Duke Law Podcast | Preview: Supreme Court to hear major Second Amendment case
The Center for Firearms Law provides an insightful look into U.S. v. Rahimi leading up to the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on November 7th.
In this episode of the Duke Law Podcast, Andrew Willinger, executive director of the Duke Center for Firearms Law, discusses United States v. Rahimi – the first major Second Amendment case to be heard by the Court since its landmark ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen last summer – leading up to the Supreme Court hearing oral argument on November 7.
The Rahimi case has garnered national attention from gun rights advocates and Second Amendment scholars, as well as the general public, as it could potentially be the Court’s first opportunity to clarify certain aspects of its Bruen test that have since divided lower-court judges. The Court’s decision in Rahimi may indicate how broad of an impact Bruen will have in the years to come.
Sydney Colopy ‘25 (Guest host)
Research Assistant, Duke Center for Firearms Law
On the significance of the Supreme Court hearing U.S. v Rahimi:
Willinger - “This is the first chance that the Supreme Court is going to have to clarify this new history-focused test that it set forth in a case last year called Bruen. Bruen really changed the way that courts evaluate Second Amendment challenges. And so, in the year-plus since Bruen, we’ve seen a lot of confusion and division among lower courts, including on the very law that’s at issue in Rahimi, and the Supreme Court is now going to have a chance to step in and, potentially, clarify some aspects of the test.”
The law at issue:
Willinger - “The law that’s being challenged in this case and that was struck down by the [Fifth] Circuit Court is a portion of the federal criminal code. This is part of 18 u.s.c. 922(g). That section lists a number of status-based prohibitions on gun possession at the federal level. So, probably the one that people are most familiar with and, certainly, that prosecutor’s charge the most is the felon possession ban. That’s 922(g)(1). That says that if you’re a convicted felon, it’s a federal crime to possess a firearm for life. But this section of the criminal code contains other prohibited statuses, as well, and one of those is that if you are subject to certain types of domestic violence restraining orders that are issued by a state family court judge, you are not allowed to possess guns for the duration of that order and it’s a federal crime if you do so.”
On Rahimi’s primary argument:
Willinger - “Rahimi focuses on the scope of the statute. Rahimi says this is a very broad law. It bans possession in the home and public carry for the duration of the protective order. It includes severe penalties. I think up to 15 years in prison. And again, it’s triggered by a civil proceeding, rather than a criminal conviction. … The brief also argues that, on a historical analysis, Americans did consider domestic violence to be a societal concern early on – during the Founding Era and soon thereafter. But that they dealt with domestic violence in different ways. … One way they did not do that in Rahimi’s view is by disarming the offender.”