Press Release

Giffords Criticizes Senator Joni Ernst for Introducing Violence Against Women Act Without Provisions to Stop Domestic Abusers from Getting Guns  

November 20, 2019 —  Giffords, the gun safety organization co-founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, released the following statement after Senator Joni Ernst, the lead Republican negotiator on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, introduced a version of the bill without the House-passed provisions to close the boyfriend and stalker loopholes that allow domestic abusers to obtain firearms.

Statement from Robin Lloyd, Giffords Managing Director:

“Months ago, the House passed a bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act with strong protections for survivors who are threatened by armed domestic abusers. Yet the Senate majority’s only response, after all this time, is a bill that maintains easy access to firearms for individuals with a record of threatening behavior and criminal convictions. Instead of prioritizing the safety of women and families and holding an open debate, Senator Ernst and her Republican allies put the NRA’s wish list first. In the meantime, women continue to be threatened and harmed by guns in the hands of abusers. It’s unbelievable and unacceptable that we’re in this place today where some of our elected leaders care more about protecting domestic abusers than they do victims. American women and families need leadership, and we need it now.”

About the Gun Violence Prevention Measures in House-Passed VAWA Reauthorization:

The House-passed VAWA reauthorization would make 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.

Related Resources