Zachary H v. Teri A.

February 15, 2024

The trial court granted a DVRO protecting a son from his mother's abuse. The mother appealed claiming Family Code section 6389, which prohibits a restrained party from possessing firearms, violated the Second Amendment because of the recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion, N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen (2022) 142 S.Ct. 2111 (Bruen). In Bruen, the Court held New York’s public-carry gun licensing scheme violated the Second Amendment because “it prevent[ed] law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.”  The Zachary H. court held Family Code section 6389 does not violate a restrained party's Second Amendment right to possess firearms for self-protection. Bruen only extends to “law-abiding citizens,” which does not include “individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders,” like the mother in this case.

Nor does section 6389 violate the equal protection clause by allowing law enforcement officers to use a firearm while on duty. These two groups of individuals are not similarly situated for the purposes of the firearm prohibition: one group is a “narrow class of individuals[] for whom firearms are a necessary part of their employment,” and the other group comprises individuals who “generally desire a firearm to protect themselves.” Moreover, treating law enforcement differently than others is rationally related to the legitimate public purpose of reducing domestic violence "by prohibiting those who have committed acts of domestic violence from having ready access to a firearm.” The “especially narrow” exception balances the government’s interest with the economic interests of a restrained party to continue being employed.

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