Discussion: Protecting victims of domestic abuse from gun violence

Gun violence is top of mind for many Americans, especially in light of recent shootings across the country, with cities seeing crime rates that are still above pre-pandemic levels. 

However, an issue that's often overlooked is gun violence in the home, as well as finding ways to protect survivors of domestic violence. 

Bronwyn Blake, chief legal officer with the Texas Advocacy Project, joins FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren to discuss this.

MIKE WARREN: You know, your group submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in US versus Romney, and the brief argued that a recent Fifth Circuit Court decision was based on outdated misconceptions about domestic violence, potentially putting victims of abuse at risk. Could you give us some background on this case as well as the important takeaways from your brief?

BRONWYN BLAKE: Absolutely. The underlying case here, a man named Zaki Rahim, he was accused of assaulting his girlfriend. She pursued a civil protective order against him in court. It was granted by a judge. And at that time he falls under a federal law saying that if you have a protective order against you, you cannot possess a firearm while the protective order is in place. Well, not only did he possess a firearm, but over the course of the next year, he was implicated in five separate shootings. So when he challenged the constitutionality of this federal law, the Fifth Circuit initially ruled against him, and then the Supreme Court came out with a landmark case, USC v Bruin. And after that, the Fifth Circuit came out with a new decision saying that this federal law was unconstitutional. And that's the case in front of the Supreme Court right now.

MIKE WARREN: You know, the brief examines changes in domestic violence cases over time. What are some developments the court should consider in its decision?

BRONWYN BLAKE: This is a great question. The court needs to consider that so much has changed in their landmark decision and Bruin. They said that if we want to determine if a law is constitutional, we need to go back to what was happening when our founding fathers created the Constitution. Well, back then, domestic violence may have still been a problem, but firearms were not. It was very unlikely for an abusive person to use a firearm against their partner. They were more likely to pick up an ax than a firearm, I hate to say. So the idea that the founding fathers could have considered what's happening in the world right now, it's just not realistic.

MIKE WARREN: What do you say to people concerned that these type of restrictions could infringe on Second Amendment protections as defined by the court, especially if they're applied too broadly?

BRONWYN BLAKE: Well, I definitely believe in the Constitution and the importance of the Second Amendment. But I think that the case right here was definitely a mistake. I think that the court's guidance in Bruin was misapplied and that when they look at what is going on with domestic violence and the danger of firearms in the hands of people who the court has found to be abusive in that narrow situation, I think that they will agree with us here.

MIKE WARREN: History has a lot to do with things. Okay, we're out of time for today. But Bronwyn Blake, chief legal officer, Texas Advocacy Project, thank you very much for joining us.