Thompson Blasts Fifth Circuit Ruling Allowing Domestic Abusers to Bypass Restraining Orders and Access Firearms

Press Release


St. Helena – Today, Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-04) issued the following statement criticizing the recent United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruling in United States v. Rahimi.

"I am deeply disappointed and concerned by the recent ruling from the Fifth Circuit which overturned well-established federal law and now allows individuals with restraining orders against them for domestic violence to access firearms. This decision undermines the critical protections for survivors of domestic violence and puts their lives at risk,” said Thompson. “It is well-established that access to firearms increases the risk of domestic violence turning deadly. Allowing those with restraining orders to access firearms is a direct threat to the safety and well-being of survivors and their families.

“This ruling is a step in the wrong direction, and I will work with my colleagues in the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force to fight against it. We must work to keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and others, especially those with a history of domestic violence.

“I hope that this ruling is appealed and reversed for the sake of domestic violence survivors across our country.”

The defendant in United States v. Rahimi was suspected of five shootings in Texas between 2020 and 2021. Police searched his home and found multiple firearms. He had a domestic violence restraining order which prevented him from owning a firearm under federal law.

The New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit agreed to rehear his case after the Bruen decision and applied the new “history and tradition” legal test. The court found that the federal statute was not sufficiently similar to any historical laws raised by the government. The prosecutor presented numerous laws that disarmed individuals dating from the colonial period. The court thought these laws were aimed at preserving political and social order, and not protecting an identified person from a specific threat posed by another. The court ruled that even if those colonial and early laws were similar to the federal statute, they were not enacted in the text of the Second Amendment.

The full ruling can be found here.