Appeals court: Law barring gun ownership in domestic violence restraining orders is unconstitutional

Ruling from 2022 renders law in violation of Second Amendment, court says.

Published: February 3, 2023 12:52pm

Updated: February 3, 2023 1:03pm

A U.S. appeals court this week ruled unconstitutional a law barring gun ownership for individuals with domestic violence restraining orders against them. 

The ruling, issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, holds that a Texas man's constitutional rights were violated when he was enjoined from possessing a gun due to a protective order against him by his ex-girlfriend. 

"The question presented in this case is not whether prohibiting the possession of firearms by someone subject to a domestic violence restraining order is a laudable policy goal," the court argued; rather the issue was whether such a rule "is constitutional under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution."

The court in its decision cited the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision NYSRPA v. Bruen, which ordered that U.S. lawmakers much demonstrate that any gun control law is "consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

The government "must affirmatively prove that its firearms regulation is part of the historical tradition that delimits the outer bounds of the right to keep and bear arms," the Supreme Court held in Bruen

This week's opinion was written by two court appointees of Donald Trump as well as one of Ronald Reagan. 

The federal government had argued in the Texas case that the domestic restraining order law was similar to earlier U.S. laws that stripped "dangerous" citizens of their gun rights, something the 5th Circuit disagreed with.

“The purpose of these ‘dangerousness’ laws was the preservation of political and social order, not the protection of an identified person from the specific threat posed by another,” the opinion read. “Therefore, laws disarming ‘dangerous’ classes of people are not ‘relevantly similar’” as demanded by Bruen standards.

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