COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) is seeing increasing domestic violence numbers across Ohio, especially in Franklin County.
It’s a demand that is overwhelming resources at the ODVN and emphasizing the issue in the state. Now the United States Supreme Court is hearing a case that the ODVN said has the potential to make the problem worse in Ohio.
The court is hearing United States vs. Rahimi, which is about whether someone subject to a civil protective order should be allowed to own a gun.
Rahimi is saying the federal law barring anyone with these orders from owning a gun violates the Second Amendment. In Ohio, the ODVN is worried if Rahimi is successful then domestic violence victims will be at risk.
“We’re worried that this can be the forerunner for legal decisions that are made in Ohio in the future,” ODVN Policy Director Maria York said.
In 2022 members of the ODVN gave legal help to nearly 19,000 survivors across the state.
“We know that again, gun violence is very high domestic violence fatalities. This is a very lethal, when a gun is involved, the risk for potential homicide increases 1000%,” York said.
They’re worried if the Supreme Court overturns the federal law that bans anyone with a protective order from owning a gun that number will only go up.
“We have six cases just in our latest fatality report that have family annihilations. And it’s not a term that we use often but it’s when the perpetrator takes out their partner and their children and maybe a grandparent or somebody else that was living in the home,” York said.
Right now it’s not a permanent loss of rights in Ohio; the protective order could last five years and when it expires, the person would be able to get their gun back.
“It’s not a very, you know, permanent decision that’s being made,” York said.
Dan Kobil is a constitutional law professor at Capital University. He thinks most people think the court will rule against letting those subject to these protective orders have a gun.
This means it would keep a gun out of their hands, but Kobil says this won’t be anywhere near the end of the debate over who can own a gun as the court probably won’t come up with a test to when this applies.
“So perhaps something that says on these facts Rahimi is sufficiently dangerous that he can be denied a gun, but we’re not going to tell you down the road what this means. So the courts will continue, I think in all likelihood to struggle with the many challenges that they get from gun rights groups,” Kobil said. “I think most observers expect the court not to be very sweeping in its ruling.”
Eric Delbert owns L.E.P.D Firearms, Range and Training Facility.
“As much as we are big proponents of the Second Amendment, there is a time and place when the judges see fit that some individuals may not, you know, should not be in possession of a firearm,” Delbert said.
He said the background check people go through to buy a gun will bring up if there is a protective order against them.
“That is, in theory, supposed to be entered into the NICS database system, so at which time they go and try to purchase a firearm, it will hit up against that database, therefore preventing them and showing them a denial at that time,” Delbert said.
No matter what the courts decide this is not where the gun ownership conversation will end.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how it folds out, not only because of how it falls out with prohibition with protection orders, but there’s also been discussion on you know, felonies you know, should someone be banned from being able to have an owner possess a firearm for their entire life if they’ve been convicted of a felony?” Delbert said.
The ODVN said they are cautiously optimistic that the Supreme Court is understanding that domestic violence offenders are dangerous and will keep the law as is.
The Justices have until the spring to make a decision on the case.