Whether Abusers Like Zackey Rahimi Should Be Able to Have Guns Should Have Never Reached the Supreme Court

While the Supreme Court did not take the gun lobby’s bait in U.S. v. Rahimi, it has already made this country a more dangerous place this term.

Grace Kapacs, 20, a survivor of domestic violence, at a rally in front of the Supreme Court to call on the justices to disarm domestic violence perpetrators, as oral arguments are heard in the case of United States v. Rahimi on Nov. 7, 2023. (Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

As the Supreme Court recently illustrated in vivid terms, and as millions of women in America well know, gun violence is directly connected to women’s health and freedom.  

For 30 years, federal law has disarmed domestic abusers who are subject to domestic violence protection orders. Last month, in United States v. Rahimi, the Supreme Court rejected the gun lobby’s effort to upend that status quo. But make no mistake: This Supreme Court, along with lower courts attempting to follow its flawed precedents, remains a grave threat to the health and safety of women and countless others. 

On average, 20 people are abused by an intimate partner every minute and the presence of a gun increases the risk of death by 400 percent. Additionally, the leading cause of death for pregnant and postpartum people in this country is homicide—the vast majority of which involve guns. At a moment where the health, safety and bodily autonomy of women and anyone who can get pregnant in our country are under constant attack, gun violence, domestic violence and reproductive freedom collide in a dangerous and urgent way.  

Whether abusive partners like Zackey Rahimi should be able to wield a firearm should have never reached the Supreme Court. Rahimi beat his girlfriend in a parking lot and shot at a second woman who witnessed this abuse, eventually resulting in a protective order being issued. Rahimi was also involved in five other shootings over the course of two months, including firing multiple rounds after a Whataburger restaurant declined a friend’s credit card. 

This horrific case underscores that gun violence is very much at the center of women’s lives. There should have been no debate about whether this individual should have a gun, nor whether the federal law in place to protect his girlfriend from violence is constitutional. The last person who should have a gun is a domestic abuser, someone who could turn any argument into a lethal situation. 

The threat posed by guns is particularly acute for women of color. More than 6,000 women are killed from gun violence each year; women of color make up more than 60 percent of gun homicides despite only comprising about 40 percent of the population. And the danger facing LGBTQ Americans, particularly trans women, continues to increase. 

While the Supreme Court did not take the gun lobby’s bait in Rahimi, it has already made this country a more dangerous place this term. Its recent decision to effectively allow machine guns on the streets is a grave threat to public health and safety. Bump stocks, which the Court just restored to American civilian life, can shoot between 400-800 rounds per minute, which is how the shooter in the 2017 Las Vegas massacre was able to kill 60 people and injure more than 400 in just 11 minutes. 

That decision, paired with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, will cost women their lives. In under two years, the Dobbs decision has led to women in states across the country literally being told to wait in hospital parking lots until they are on the verge of death.  

As the leaders of organizations dedicated to stopping gun violence and advancing gender justice, we are joined together against the erosion of laws designed to ensure basic freedoms. 

It’s time for Congress to step up and clarify the century-old ban on machine guns by banning bump stocks, and we need a Supreme Court that reflects the vast majority of Americans who support reproductive freedom. Enough is enough. 

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About and

Emma Brown is executive director of GIFFORDS, the national gun violence prevention organization founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.
Fatima Goss Graves is president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, president of the National Women’s Law Center Action Fund, and a co-founder of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.