In Rahimi, SCOTUS Averted a Catastrophe. Now Let’s Protect People Facing Abuse.

The country breathed a collective sigh of relief last week when the U.S. Supreme Court averted catastrophe with its ruling in United States v. Rahimi. The decision allows the government to continue denying firearms to people who are the subjects of domestic violence protective orders. The carnage caused by an adverse ruling in Rahimi would have been tragic. 

But make no mistake: Last week’s victory was not a step forward. It only maintains the status quo, which is grim. Right now in the U.S., 70 women, on average, are shot and killed by a partner each month. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children and teens ages one through 19. Domestic violence-related homicides have increased, and one reason is that we have more guns than people.

The ruling was indeed a relief, but it will not stop gun violence from making domestic violence more deadly and causing harm in our homes, schools, streets and gathering places. We can and must do more.

SCOTUS Will Decide Whether to Give Domestic Violence Abusers Access to Guns

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to consider the case of United States v. Rahimi, where the justices could strike down a longstanding, life-saving federal law that prohibits people subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms.

Imagine living with a violent, controlling partner, not knowing what you might face each time you enter your home. Imagine trying to protect yourself and your child in that situation, hang onto your job, and figure out how to get help. Imagine you reach out to a domestic violence program or the police get involved, eventually get legal representation and take the difficult step of showing up for a court proceeding that results in a domestic violence protective order requiring your abuser to stay away. And then imagine that they can nonetheless walk into a gun shop and purchase a firearm. How safe would you and your child be?

The Violence Against Women Act Turns 29. There’s More Work to Do.

Twenty-nine years ago, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), finally putting the full force of our federal government into efforts to stop domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking to help survivors. VAWA was transformative. In the years after it was enacted, domestic violence against adult women in the United States declined by more than 60 percent.

The pandemic set us back, and there’s much more work to do. We will keep working to improve VAWA, and to support the Biden administration’s National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action, a truly groundbreaking whole-of-government approach to addressing and preventing violence of all kinds.