March 5, 2018 — Today Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a bill (HB 4145) to protect victims of domestic violence in the state by prohibiting abusers and stalkers from getting guns. The legislation would expand prohibitions on domestic abusers possessing firearms to include dating partners and stalkers. The bill was sponsored and championed by Governor Kate Brown during the 2018 Oregon legislative session.
“Today Oregon became a safer place to live,” said Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. “Guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix, something that Oregonians know all too well. I am grateful to the leadership of Governor Kate Brown, and her commitment to protect the women and families of domestic abuse. I also want to thank all of supporters and advocates of this bill, including Giffords coalition members, who have been fighting for years to close loopholes in Oregon’s gun laws. Oregon has made considerable progress in just a few years to address gun violence, and today is yet another example of this critical work.”
“Closing the ‘Intimate Partner Loophole’ is an important step to keep Oregonians safer from violence, and I couldn’t be more proud to sign HB 4145 into law,” Governor Kate Brown said. “Im hopeful that the tide is turning on our nation’s gun debate, and that we now have the chance to enact meaningful change. As we celebrate Oregon’s victory, we must keep looking ahead to the next step towards stopping senseless gun violence. We need national action and federal legislation.”
Background on Giffords Efforts to Strengthen Oregon Laws to Keep Guns out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers
Federal law prohibits abusers who have been convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors and abusers subject to certain domestic violence protective orders from purchasing or possessing guns. However, significant gaps in our laws exist. For example, the “boyfriend loophole” refers to the fact that dating partners do not qualify as domestic abusers with regards to federal firearm prohibitions unless the partners have cohabitated as spouses or have a child in common.
In 2015, Giffords and members of the Giffords Oregon Coalition, made up of gun owners, veterans, educators, law enforcement officials and community advocates, were instrumental in helping to pass critical legislation that closed a loophole in Oregon law that allowed domestic violence misdemeanants to legally possess firearms. Specifically, it now prohibits individuals convicted of qualifying misdemeanors from possessing firearms or ammunition if, at the time of the offense, the defendant was a family member of the victim.
But current law in Oregon doesn’t cover dating partners or stalkers when it comes to possessing firearms. A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania reviewed more than 31,000 Philadelphia police reports and found that “82.1 percent of intimate partner violence incidents included current or former dating partners….less than 15 percent involved current spouses, and just 3.5 percent involved ex-spouses.”
Background On The Nexus Of Domestic Violence, Dating Partner Abuse, Stalking And Access To Firearms
Women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries, and more than half of all murders of America’s women are committed with a gun. [National Domestic Violence Hotline]
Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm. [American Journal of Public Health]
Domestic violence assaults involving a gun are twelve times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force. [Saltzman, Jun. 1992]
In 2011, over half of women killed with guns were killed by their intimate partners or family members. [U.S. Department of Justice]
Sixty-six percent of female stalking victims were stalked by a current or former intimate partner. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, Jan. 2009]
One study of female murder victims in 10 cities found that 76 percent of women murdered and 85 percent who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder. [McFarlane, Nov. 1999]