Press Release

Gabrielle Giffords Praises House Majority for Passing Violence Against Women Act with New Measures to Make it Harder for Domestic Abusers to Obtain Firearms 

April 4, 2019 — Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, founder of the gun safety organization Giffords, praised the House of Representatives for reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with new provisions to close the boyfriend and stalker loopholes that have allowed abusers to obtain firearms. After House Democrats added these measures, the National Rifle Association came out in opposition to VAWA but was unsuccessful in stopping its approval. Now that the legislation has been passed by the House, Giffords calls on the Senate to take up the bill.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:

“As a nation, we must do everything in our power to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous domestic abusers and convicted stalkers. For the millions of women and families affected by domestic violence, abusers with guns pose a terrifying threat that far too often ends in tragedy. In fact, the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will die. The new majority in Congress understands this horrifying reality needs to change and is once again leading with action. Today’s victory in the House is a significant step towards protecting women and their families and saving lives from gun violence. The responsibility to take the next step now shifts to the Senate. Every 16 hours, a woman in America is shot to death by an intimate partner. When lives are at stake, there is no time to waste.”

Related Resources

Giffords Law Center Factsheet: Guns and Domestic Violence

Giffords Factsheet: Gun Provisions in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019

About the New Gun Violence Prevention Measures in VAWA

The VAWA reauthorization would make two commonsense changes to federal law to prohibit perpetrators of dating violence and those convicted of misdemeanor stalking from legally accessing guns. The legislation would:

  • Close the Loophole That Lets Perpetrators of Dating Violence Access Guns: Current federal law prohibits individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses from accessing firearms (including individuals who are a current or former spouse, parent, parent of a child in common, current or former cohabitant, or a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim). However, current federal law does not prohibit perpetrators who abused current or former dating partners from having firearms. With more than half of all intimate partner homicides committed by dating partners, this gap leaves a significant number of abusers free to access firearms.
  • Close the Loophole That Lets Some Convicted Stalkers Access Guns: Under current federal law, individuals convicted of felony stalking offenses are prohibited from accessing guns, but individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses are not prohibited. With many first-time felons pleading down to misdemeanor charges, and with many stalkers going on to commit further violence, this legislation closes this gap in federal law so that all individuals convicted of stalking offenses are prohibited from accessing firearms.