Bill introduced after Senate Republicans refused to back House-passed Violence Against Women Act that closes loopholes
November 13, 2019 — Giffords, the gun safety organization co-founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, praised Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senate Democrats for introducing legislation to close the boyfriend and stalker loopholes that allow domestic abusers to obtain firearms. The bill follows an announcement from Senator Joni Ernst, the lead Republican negotiator on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, who last week declared the Senate’s version would not include bipartisan House-passed provisions related to access to firearms for domestic abusers.
Statement from Robin Lloyd, Giffords Managing Director:
“Senate Republicans, led by Joni Ernst, would rather give in to gun lobby demands on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act than listen to the majority of Americans. Thankfully, there are still leaders in the Senate that understand the reality of domestic violence in this country. Today, Senator Feinstein and Senate Democrats have offered legislation that addresses the needs of survivors. We’ve heard the statistics: a woman is fatally shot by an intimate partner every 16 hours. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely the woman will die. Now, we’re seeing lawmakers refuse to give up on the solutions violence survivors and advocates have demanded. The House had the courage to pass this bill seven months ago. We have no more time to waste. I urge the Senate to do the same.”
Senator Feinstein’s Legislation:
Feinstein’s legislation follows the bipartisan House-passed VAWA reauthorization by making 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.
- Giffords News Release: Giffords Condemns Senate Republicans for Refusal to Back House-Passed Violence Against Women Act
- Giffords Law Center Fact Sheet: Guns and Domestic Violence
- Giffords Fact Sheet: Gun Provisions in the House-Passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019