MW’s former partner had many guns (registered and not) hidden around their home, including an AK-47 and one outfitted with a silencer. He would “frequently” hold a gun to her head and threaten to kill her if she ever left. After pointing a gun at her in public, the police were called, and he told her that he would kill their son if she talked. “Over the years, the abuse became so bad that I did not want to live anymore. This is the only way I escaped. I realized nothing I did was going to save me. Either I was going to end my life or he was going to end it for me. He told me he would bury my body under one of his construction sites and that no one would find me,” she said.
MW’s harrowing story is one of dozens compiled by a coalition of nearly 60 domestic and intimate partner violence survivor advocacy organizations for an amicus brief filed Monday at the Supreme Court. The coalition is demanding the Supreme Court overturn a lower federal court’s ruling that will allow someone under a domestic violence protection order to own a gun.
The original case centers on Zackey Rahimi, an Arlington, Texas, area man who was accused of physically assaulting his girlfriend and another woman with a gun, so he was barred from possessing one. But police found a gun in violation of the protective order. He pled guilty to violating the order, but his legal team challenged this law. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with him back in February, and the Supreme Court will hear the case next term.
“Research has demonstrated time and again the deadly intersection of domestic violence and firearms,” Gloria Aguilera Terry, chief executive officer of the Texas Council on Family Violence, said in a statement. “Over the past 10 years, the number of women murdered by an intimate partner with a firearm in Texas has nearly doubled. We fear for the many survivors at a terrifyingly high risk of being killed by a violent abuser with a firearm.”
Despite the apparent credibility given to the argument that people accused of abuse should have a deadly weapon by this now-federal case, domestic and intimate partner violence is still very prevalent—and just as deadly. Everytown for Gun Safety’s report on intimate partner violence found every month an average of 57 women are shot and killed by their intimate partner. Nearly 1 million women alive when the report was published in 2019 were shot or shot at by those partners. Gun violence and domestic violence are tightly linked.
The facts of the Rahimi case aren’t even as deadly as other stories shared by advocates in its brief. AW has a temporary protection order against her abuser, but was a court date for any permanent order was still pending. Inside her home, AW’s abuser shot and killed her in front of her five young children.
These “experiences illustrate that nothing less is at stake than lives,” the brief reads. Looks like we’re awaiting another Supreme Court season in which women’s very lives will be on the line.