Supreme Court grapples with what constitutes ‘dangerousness’ in gun rights case

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The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of U.S. v. Rahimi on Tuesday morning, delving into the complex issue of what constitutes “dangerousness,” and how it pertains to Second Amendment protections.

The question before the Court revolves around whether a person subject to domestic-violence restraining orders should be barred from possessing firearms under federal law.

Throughout the arguments, the Justices showed interest in the history of domestic violence in the United States and the specific terms of the federal gun ban for those under restraining orders.

However, the discussion repeatedly circled back to the fundamental query of what specific conduct might cancel a person’s Second Amendment rights to possess firearms.

A majority of the Court appeared inclined to uphold the federal law in question. That could mean a reversal of a lower court ruling that found the law to be a violation of the Second Amendment, citing last year’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett was particularly interested in this concept of “dangerousness.” She pondered out loud, “Could I just say that it’s ‘dangerousness’? Let’s say that I agree with you that when you look back at surety laws and affray laws, etc., it shows that the legislature can make judgments to disarm people consistent with the Second Amendment based on dangerousness. Why can’t I just say that?”

Similar questions were posed by others on the bench, which could signal the court will sharpen up its earlier Bruen decision relating to a New York law that said people have to show “proper cause” for wanting a firearms license.

he question is now whether the government can disarm a citizen who is deemed dangerous, or if it could do so using other criteria it drums up in the future. The ramification for setting a “dangerousness” standard could have unintended consequences in the law, such as: Can non-violent felons own guns?

23 COMMENTS

    • Agreed. And there weren’t even laws against beating your kids or wife in the 18th century, so this case seems ripe for Justice Thomas to pen another majority opinion consistent with Bruen. It seems like it would be more efficient for SCOTUS to tell the public what prohibitions existed in that time and then legislators can make an informed decision on any proposed legislation.

  1. Are the domestic violence restraining orders based on criminal convictions or simply allegations?

    Many a divorce has allegations made that may or may not have ever occurred but come about as the party’s jockey for power relating to assets or child custody. The real dangerousness is unknown.

    Also some domestic violence is very serious. Other incidents are minor and one off events. Everyone, given the right environment, can be provoked to anger thru emotion or attack.

    I guess I’m saying each case is different. They are not all the same nor do they all indicate dangerousness. Some definitely do. Others do not. But since we’re revoking a constitutional right, specifically spelled out in the Bill of Rights, it’s important to use caution.

  2. They keep trying to take our rights but do nothing to decrease crime. Everybody better be diligent and aware of what government is trying to do to your rights. Get ready

    • Mark, By taking away our rights, do you mean the right for a woman and her family to plan their future? Or maybe taking away the right of a woman to NOT take a dead baby to term? Or maybe the right to peaceably assemble without guns prickling the gathering (thinking domestic terrorists like the Oof Keepers). Or do mean the complete elimination of my right to drive my car however the fuck I want to?

      And your answer is to get armed so that you can take the rights of citizens to be alive.

      Fortunately, you are fringe. But living a day normally is no match for your boner extension, your assault weapon. So once employed, you win.

    • You missed the point – this legislation IS designed to decrease crime while ensuring 2nd amendment rights. Here’s some data for you:
      1. Almost 1 in 5 (19%) DV incidents involve a weapon (most of the time it’s a gun).
      2. The presence of a gun in DV situations increases the chance of homicide by 500%
      3. 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female. The vast majority of these murder-suicides involve a gun.

      You may think dangerous people should have guns, but the majority of the Supreme Court (with a conservative majority) disagrees, as does most of America. They’re striving for a solution that narrowly defines “dangerous” (to prevent overzealous application), is temporary in nature, and provides some protection for those at risk.

      I own multiple guns. If I do something stupid like threaten my family or neighbor, temporarily removing my access to guns temporarily is a responsible way to keep them safe and encourage me to correct my behavior. If I stop being stupid, I get my guns back.

  3. Having grown up in Germany and Europe where firearms are tightly controlled, I can say that America has it all wrong when it comes to guns. There are far, far too many and gun control is way too loose. Just look at the gun death statistics in European countries and compare them to yours. It’s no wonder that Europeans hesitate to come to the US on holiday – they are afraid of getting caught up in a mass shooting, or accosted by someone carrying a concealed weapon.

      • Hans Litten can produce statistics to support his claim. You can only prove that you’re a little man with a big gun. But that’s something! Don’t let me keep your safety on.

    • I watched Hamas, those murdering islamist Irani puppets, attack a police station on 10/07. I watch video filmed from neighbor’s windows as people in the street, and buildings where shot. Yes the police stations neighbors had cameras but no guns. I wonder if they were armed would they have shot video, or bullets? What would the outcome have been then? What would the outcome have been in the Jewish ghettos of Europe had they been armed. The European vision of life and the American vision of liberty are two separate and distinct paths. America is not Europe. Thank God.

    • Tell that to the families of those massacred by Hamas or the millions rounded up and killed by the Nazis, Stalin and Mao. With the increasing weaponization of our elected government (IRS,DOJ) I think I’ll keep my guns.

  4. This is exactly the problem…a bunch of legal elites sitting around pondering a question that has NOTHING to do with our 2nd Amendment enshrined right to self defense. Our rights aren’t malleable dependent on a perceived threat to someone else’s rights. That other person has the natural right to arm him or herself to protect their life. Society has no right to disarm someone to protect someone else against a perceived threat. There’s a huge difference between those two actions. If our natural rights exist through the whims of government then we have no rights.

      • Wow, the ignorance of such a loaded question is profound, and profoundly depressing.

        Rights do not and CAN not come from government — the ONLY thing that comes from government is coercion. Rights inhere in us as intelligent beings, and/or are endowed to us by our creator.

        Government does not created rights, it only stifles them.

      • Wow, the ignorance of such a loaded question is profound, and profoundly depressing.

        Rights do not and CAN not come from government — the ONLY thing that comes from government is coercion. Rights inhere in us as intelligent beings, and/or are endowed to us by our creator.

        Government does not create rights, it only stifles them.

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