“My soon to be [e]x husband threatened to shoot me and he verbally abuses everyday… . He also has anywhere from 50 to 60 guns in his room. I am afraid he will get drunk and shoot me.”
These are the words of Regina, a woman who shared her bitter truth and plea for help in an affidavit filed with a Tennessee court last year. Like more than 4.5 million other women across the country, she feared her ex-husband would act on the threats he made with his gun, and she was right — last month Regina was shot and killed, along with their daughter and another person, by her abusive ex-husband.
America’s gun violence crisis is inextricably linked with its violence against women crisis. Two-thirds of women killed by an intimate partner are killed with a gun, and an average of 70 women are fatally shot by their partners each month in America. Beyond the devastating effect on the victims who directly experience it, including children, intimate partner violence is often a precursor to violence outside the home. In 68% of mass shootings, the shooter killed a partner or family member or had a history of domestic violence.
Now a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court will determine whether more people will die at the hands of their abusers or if the nation’s highest court will put the safety of women and children above the agenda of gun extremists.
In February, a panel of three extremist judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit — two of them nominated by President Donald Trump — ruled in United States v. Rahimi that it is unconstitutional to prohibit people subject to a domestic violence restraining order from possessing a gun.
The case involves Zackey Rahimi, a poster child for why the federal law prohibiting firearm possession for people subject to a domestic violence restraining order should be left intact.
In late 2019 in Texas, Rahimi had an argument with his girlfriend that ended with him knocking her to the ground, dragging her to his car and shoving her inside. He then grabbed his gun and fired a shot.
Rahimi later threatened another woman with a gun and then participated in five shootings, including one in which he fired a gun into the air after his friend’s credit card was declined at a Whataburger.
It’s beyond clear that Rahimi and abusers like him should never have access to a gun, but because of the 5th Circuit’s decision, this basic and fundamental public safety law is now at risk ― and the lives of women and children across the country hang in the balance.
The Supreme Court will take up the Rahimi case this fall, with a decision slated for next June. If the Supreme Court upholds the 5th Circuit’s decision, it would allow abusers around the country to arm themselves, and women and children will die as a result.
This is not an abstract exercise. Data shows access to a gun makes it five times more likely that a woman will die at the hands of her abuser.
The question of whether or not domestic abusers have the right to possess guns should not be up for debate. The 5th Circuit’s decision is a full-out assault on women, and the Supreme Court must make it clear that our lives matter more than guns.
Tens of thousands of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers across the country, many of whom are gun violence survivors, are mobilizing to make sure that the Supreme Court knows lives are on the line this fall. We won’t stand idly by while the court contemplates whether the safety of women and children is more important than the gun lobby’s agenda.
In the streets, online and with our elected officials, we’ll be raising our voices so that every American knows what is at stake in the Rahimi case. Now is the time to put women and children’s lives over gun industry extremism. Now is the time to get off the sidelines and get loud.