Government Concessions in the Rahimi Oral Argument

In oral argument in U.S. v. Rahimi, the government conceded the difference between felonies and misdemeanors. Justices discussed non-violent felons who are not dangerous and whether administrative officials can deny the right to bear arms. The case involves a challenge to a federal gun ban on those under a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO). The government relied on laws punishing affrays and required sureties to keep the peace. The government also argued that disarming those not “law-abiding” and “responsible” is necessary. They clarified that “law-abiding” means those convicted of serious offenses with “felony-level punishment” and “not responsible” means those posing a danger. Various as-applied challenges were raised. The court also explored the distinction between facing a federal prosecution and as-applied challenges, and questioned whether a state DVRO law not requiring a finding of dangerousness could be a valid defense. The issue of lack of historical analogues for banning firearms in the home based on “dangerousness” was also discussed, as well as the implications of stringent legislation passed in some states following NY State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen. A distinction was noted between being convicted of a crime and issuance of a protective order in civil courts making determinations.