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Minnesota victims groups praise U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding law disarming domestic abusers

Minnesota victims group applauds U.S. Supreme Court federal gun law ruling
Minnesota victims group applauds U.S. Supreme Court federal gun law ruling 01:39

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The U.S. Supreme Court in a decision Friday upheld a federal law prohibiting people who are subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms, ruling the provision does not run afoul of the Second Amendment. 

In the 8 to 1 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court that  "since the founding, our Nation's firearm laws have included provisions preventing individuals who threaten physical harm to others from misusing firearms"

 "As applied to the facts of this case, [the law] fits comfortably within this tradition," he continued. 

Amirthini Keefe, executive director of the Domestic Abuse Project in Minneapolis, praised the decision as a victory for victims and their families. In domestic violence situations, she said a person's risk of death rises when they try to leave a relationship and increases five-fold when a gun is available. 

She noted that of the 39 people killed by their partners last year in the state, 23 died by gunshot—that's nearly 60% of the total number of victims, according to data she cited from Violence Free Minnesota.

"That's quite a high number. And higher than it's been in a very long time," Keefe told WCCO. "And so having these laws in place very much impacts the safety of families and of the community."

Roberts made clear that a person can be disarmed only when found by a court "to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another."

Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas in his sole dissent argued the court did not prove this statute is consistent with the Second Amendment and warned the decision could have broader implications.

"In the interest of ensuring the Government can regulate one subset of society, today's decision puts at risk the Second Amendment rights of many more," he wrote. 

The ruling reverses an U.S. Appeals Court ruling and comes two years after a landmark decision that struck down other gun restrictions in a New York case and expanded gun rights.

The decision published Friday is a ruling in the case of U.S. v. Rahimi, and it marked the first test of a new legal framework established by that 2022 ruling requiring the government to demonstrate that a law subject to a constitutional challenge fits in with the "nation's history and tradition of firearms regulation," according to CBS News.

The Battered Women's Justice Project based in St. Paul also applauded the ruling and vowed to double down on their efforts to protect victims.

"We are immensely relieved and encouraged by this decision," said the organization's CEO, Amy Sánchez, in a statement. "Protection orders are a vital tool in safeguarding survivors of domestic violence. Upholding the restriction on firearm access for abusers ensures that these protective measures remain effective and that survivors are not placed at greater risk."

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