NEW YORK – Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots arms Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, and its litigation arm Everytown Law, released the following statements in recognition of the one-year mark of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen struck down a core provision of New York’s concealed carry law that had been on the books for more than 100 years and changed the rules on how courts determine whether gun safety laws are constitutional. The one-year mark of the Bruen decision comes as we await word of yet another critical gun safety case before the Supreme Court: United States v. Rahimi.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court held one of its final conferences of the 2022-23 term, where it considered whether or not to grant certiorari in Rahimi. Rahimi centers on the long-standing federal law prohibiting individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms, which the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held unconstitutional this past February. If the Supreme Court fails to take up this case and ultimately reverse the Fifth Circuit’s decisions, domestic violence survivors in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi face the deadly reality that their abusers will be legally allowed to possess guns – making them five times more likely to die at the hands of their abusers. The Court is expected to issue its order list in the coming days, and all eyes are on the Court to hear Rahimi.
“The Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen was a giveaway to the gun lobby, emboldening gun rights extremists to take to the courts to relitigate even the most common sense gun safety laws,” said Nick Suplina, Senior Vice President for Law and Policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “In the year since the Bruen decision, the gun lobby has mounted challenges to hundreds of gun safety laws in pursuit of their ‘guns everywhere’ agenda – but we aren’t backing down, we’re fighting case by case to protect and build on our progress in the courts. Lives depend on it.”
“The legacy of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen is on full display with the Fifth Circuit’s extreme and deadly decision in United States v. Rahimi,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, Executive Director of Moms Demand Action. “Within a year of the Bruen decision, extremist judges have ruled that domestic abusers can be armed, despite the fact that access to a gun makes it five times more likely that a woman will die at the hands of her abuser. Bruen no doubt opened the door for the Rahimi decision, but the Supreme Court has the opportunity to close it – the Supreme Court must take up Rahimi and reverse this deadly decision.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen threw out the rule book for how courts determine the constitutionality of gun safety laws, forcing judges to look backwards hundreds of years in history to determine whether a public safety law is compatible with the Second Amendment,” said Eric Tirschwell, Executive Director of Everytown Law. “Over the past year, we’ve seen the chaos unleashed by the Bruen decision, leading courts across the country to issue contradictory decisions and opening the door for extreme judges to issue dangerous decisions. The Supreme Court has the opportunity to bring order to the courts by reversing the Fifth Circuit’s decision in Rahimi – and they must.”
Over the course of the last year, it’s become clear that the Court’s decision in Bruen has opened the door for chaos in the courts, welcoming judges to issue extreme decisions on gun safety. By changing the rules for how judges can evaluate gun safety laws, the Supreme Court threw out the existing Second Amendment test that had been used by judges for years.
Prior to Bruen, judges evaluated gun safety laws through two lenses: is the law effective at reducing gun violence and is the law consistent with constitutional text and grounded in historical tradition. However, in the year following Bruen, it’s clear that public safety has played a much more limited role as extremist judges have routinely struck down core laws by arguing that there aren’t sufficient gun regulations in U.S. history.
The Fifth Circuit’s decision in United States v. Rahimi is the most egregious example of Bruen’s impact on gun safety laws. Last February, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals cited the Bruen decision to side with Zackey Rahimi, a drug dealer in Texas with a history of armed and domestic violence, ruling that one of the United States’ most foundational gun safety laws – barring gun possession for someone with a domestic violence restraining order – is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.
The Supreme Court must now take up United States v. Rahimi and reverse the Fifth Circuit’s extreme decision – the safety of domestic violence survivors around the country hangs in the balance.
While the Bruen decision changed how judges can determine the constitutionality of gun safety laws, opening the door for extreme decisions like Rahimi, it didn’t close the door to gun safety. Over the past year, states across the country – from Illinois, to Washington, to Minnesota, to Maryland and more – have continued to pass common-sense gun safety laws and the courts have upheld gun safety laws as well, including:
- Prohibitions on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in Delaware, Washington D.C., Illinois, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington;
- Prohibitions on the purchase of firearms by those under the age of 21 in Florida; and
- Prohibitions on carrying firearms in Times Square and on the New York City subway.