerous precedent.”

Sasha Drobnick, Director of Appellate Litigation, Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project of NVRDC:

“If allowed to stand, the 5th Circuit's decision in U.S. v. Rahimi, women, children, and men will die. They will die despite their legal right to, and legally recognized need for protection, from domestic abusers, because protection orders will no longer provide a critical remedy to keep them and others safe. This is not theoretical but a reality, born out by ample data on abusers' lethality when they have access to firearms. No reading of history can support failure to regulate individuals who pose the clear danger that abusers with guns represent.”

Gloria Aguilera Terry, CEO of Texas Council on Family Violence:

“On behalf of tens of thousands of domestic violence victims in the second most populous state in the U.S., the Texas Council on Family Violence joins with anti-violence advocates on this amicus brief to the Supreme Court to grant certiorari to clarify that individuals deemed dangerous by a court cannot legally possess firearms. Research is abundant and clear on this issue. In 2021 alone, 75% of all female domestic violence victims killed in Texas were killed by a firearm, and some by perpetrators who were respondents of protective or restraining orders. We urge the Supreme Court to clarify that Second Amendment rights can be upheld while our nation simultaneously continues to take steps to protect victims of violence at highest risk of homicide. With domestic violence firearm related homicides on the rise, we cannot afford the cost and heartbreak of additional loss of life that will result if we roll back or blur the validity of existing firearm laws.”

Joan Meier, Founding Director, National Family Violence Law Center at GW:

"Too often, not only women but children are murdered by known and adjudicated domestic abusers wielding firearms. The Framers did not believe in - or anticipate - allowing dangerous people with guns to slaughter their families and strangers in individual and mass killings. Given that the majority of perpetrators of mass shootings are domestic abusers, there can be no doubt that disarming domestic abusers protects not only their families but numerous unrelated strangers. For instance, the 'D.C. sniper' John Muhammed shot several total strangers in a ploy to cover up his intended shooting of his true target, his ex-wife."

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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