Solomon Center Kicks Off Term with Discussion on U.S. v. Rahimi

audience in room 127

The Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy started its fall events series with a Sept. 12 panel discussion titled “Gun Violence, Domestic Violence, and the Supreme Court: Twin Threats before the Court in United States v. Rahimi.”

Co-hosted with the Yale School of Public Health, the standing-room only event was moderated by Abbe R. Gluck ’00, Alfred M. Rankin Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School and Professor of Internal Medicine (General Medicine) at Yale School of Medicine. The panel featured Dr. Megan L. Ranney, the new Dean of Yale School of Public Health and C.-E. A. Winslow Professor of Public Health (Health Policy) and Professor of Emergency Medicine at Yale School of Medicine; Jesenia Pizarro, Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Professor in the Office of Gender-Based Violence at Arizona State University; Eric Tirschwell, Executive Director and Chief Litigation Counsel at Everytown Law; and Michael R. Ulrich, Assistant Professor of Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights at Boston University’s Schools of Public Health and Law.

Tirschwell initiated the discussion by presenting a summary of the case, U.S. vs. Rahimi, which focused on intimate partner violence and its alarming escalation towards homicide. The case originally aimed to prohibit firearm possession among spouses under domestic violence restraining orders. However, the Fifth Circuit’s decision to declare this law unconstitutional raised concerns among panelists and advocates working to combat gun violence.

Throughout the discussion, panelists emphasized and explored the impact of Rahimi on issues related to public health and safety. For example, Dean Ranney highlighted the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach to gun violence prevention that involves data analysis, risk evaluation, intervention development, and the scaling up of effective programs. She spoke about the disturbing prevalence of homicides within marginalized communities, particularly affecting women and young men of color, leading to cascading consequences such as PTSD, anxiety, and altered behavior. Ranney also reflected on a less-explored aspect of maternal mortality rates, which is the importance of addressing the risk pregnant women face due to domestic violence. To address this issue, one suggested approach is empowering women to lead safe lives, as many are reluctant to leave abusive relationships due to fears of retaliation.

Pizarro added a criminal justice perspective to the conversation, emphasizing that the justice system primarily seeks answers to why people commit homicides and the opportunities that enable these crimes. She stated that the goal should be to not only prevent crime but also to ensure equitable distribution of justice.

Ulrich discussed the limitations of Bruen’s historical analysis model and pointed out that, although firearms were not closely regulated during the Founding era, there are examples of Founding-era on individual freedoms analogous to modern firearm regulations.

In conclusion, the meeting delved into critical aspects of gun violence prevention, emphasizing the urgent need for comprehensive approaches that go beyond legal measures alone.