April 4, 2020 — Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of the gun safety group Giffords, released a statement calling for action a year after the House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The National Rifle Association tried and failed to stop a bipartisan vote of approval on the bill, which included provisions to close the boyfriend and stalker loopholes that have allowed abusers to obtain firearms.
Since the bill’s passage, the NRA turned to its allies in the Senate like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and John Cornyn (R-TX), who have repeatedly stopped the House’s bill from coming up for a vote. The ongoing coronavirus crisis has exacerbated gaps in protecting families at risk from domestic violence situations and underscored the need to take immediate steps to help and act on longer-term solutions like VAWA.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:
“As a nation, we have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable. One year ago, Congress did just that by voting to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and, for the first time, close the dangerous boyfriend and stalker loopholes in gun laws. Members of the House sent a strong bipartisan signal of support for women and families who are victims of domestic violence. Leadership in the Senate, however, shunned this bipartisan spirit and showed indifference to those in desperate and life-threatening situations. Instead of doing the bidding of the gun lobby, Senate Republicans need to end this impasse immediately by standing with women and families and getting this done.”
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.