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US Supreme Court upholds gun ban for domestic abusers

June 21, 2024

Gun control advocates called the ruling "a life-saving decision." The Biden administration has argued that the ban is needed to protect victims of domestic violence, who are often women.

The Supreme Court building
The Supreme Court justices voted 8-1 in favor of the banImage: Graeme Sloan/sipa USA/picture alliance

The US Supreme Court on Friday upheld a ban on people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns.

The justices ruled 8-1 in favor of a 1994 firearm ban for people who are subject to restraining orders to stay away from their partners.

"When a restraining order contains a finding that an individual poses a credible threat to the physical safety of an intimate partner, that individual may — consistent with the Second Amendment — be banned from possessing firearms while the order is in effect," conservative Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

The verdict overturns a previous ruling from a lower court that said the 1994 ban violated US citizens' Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms."

The Biden administration said the law was needed to protect society and specifically victims of domestic abuse, who are often women.

Gun control advocates welcome ruling

The gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety hailed the Supreme Court's ruling on Friday as "a life-saving decision."

"The fact that the court sided against gun rights extremists today is a huge win for gun safety and survivors all across the country, but we should not have been here in the first place," it said on social media.

However, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas dissented against the ruling.

"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," he said.

Supreme Court takes aim at gun control

The ruling comes after the Supreme Court loosened gun restrictions in recent years.

In 2022 the Supreme Court said it would only authorize "reasonable" exceptions to the Second Amendment. In a ruling penned by Thomas, the court said it would rely on precedents from America's "historical tradition of firearm regulation."

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on "bump stock" devices — attachments that enable semiautomatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns, and which have been used in recent mass shootings.

In both cases, the conservative majority supported the rulings 6-3.

zc/lo (AP, Reuters, AFP)