Gun rights supporters are cheering after judges last week struck down two federal bans on gun ownership in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that said such measures must be consistent with the laws that existed when the U.S. was founded.
In Texas, a federal appeals court struck down a measure banning the possession of a firearm by anyone under a court order for domestic violence, such as stalking, harassing or threatening an intimate partner.
In Oklahoma, a federal judge tossed out an indictment against a man charged with violating a ban on the possession of a firearm by anyone who unlawfully uses or is addicted to a controlled substance.
“Watching these cases and watching these judges strike down these unconstitutional categories is a great thing for America,” said Aidan Johnston, federal affairs director of Gun Owners of America. “There have been a number of prohibited person categories that Gun Owners of America does not support for far too long, and we are happy to see these things get struck down.”
In its ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, the Supreme Court said the government must show that a gun control measure is consistent with America’s founding — or similar laws at the time — to meet Second Amendment guarantees. The justices wiped away New York’s law and measures in five other states that placed conditions on concealed weapons permits.
Justice Clarence Thomas’ majority opinion served as a legal lecture, directing judges to start taking the high court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence seriously. He said courts must determine whether a firearm restriction would have seemed reasonable to the founders who crafted and ratified the Second Amendment. If not, the law must give way to the Constitution.
The ruling sent shockwaves through court systems and gave gun rights activists new ways to attack state and federal measures restricting the use of firearms.
Gun control advocates see the recent rulings as evidence of confusion over the high court’s decision in Bruen. They say lower-court judges are interpreting the ruling differently and are handing down conflicting judgments.
Shira Feldman, a litigation counsel at Brady: United Against Gun Violence, said the Supreme Court will have to step in eventually to clarify its ruling.
“Bruen recognizes you can have modern and societal problems,” Ms. Feldman said. “A lot of courts are just failing to recognize or apply that nuanced approach.”
In the Oklahoma case, police found marijuana and a loaded revolver when they searched Jared Harrison’s car after he ran a red light. Mr. Harrison’s attorney argued that the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision protected his client’s Second Amendment right to own a gun for self-defense. U.S. District Judge Patrick Wyrick, a Trump appointee, agreed and vacated the indictment.
One day earlier, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a federal law that banned anyone subject to a domestic violence restraining order from possessing a firearm.
The case was brought by Zackey Rahimi, who was subject to a domestic violence court order after he was accused of assaulting his girlfriend. He was suspected of being involved in a number of shootings in December 2020 and January 2021 in Arlington, Texas.
A federal indictment was issued against him for violating a gun ownership ban on domestic abuse suspects.
The three-judge panel held that although the federal law may be a “laudable policy goal,” no similar laws existed at the time of the nation’s founding.
“Historical support for the exclusion of domestic violence offenders from Second Amendment protection appears rather thin,” said one footnote in the panel’s opinion.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment about whether it will appeal either ruling.
Mr. Johnston of Gun Owners of America said those suspected of misdemeanor domestic violence and those using marijuana, which most states have decriminalized, don’t deserve to lose their Second Amendment rights.
“If someone is too dangerous to own a gun, then they shouldn’t be allowed to roam society freely, and additional gun control laws certainly won’t stop them,” he said. “If society deems someone a danger to the public, they should compile the evidence necessary to prosecute them for a felony and lock them up until they no longer pose a threat. Otherwise, these prohibited persons categories are nothing more than [the] government chipping away at citizens’ rights.”
• Alex Swoyer can be reached at email@example.com.
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