BWJP Reacts to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s Disappointing Ruling Undermining Federal Firearms Prohibitions for Persons Who Have Committed Acts of Domestic Violence     

ST. PAUL, MN – A federal court has ruled disarming people who have domestic violence protection orders against them does not “fit within our Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” The court further wrote that the ban under 18 USC § 922(g)(8) is an “outlier that our ancestors would never have accepted.” This reckless interpretation of N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. Bruen, puts victims of domestic violence in grave and lethal danger.

In United States v. Rahimi, the defendant was subject to a civil protective order after being accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. The order restrained him from harassing, stalking, or threatening his ex-girlfriend and their child and also expressly prohibited him from possessing a firearm. After having the order issued, he was involved in five shootings in and around Arlington, Texas. On December 1, 2020, the defendant, after selling narcotics to an individual, fired multiple shots into that individual’s residence. The following day he was involved in a car accident where he shot at the other driver. On December 22, 2020, he shot at a constable’s vehicle. Finally, on January 7, 2021, he fired multiple shots in the air after his friend’s credit card was declined at a restaurant. A federal grand jury indicted him for possessing a firearm while under a domestic violence restraining order in violation of 18 U.S.C.§ 922(g)(8), and he pled guilty to that offense. The defendant appealed his conviction, and the appeals court issued the aforementioned ruling.

This court’s view of the acceptability of interpersonal and firearm violence, historically and in our current climate, is unacceptable and dangerous. BWJP’s National Center on Gun Violence in Relationships and BWJP’s National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit work hard to make sure attorneys, judges, advocates, and other systems professionals understand the importance of disarming those who have become prohibited from having firearms due to domestic violence.  

This case is a harrowing example that domestic violence is a strong indicator of community violence. If dangerous individuals are allowed to retain access to firearms in these cases, no one is safe. The aftershocks of the Bruen decision are currently being felt and have far-reaching effects on domestic violence victims, and on all our communities. We call on our courts across the country to recognize the importance of domestic violence-related firearm prohibitions designed to save lives. Survivors of domestic violence deserve better.

For media inquiries and requests please contact BWJP’s Communications Manager Victoria Taylor at [email protected].


About BWJP

BWJP is the National non-profit leader at the intersection of gender-based violence (GBV) and the law. BWJP is organized as a dynamic collection of national policy and practice centers which provide support, education, best practice, and innovation to advocates, systems professionals, community leaders, and policy experts. BWJP works with jurisdictions across the country to improve access to systems while paying attention to not causing further harm and injustice to historically marginalized communities. BWJP will continue this critical work to inform and keep survivors safe while supporting thriving families and communities. Find out more about BWJP at

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