The Supreme Court upheld the federal law banning gun ownership by those under domestic violence restraining orders on Friday morning.

In its U.S. v. Rahimi ruling, the court rejected Zackey Rahimi’s claim that the statute that prohibits the possession of firearms by persons subject to domestic violence restraining orders violates the Second Amendment. The court issued an 8-1 ruling, with Justice Clarence Thomas as the only dissenting vote.

“Since the Founding, the Nation’s firearm laws have included regulations to stop individuals who threaten physical harm to others from misusing firearms,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “As applied to the facts here, Section 922(g)(8) fits within this tradition.”

In April 2021, Rahimi was indicted for possessing a gun while subject to a domestic violence protective order for alleged assault against his ex-girlfriend, which explicitly prohibited him from possessing firearms. Between December 2020 and January 2021, Rahimi was involved in a series of violent incidents in Arlington, Texas, including multiple shootings and a hit-and-run.

Police searched the defendant’s home and found a rifle and a pistol, leading to Rahimi’s indictment for violating federal law by possessing firearms while under a domestic violence restraining order to possess firearms. 

Rahimi challenged the law as a violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The court found Friday that Rahimi posed a “credible threat to the physical safety of others,” adding that the “government offers ample evidence that the Second Amendment permits such individuals to be disarmed.”

Courts routinely upheld the 30-year-old law Rahimi challenged as unconstitutional. But a 2022 Supreme Court case, New York Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, significantly changed the way courts evaluate Second Amendment cases.

Before the Bruen case, lower courts evaluated gun laws using historical research and looking at how well-tailored the laws were in achieving a valuable government interest, like public safety.

But in Bruen, the Supreme Court decided public safety can only be considered for gun violence if comparable historical laws did so as well. 

Unlike the regulation struck down in Bruen, the law at issue “does not broadly restrict arms use by the public generally,” Roberts wrote.

The Second Amendment is not limited to arms in existence at the Founding, Roberts wrote, but it “extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were
not [yet] in existence,” citing the decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.

“By that same logic, the Second Amendment permits more than just regulations identical to those existing in 1791,” the justice wrote.

In his dissent, Thomas wrote that the decision threatens Americans’ Second Amendment liberties.

He said the case does not concern the issue of whether someone like Rahimi can be disarmed, but if the government has the right to disarm any person only subject to a protective order, whether or not that person has been convicted of a crime.

“The Framers and ratifying public understood ‘that the right to keep and bear arms was essential to the preservation of liberty,’” he wrote, citing McDonald v. City of Chicago. “Yet, in the interest of ensuring the Government can regulate one subset of society, today’s decision puts at risk the Second Amendment rights of many more.”

This is the Supreme Court’s second gun-related case this term. Last week, the court decided the federal government cannot use a decades-old ban on machine guns to ban so-called bump stocks.