Supreme Court to decide if domestic abusers can own guns

June 20, 2024
Concept illustration of a handgun superimposed over the Supreme Court. Image credit: Nicole Smith, made with Midjourney


April Zeoli
April Zeoli

The University of Michigan’s April Zeoli, one of the nation’s leading researchers on firearms and domestic violence, can discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s impending decision on United States v. Rahimi, a ruling that will either nullify or preserve laws that allow courts to grant restraining orders that prevent domestic abusers from possessing a firearm.

Zeoli is director of the policy core at U-M’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and an associate professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health.

The Supreme Court decision will overturn or uphold a U.S. circuit court ruling that sided with Zackey Rahimi, a Texas resident who claims a federal law temporarily prohibiting him from having a gun while under a domestic violence restraining order violated his Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Rahimi’s right to have a firearm was suspended after he assaulted his then-girlfriend and mother of his child in 2020, and shot at a witness who tried to intervene in the assault. He was later charged with violating the order when police found him in illegal possession of guns while investigating a string of shootings over two months, shootings police say Rahimi committed. He is jailed in Texas.

“The research suggests that laws imposing firearm restrictions on people under domestic violence restraining orders are associated with a reduction in intimate partner homicide. A ruling that these laws are unconstitutional would allow domestic abusers to keep their firearms and buy more, if they want, and put more lives at risk,” said Zeoli, whose research revolves around policy interventions to prevent firearms deaths by intimate partners, as well as red flag laws and other firearms safety interventions to prevent firearm injuries, homicides and suicides.

“Research also suggests that when an intimate partner homicide involves a gun, the risk of additional victims, such as children, being killed increases. Indeed, the majority of mass shootings involve the killing of intimate partners and family members. There is a link between mass shootings and perpetrators of intimate partner violence with firearms,” Zeoli said. “My fear is any continued danger to survivors and their families, and my focus is evidence-based research, policies and laws, such as restraining orders, to protect potential victims.”

MEDIA: To contact Zeoli, email Kim Shine of Michigan News at [email protected].

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