Supreme Court Rules on Firearm Possession in Domestic Violence Cases: Implications for North Carolina Explained

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Supreme Court Decides on Firearm Possession in Domestic Violence Cases: What it Implies for North Carolina

In a notable decision by the United States Supreme Court, it was reaffirmed that individuals accused or convicted of domestic violence can be legally barred from owning firearms. This draws attention to the applicability and possible interpretation of this landmark ruling in the realm of North Carolina’s domestic violence regulation.

The Historic Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court verdict, pronounced on June 21, 2024, in the case of United States v. Rahimi, substantiates that firearms prohibition for those accused or convicted of domestic violence does not go against the Second Amendment. The judgment is significant for its potential to uphold laws aimed at protecting victims of abuse from gun-related violence. Had the court decided otherwise, North Carolina’s laws that require individuals with domestic violence protective orders to surrender their guns could have come under constitutional scrutiny. As the court validated the federal law concerning the same principle, North Carolina’s laws seem to sustain their constitutional validity, removing any legal grounds for local officials who claimed constitutional concerns when deciding against fully implementing such court orders of gun seizures.

Federal Laws and State Reception

Federal law orders that persons convicted in any court for a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” cannot possess or purchase firearms and ammunition. This principle also applies to those with certain domestic violence protective orders, denying them similar access. Several states have adapted laws mirroring these federal statutes and addressing loopholes to offer better protection to victims of domestic violence. While North Carolina does incorporate provisions of this nature, advocacy groups such as Giffords opine that the state’s efforts in this regard require further attention.

The Current State of Domestic Violence and Gun Laws in North Carolina

North Carolina law presents a process for firearms removal from persons with Domestic Violence Protective Orders (DVPOs) against them. However, gun ownership or purchasing is not illegal for perpetrators of domestic violence as per state law. Moreover, firearms cannot be promptly removed from a domestic violence situation by state and local police. Instead, a subsequent court order is necessary. This federal ruling leaves room for North Carolina and other states to bolster protection for those targeted by domestic violence by invoking stricter gun control measures against offenders.

The Case of United States v. Rahimi: A Second Amendment Examination

The case of United States v. Rahimi examines a federal law prohibiting anyone with a domestic violence protective order from possessing or purchasing firearms. Zackey Rahimi, the respondent, faced a federal conviction under this law on finding firearms in his possession amidst a restraining order. He argued that this was a violation of the Second Amendment, a claim initially agreed with by an appellate court, citing the landmark 2022 Bruen decision. However, the Supreme Court overruled this in June 2024, stating that the federal law in question preserves Constitutionality.

While the Rahimi case concerns the protective orders aspect, it is inferred that other provisions in the same law – like banning domestic violence misdemeanants from owning guns – would also resist a Second Amendment challenge.

Representatives Tackle Strengthening NC Domestic Violence Laws

Before the 2023 long session, the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission approved a legislative agenda listing several legislative goals. Among these is the institution of extreme risk protective orders. These work to temporarily disarm individuals posing significant risks of harm to themselves or others with firearms. Despite the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act allowing the utilization of federal grants for their implementation, the proposal has seen no action since its referral to the House Rules Committee in May 2021.

In a similar vein, Senator Jay Chaudhuri introduced a bill on April 30 to apply a ban to individuals convicted in a state court for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from owning or purchasing firearms. While there has been no action on the bill since its referral to the House Rules Committee on May 1, it is likely supporters will have to wait at least until the 2025 long session for its reconsideration.

Supreme Court Rules on Firearm Possession in Domestic Violence Cases: Implications for North Carolina Explained

Author: HERE Irmo

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