Legislation would help close the ‘boyfriend loophole’ and prevent convicted stalkers from possessing a gun
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation to keep guns out of the hands of stalkers—a law that already exists in Minnesota—and protect dating partners from gun violence. The Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act would help close what is commonly referred to as the ‘boyfriend loophole’ by preventing people who have abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms. The bill would also prevent convicted stalkers from possessing a gun—common sense updates to federal law which many states have already adopted. Almost one third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner, and a 2011 Department of Justice report found that 76 percent of women who were murdered by intimate partners were first stalked by their partner. The bill has 31 cosponsors in the Senate. A bipartisan companion bill in the House of Representatives is led by Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand how domestic violence and stalking force women to live in fear and pain—at its worst, it can even become deadly,” Klobuchar said. “My common sense legislation would protect victims of abuse and their families by helping to close the dangerous loophole that allows convicted stalkers and people who’ve abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms. We can never stop working on behalf of women, children, and families everywhere to end domestic violence.”
“Domestic violence is not a singular incident – it is a disturbing problem deeply rooted in our society,” Dingell said. “We must address the glaring loopholes that allow convicted domestic abusers to legally purchase firearms. Closing these loopholes in current law is not only common sense, it will also save lives.”
“Congress must take action to empower survivors of domestic violence with the security they need. This bill takes a measured approach to prevent abusers and stalkers from accessing a weapon,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m proud to work with Senator Klobuchar and Congresswoman Dingell to enact legislation that will make women and their families safer.”
“Guns and domestic violence are a deadly mix. But horrifically, our nation has failed to even acknowledge this connection, let alone take action to make it harder for abusers and stalkers to threaten women and families. It’s an outrage that nearly half of all intimate partner homicides are committed by a dating partner who can legally access guns. But we can do better. That’s why I applaud Senator Klobuchar, Congresswoman Dingell, and Congressman Fitzpatrick for coming together and offering a bipartisan proposal that can make communities safer. It’s time for the rest of Congress to step up, pass this legislation, and help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers so we can save lives,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
“Half of intimate partners are killed by dating partners, and more than half of intimate partner homicides are committed with firearms,” says Ruth Glenn, President/CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Dating abusers also regularly use threats of gun violence as a tool of power and coercive control. It is time to update federal law, as this bill does, to recognize the reality on the ground – victims of dating abuse need and deserve the same protections as other victims of domestic violence,” said Rachel Graber, Director of Public Policy at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
“We need to disarm all domestic abusers, regardless of whether they’re a married spouse or a dating partner. I’m grateful to Reps. Dingell and Fitzpatrick and Senator Klobuchar for their advocacy to close the boyfriend loophole, which continues to put unmarried women at risk. Every month, more than 50 women are shot and killed by domestic abusers - which includes spouses and dating partners. Now that our Congress has become more representative of the women in this country, I’m hopeful that our laws will, too,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former Hennepin County Attorney, Klobuchar has been a national leader in the fight to prevent domestic violence. Last January, Klobuchar’s bipartisan Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) was signed into law. The SAFER Act reauthorizes, strengthens, and extends the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog. The Klobuchar-backed bipartisan Justice for All Reauthorization Act was signed into law in 2016. The law strengthens the rights of crime victims by providing the protection they need to restore their lives and enhances law enforcement’s ability to proactively stop violent criminals. The Justice for All Reauthorization Act also aims to reduce the rape kit backlog by supporting grant programs that fund forensic testing. Klobuchar has also championed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and led efforts to pass bipartisan legislation supporting survivors of sexual assault in the military.