Posted on Apr 21, 2023 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

HONOLULU, HI – Attorney General Anne Lopez today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an important case to preserve states’ authority to bar individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders from accessing guns, urging 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 federal statute on the ground that it violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion earlier this year that agreed with this theory.

Attorney General Lopez joined a coalition of 25 attorneys general asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, overrule the lower court, and restore the federal law.

“Laws that prevent abusers from accessing guns reduce intimate partner violence and save lives,” said Attorney General Lopez. “The Fifth Circuit’s decision in this case is an outrageous step backward. The decision misconstrues the law and endangers victims who are particularly vulnerable to gun violence, and it misapplies historical evidence from a time when the law did not even protect women as full and equal citizens.”

In addition to the federal law, nearly every state in the country has enacted a law limiting access to firearms for those subject to domestic violence restraining orders. Attorney General Lopez 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 of this sort are both constitutional and lifesaving. Studies have shown that such measures reduce homicides of both intimate partners and law enforcement officers. An abuser is five times more likely to murder an intimate partner if a firearm is in the home. In the United States, 80% of these homicide victims are women, and pregnant women and women of color are disproportionately the targets of intimate partner violence.

The brief is the most recent step in Attorney General Lopez’s work to address gun violence throughout Hawaiʻi and across the nation, including by defending Hawaiʻi laws banning assault pistols and large capacity magazines and working with the Legislature to enact common-sense gun laws.

Attorney General Lopez is joined on the brief by the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, 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.


A copy of the coalition’s brief is found here.


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Media Contact:

Dave Day

Special Assistant to the Attorney General

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