The legislation includes Klobuchar’s provision to protect dating partners by closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’ and preventing convicted stalkers from obtaining a gun 

A second Klobuchar provision promotes the use of trauma-informed techniques in responding to sexual assault crimes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined her Senate colleagues today in introducing legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. The Violence Against Women Act, first passed in 1994 and reauthorized with bipartisan support in 2000, 2005, and 2013, is a landmark piece of legislation that sought to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the United States. The legislation has ensured that victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking have been able to access support services, and brought a new understanding that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking are crimes that our society will not tolerate. The House passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act with bipartisan support in April.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act includes a provision based on Klobuchar’s Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act to close what is commonly referred to as the ‘boyfriend loophole’ by preventing abusive dating partners from buying or owning a gun. The bill would also prevent convicted stalkers from possessing a gun—commonsense updates to federal law that many states have already adopted. The legislation also includes provisions based on Klobuchar’s Abby Honold Act, bipartisan legislation with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to incorporate trauma-informed techniques and evidence-based practices in responding to sexual assault crimes and improve communication between victims and law enforcement officers.

“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand how domestic violence and stalking force people to live in fear and pain. But it goes beyond just one person or one victim—domestic violence hurts families, the law enforcement officers who protect us, and entire communities. These tragedies are heartbreaking, and unfortunately, all too common,” Klobuchar said. “The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act must strengthen and improve the protections and services we already have for victims, which is why the legislation includes provisions based on my bill to expand domestic violence protections in current law to include dating partners and prevent convicted stalkers from possessing a gun. This reauthorization also includes provisions based on my bill to promote the use of trauma-informed techniques in responding to sexual assault crimes. It has been over 200 days since the House passed this legislation, I urge my colleagues in the Senate to do the same.”

Klobuchar is a national leader in the fight to prevent domestic violence. She is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and prior to her time in the Senate, Klobuchar served as Hennepin County Attorney. In January, Klobuchar and Cornyn reintroduced the Abby Honold Act—the legislation was inspired by Abby Honold, a former student of the University of Minnesota and rape survivor, who brought this issue to the forefront. Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN) also reintroduced bipartisan companion legislation in the House of Representatives in January.  

In 2018, Klobuchar and Cornyn’s SAFER Act—legislation that would reauthorize, strengthen, and extend the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog—was signed into law. In 2016, the Klobuchar-backed bipartisan Justice for All Reauthorization Act was signed into law. 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.