One week after angering gun control advocates by overturning a ban on bump stocks, the Supreme Court on Friday gave those same Americans cause for celebration by upholding a gun law aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence.

In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court said it does not violate the Second Amendment to prohibit individuals who are thought to be a threat to an intimate partner or their children from possessing a firearm.

“An individual found by a court to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another may be temporarily disarmed consistent with the Second Amendment,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the lone dissent. He argued that Friday’s ruling contradicts the approach to Second Amendment cases that the court laid out just two years ago.

“This court’s directive was clear: A firearm regulation that falls within the Second Amendment’s plain text is unconstitutional unless it is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Not a single historical regulation justifies the statute at issue,” he said.

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What the Supreme Court has said about the Second Amendment

Thomas was referencing a case called New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, which clarified how judges should approach Second Amendment litigation.

The 6-3 majority said in Bruen that new gun restrictions only satisfy the Second Amendment when they’re analogous to “this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

The June 2022 ruling was widely understood to complicate efforts to restrict gun ownership. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited it when ruling in favor of the man at the center of this term’s case, Zackey Rahimi, who had challenged a law preventing people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from owning guns, as the Deseret News previously reported.

The Biden administration appealed that 5th Circuit ruling to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case and clarify how to apply the Bruen decision.

During oral arguments in November, most justices appeared to believe that the gun law regarding domestic violence restraining orders fit within a legal tradition of keeping weapons away from dangerous people, and Friday’s ruling confirms that observation.

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“Since the founding, our Nation’s firearm laws have included provisions preventing individuals who threaten physical harm to others from misusing firearms,” the majority opinion said.

Rahimi ruling

Writing for the majority, Roberts acknowledged that the court’s past rulings on the Second Amendment have caused some confusion.

Across the country, some judges have been acting as if a new gun restriction must be identical to an old one to remain in place, he noted. What actually matters is that newer gun laws respect and uphold established principles.

“As we explained in Bruen, the appropriate analysis involves considering whether the challenged regulation is consistent with the principles that underpin our regulatory tradition,” Roberts wrote.

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