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.

The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban Survives Yet Another Attack

The Feminist Majority—the advocacy arm of the Feminist Majority Foundation, which publishes Ms.—together with the National Network to End Domestic Violence and its then director, Donna Edwards, played a pivotal role in passing the original Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban at the heart of the Rahimi case, often referred to as “the Lautenberg Amendment,” after its sponsor, the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), in 1996. After passage, feminists stood firmly against all attempts to gut the law, like the 1997 and 1999 attempts to exempt police officers and military service personnel from its coverage (which both failed). 

“The law prevented countless tragedies,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “It has saved the lives and harm of countless domestic violence survivors, most of whom are women.” Here’s to the feminist allies and advocates ensuring those days stay behind us.

In U.S. v. Rahimi, Domestic Violence Victims Live to Die Another Day

Friday morning, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that a law restricting firearms access for a narrow class of individuals subject to a specific kind of domestic violence restraining order does not violate the Second Amendment. The ruling is a “win” in much the same way the Court’s ruling in the mifepristone case FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine earlier this month is a win: The Court did the “bare minimum” necessary to cling to the last vestiges of its legitimacy.

The threat posed by violent abusers like Zackey Rahimi might be temporarily disarmed today, but the threat posed by the Supreme Court’s patriarchal agenda remains a loaded weapon.

The Twin Demons of Maternal Mortality and Femicide

Black women in the U.S. face a unique double-bind when it comes to maternal mortality and femicide.

Black maternal health isn’t just about perinatal care; it intersects with racial and reproductive justice, and it’s part of the nexus of gun violence and domestic violence. Focusing on this intersection should drive overwhelming support from both reproductive and racial justice communities working toward solutions. 

U.S. Gun Culture Is Killing Our Children—Including My Own

Six years ago, my beautiful boy was shot in the head at his best friend’s house. His friend’s father stored his three handguns and ammunition in a shoebox. We later learned that Ethan’s friend, who had just passed the NRA safety course and grew up with guns, had been regularly accessing and showing his teenage friends unsecured guns for over six months.

Ethan’s death was not an outlier. Over 4.6 million children in America live in a home with access to an unlocked or unsupervised firearm. And one in five children have handled guns in the home without their parent’s knowledge. As a result, eight children a day are killed or injured by unintentional shootings—a type of “family fire,” or a tragedy resulting from unsecured access to guns. Family fire killed Ethan, despite being entirely preventable. We can start to end this war by safely storing firearms and asking about unsecured guns in the home where our children go to play.

Murder-Suicides Are an Urgent Domestic Violence and Gun Control Issue

Theresa Cachuela, known as “Bunny Bontiti” to her more than 20,000 Instagram followers, was fatally shot on Dec. 22 in a murder-suicide committed by her husband, as her young daughter looked on, just days after a judge granted Cachuela a restraining order against him. Cachuela is one of hundreds of murder-suicide victims each year.

Highlighting the connection between guns and domestic violence is crucial, with the Supreme Court currently considering the case of United States v. Rahimi, a Second Amendment challenge to the government’s right to ban gun permits for those subject to domestic violence restraining orders.

The Constitution as a Homicide Pact

The facts of U.S. v. Rahimi reveal the gendered and destructive reality of gun use behind the illusion of abstract, idealized self-defense.

Every 14 hours in the U.S., a man uses a gun to kill his intimate partner. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable. But the Supreme Court’s conservative commitment to “life” is highly selective, to put it mildly, and tends to value women’s lives—including those of domestic violence victims—very little. We can expect the Court’s ruling to come down in June or July of 2024.

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?

Allowing Domestic Violence Perpetrators to Carry Guns Will Worsen the U.S. Maternal Health Crisis

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in United States v. Rahimi, a case in which the Court will decide whether the Second Amendment prevents the government from protecting survivors of domestic violence by temporarily disarming their abusers. Invalidating this law would exacerbate an already colossal maternal and reproductive health and rights crisis in the United States and have devastating consequences.

Violence against women is a pervasive problem globally, but in the U.S., the lethal combination of intimate partner violence against women and guns is staggering. The right to life and reproductive autonomy includes the right to live free from violence at the hands of intimate partners.