The Amicus Brief Calls on SCOTUS to Set a Clear Standard for Congress to Pass Commonsense Gun Violence Prevention Laws
WOODBRIDGE, Va. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — a Member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force — joined an amicus brief repudiating the Fifth Circuit’s decision in United States v. Rahimi.
The defendant in Rahimi was suspected of five shootings in Texas. Police searched his home and found multiple firearms — though he was under a domestic violence restraining order, which prohibited him from owning a firearm under federal law. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately ruled that the federal law prohibiting individuals under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms is unconstitutional due to the new “history and tradition” legal test under Bruen.
The Spanberger-supported amicus brief calls on the Supreme Court of the United States to set a clear standard that allows for Congress to pass commonsense gun violence prevention laws to keep the American people safe. The brief also stresses the importance of making sure that both state and federal legislatures can maintain the flexibility they need to address public safety threats, as permissible under the Second Amendment.
“If the decision in Rahimi is upheld, we risk creating dangerous situations in which abusers can pose a greater threat to their victims, their families, and law enforcement. As a former CIA case officer and federal law enforcement officer, I understand the risks to public safety that would be presented by opening these floodgates,” said Spanberger. “Victims of domestic violence — including children — need protection, not more threats. SCOTUS should make clear that individuals under domestic violence restraining orders pose a risk to our communities — and Congress should continue to support new measures that strengthen mental health services, law enforcement training, and crisis response.”
The amicus brief is led by U.S. Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA-04) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
The amicus brief and the full list of signatories can be found here.
Since arriving in Congress, Spanberger has been a consistent voice for commonsense gun violence prevention legislation that can protect the lives of Virginia families, communities, and law enforcement officers. Both in 2019 and 2021, she voted to pass bipartisan gun safety legislation that would close existing federal background check loopholes and make sure individuals already prohibited from gun possession under federal law are unable to purchase firearms.
Earlier this year, Spanberger helped lead an effort to force a vote on three measures — the Assault Weapons Ban, Bipartisan Background Checks Act, and Enhanced Background Checks Act — that would save lives in Virginia and across the country.
And in June 2022, Spanberger voted to pass — and the President signed into law — the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Specifically, this bipartisan agreement:
- Requires an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement,
- Clarifies the definition of a “federally licensed firearms dealer” (FFL) and cracks down on dealers who illegally evade licensing requirements,
- Incentivizes states to adopt “red flag laws” to keep guns out of the hands of individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others, consistent with state and federal due process and constitutional protections,
- Protects victims of domestic violence by making sure that domestic violence abusers and individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders are included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System,
- Increases penalties for “straw purchasing” and gun trafficking,
- Invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs and school based mental health services,
- Makes major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs and other support services available in the community, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery, and
- Invests in programs to help institute safety measures in and around schools, support school violence prevention efforts, and provide training to school personnel and students.
The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force was established in Congress after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.