Attorney General Phil Weiser joins 24 attorneys general in urging SCOTUS to protect public safety and victims of domestic abuse
April 20, 2023 (DENVER) – Attorney General Phil Weiser today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to preserve states’ authority to bar individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders from accessing guns.
Weiser joined a coalition of 25 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief today, asking the court to review the case United States v. Rahimi.
Federal law bars people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms. The defendant in Rahimi – who was under a domestic violence restraining order issued by a state court in Texas for assaulting and shooting at his girlfriend – challenged the statute on the ground that it violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued an opinion that invalidated that statute. Weiser and the coalition are now asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, overrule the lower court, and make clear that the federal law is valid and should be enforced to protect victims.
“We in Colorado take protecting victims seriously and are committed to using all tools we can to do so,” Weiser said. “We know from our work leading the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board that most domestic violence-related murders involve firearms. Consequently, when it comes to protecting domestic violence victims from being harmed or killed by their abusers, it’s clear that gun safety protections make a difference and save lives. That’s what makes this ruling so dangerous and problematic.”
In addition to the federal law, nearly every state in the country, including Colorado, has enacted a law limiting access to firearms for those subject to domestic violence restraining orders. Weiser and the attorneys general argue that the appeals court ruling puts at risk domestic violence victims who may be harmed or killed by their abusers, and hamstrings both the federal government and states in their efforts to protect their residents’ safety.
The attorneys general argue that statutes limiting convicted domestic violence perpetrators access to firearms are both constitutional and lifesaving. Studies have shown that such measures reduce murders of both intimate partners and law enforcement officers. An abuser is five times more likely to murder their intimate partner if a firearm is in the home. In the United States, 80% of these murder victims are women, and pregnant women and women of color are disproportionately the targets of domestic violence.
Others joining in filing the brief include the attorneys general from Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.