For Zackey Rahimi, the solution for just about every problem in life seems to be to shoot a gun in its general direction. In December 2019, he fired a shot at a bystander who’d seen him shove his girlfriend in a parking lot, then threatened to shoot his girlfriend too if she told anyone about it. When an acquaintance posted something rude about him on social media, he fired an AR-15 into their house. When he got into a car accident, he shot at the other driver; when a truck flashed its lights at him on the highway, he followed the driver off the exit and, for some reason, shot at a different car that was behind the offending truck. After Rahimi’s friend’s credit card was declined at a Whataburger, Rahimi pulled out a gun and fired several shots into the air, a choice that I doubt made terrified employees any more inclined to fulfill his order.
None of this was in dispute on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over Rahimi’s bid to keep his beloved guns. But it was also not much of a topic of conversation, as Justice Clarence Thomas claimed there existed only a “very thin record” in the case. Despite the court’s inability (or unwillingness) to highlight the horrifying facts of his case, it does seem as if enough conservatives will join the court’s progressives to reject Rahimi’s plea.
If it weren’t clear already, Zackey Rahimi has not demonstrated an ability to safely possess firearms. In early 2020, a Texas state court entered a protective order that, among other things, ordered him to stay away from his ex-girlfriend and barred him from having guns. But after police investigating the subsequent shootings searched his room and found a pistol, a rifle, and ammunition for both, Rahimi was charged with violating a federal law that prohibits people subject to protective orders from possessing guns. In federal district court, Rahimi challenged the law as a violation of his Second Amendment rights, but the judge was unconvinced. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit—the country’s most conservative federal appeals court—affirmed in June 2022 the state’s right to take away Zackey Rahimi’s firearms.
A few weeks later, however, the Supreme Court blessed Rahimi with a chance to get his guns back. In an opinion penned by Thomas, the court held, in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, that restrictions on the right to bear arms are presumptively unconstitutional unless they are, in a judge’s learned opinion, consistent with the nation’s “historical tradition of firearm regulation.” The 5th Circuit withdrew its opinion in Rahimi’s case and issued another in which it changed its mind: Although the law embodies “salutary policy goals,” wrote Judge Cory T. Wilson, “our ancestors would never have accepted” it. Put differently, because the Framers did not disarm domestic abusers, who today shoot and kill an average of 70 women a month, modern lawmakers are powerless to do anything about it.
Read the rest at Slate.