Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an important case to preserve states’ authority to bar individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders from accessing guns.
A coalition of 25 attorneys general, co-led by Raoul and District of Columbia Attorney General Brian Schwalb, filed an amicus brief today in the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the court to review the case, United States v. Rahimi.
Federal law bars people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms. The defendant in Rahimi – who was under a domestic violence restraining order issued by a state court in Texas for assaulting and shooting at his girlfriend – challenged the statute on the ground that it violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued an opinion earlier this year agreeing. Raoul and the coalition are asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, overrule the lower court and restore the federal law.
“Guns are the leading cause of intimate partner homicides – more so than all other weapons combined,” Raoul said. “For 30 years, this federal law, which passed with bipartisan support, has prevented individuals who pose an imminent threat to their families from perpetrating gun violence. Policymakers have a vested interest in keeping guns out of the hands of those with a known history of violence. We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold this needed protection.”
In addition to the federal law, nearly every state in the country has enacted a law limiting access to firearms for those subject to domestic violence restraining orders. Raoul and the attorneys general argue that the appeals court ruling puts at risk domestic violence victims who may be harmed or killed by their abusers, and hamstrings both the federal government and states in their efforts to protect their residents’ safety.
The attorneys general argue that statutes of this sort are both constitutional and lifesaving. Studies have shown that such measures reduce homicides of both intimate partners and law enforcement officers. An abuser is five times more likely to murder his or her intimate partner if a firearm is in the home. In the United States, 80% of these homicide victims are women, and pregnant women and women of color are disproportionately the targets of intimate partner violence.
The brief is the most recent step in Attorney General Raoul’s work to address gun violence throughout Illinois and across the nation. The Attorney General’s office works with state law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to increase awareness of Illinois’ red flag law and to address gaps in Illinois’ firearms licensing system. The office also continues to prosecute individuals who lie on FOID card applications. Raoul has proposed the Firearms Industry Responsibility Act in Illinois to hold the industry accountable.
Nationally, Attorney General Raoul led coalitions of attorneys general in filing briefs supporting state laws in New Jersey and New York to hold the firearms industry accountable. Raoul has also led coalitions of attorneys general supporting bans on carrying firearms in sensitive areas such as in schools, on public transit and in places of worship. Attorney General Raoul has persistently advocated at the federal and state levels to strengthen regulation of 3D-printed guns and ghost guns. Illinois law now prohibits ghost guns, but the office continues to fight in federal court to help defend a recent rule closing the federal loophole. Additionally, Attorney General Raoul successfully filed and resolved a lawsuit to get the federal firearm license of an unscrupulous arms manufacturer revoked.
In addition to supporting law enforcement, the Attorney General’s office supports victims service providers around Illinois that offer trauma-informed services for crime victims and their families. Raoul’s Crime Victims Services Division administers a host of programs and services to assist survivors of violent crime. More information is available on the Attorney General’s website.
Raoul and Schwalb are joined in filing the brief by the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.