Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Cory Wilson, in a written opinion, said federal law that prohibits domestic abusers under a protective order from possessing a gun was unconstitutional. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 3 (UPI) -- A Texas court has ruled that a federal law that bans people with restraining orders due to domestic violence from owning firearms violates the Second Amendment.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday threw out the Justice Department's bid to uphold the conviction of Zackey Rahimi, a Texas man who was convicted of possessing guns while under a restraining order for assaulting a former girlfriend.
The court ruled that the law failed the so-called Bruen test, which emerged from the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. vs. Bruen decision in the Supreme Court in June which struck down the state's concealed-carry law, ruling that gun control laws must have a precedent in the gun laws in force when the Constitution was drawn up.
"Through that lens, we conclude that [the law's] ban on possession of firearms is an 'outlier' that our ancestors would never have accepted," Judge Cory Wilson wrote in Thursday's opinion.
The Supreme Court's expansion of Second Amendment rights triggered a series of legal challenges to laws restricting the use and ownership of guns.
''The purpose of these 'dangerousness' laws was the preservation of political and social order, not the protection of an identified person from the specific threat posed by another," Wilson wrote.
He added that "laws disarming 'dangerous' classes of people are not 'relevantly similar' to [the statute] such that they can serve as historical analogues.
The Justice Department said it would appeal the ruling, noting that federal law currently prohibits domestic abusers who are charged with a felony, or misdemeanor or are under a protective order from possessing a gun.
"Nearly 30 years ago, Congress determined that a person who is subject to a court order that restrains him or her from threatening an intimate partner or child cannot lawfully possess a firearm,'' Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
''Whether analyzed through the lens of Supreme Court precedent, or of the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment, that statute is constitutional. Accordingly, the Department will seek further review of the Fifth Circuit's contrary decision."
The 5th circuit upheld the same law just two weeks before the Supreme Court's ruling on June 23.
The ruling sparked strong reactions from gun control advocates.
''Families are too often murdered because abusive men have easy access to guns. The Bruen decision put us on a dangerous path & women are paying the price. SCOTUS must fix it," Giffords, a lobbying, legal, political action group that works to reduce gun violence, tweeted.
This latest decision follows a November ruling by U.S. District Judge David Counts, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, that also found banning those under a protective order from possessing a gun infringes on their Second Amendment rights.
The case involved Litsson Antonio Perez-Gallan, who was stopped at a border checkpoint in Presidio while carrying a firearm. Law enforcement found Perez-Gallan had a restraining order issued against him, which under federal law prohibits the possession of a firearm.
Counts ruled that the federal government's disarming of Perez-Gallan did not sufficiently consider the historical context of domestic abuse law when revoking his Second Amendment rights.
In September, the same judge ruled that it's unconstitutional to disarm somebody who has been indicted but has yet to be convicted.
He said he found no such history for limiting access to guns for those charged but not convicted of felony crimes, though he acknowledged his search was "not exhaustive."