AUSTIN, TX (TEXAS TRIBUNE) – A Texas federal judge said it was unconstitutional to disarm someone under a protective order, sparking a likely legal battle over who can own firearms – a move proponents say will have far-reaching implications for access to might have guns throughout the county.
US District Judge David Counts, appointed by former President Donald Trump, ruled last week that prohibiting those under a protective order from possessing a gun violates their Second Amendment rights.
Judges who deem people a danger to family members or intimate partners can take the extra step of issuing a protective order asking people to turn in the guns they already have. Federal law currently prohibits domestic abusers who are charged with a felony or misdemeanor or who are under a protective order from possessing a gun.
The ruling comes months after a landmark Second Amendment case by the US Supreme Court that legal experts say is only just beginning to be felt.
In June of this year, the Supreme Court’s ruling in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association vs. Bruen case, authored by Judge Clarence Thomas, overturned the state’s concealed carry statute and ruled that future courts should uphold gun restrictions only if if there’s a tradition of it in US history.
The case involves Litsson Antonio Perez-Gallan, who was stopped at a border checkpoint in Presidio while carrying a firearm. Law enforcement noted that a restraining order was issued against Perez-Gallan, in which case federal law prohibits possession of a firearm.
Grafen ruled that the federal government’s disarmament of Perez-Gallan did not adequately address the historical context of the Domestic Violence Act when he revoked his Second Amendment rights. In September, the same judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to disarm someone who had been charged but not yet convicted. He said he had found no such antecedents to restrict access to guns for those charged but not convicted of crimes, although he acknowledged his search was “not exhaustive”.
The Earls’ latest statement also pointed to the lack of historical records on the Domestic Violence Act, which restricts access to firearms.
Eric Ruben, an assistant professor of law at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, said the counts’ recent comments are a direct result of the Supreme Court’s June ruling.
“The court said that the way one must decide the constitutionality of modern gun laws … is not by looking at modern political considerations, but rather by looking at historical laws and trying to incorporate certain legal traditions from a very different time.” analogize and place,” said Ruben.
But the landscape surrounding domestic violence and firearms has changed dramatically since the late 17th century when the Second Amendment was ratified.
Not only have firearms become far more deadly than the muzzle-loaded weapons used during the period, but views on gender roles and domestic violence have also evolved significantly, Ruben said.
The statement does not stop the government from continuing to pursue cases in Texas or elsewhere, but Ruben expects the federal government to appeal the case. If the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sides with Counts, Ruben said relaxing gun restrictions would have far-reaching implications for access to guns in the region.
Efforts in Texas to expand protections for victims of domestic violence from gun violence have long encountered obstacles. A small number of communities across the state have established programs to turn over firearms to law enforcement from people under protective orders, but these resource-intensive programs depend on federal and state laws that prohibit those people from owning guns.
Nicole Golden, executive director of Texas Gun Sense, said it’s clear why the federal government is banning several groups from owning guns, but the court’s decision contradicts the gun violence crisis and its threats against victims of domestic violence.
According to federal data, a domestic violence victim’s risk of death is five times higher if the perpetrator has access to a firearm.
“It’s just dangerous to our public safety, to our wives, to our families, and to our police officers who are often at risk when they get into a situation of domestic violence,” Golden said.
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