The National Rifle Association (NRA) is urging Representatives to oppose the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) due to a provision based on Klobuchar and Dingell’s legislation that seeks to prevent people who have been convicted of stalking misdemeanors from obtaining firearms and protects victims of domestic abuse

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) spoke at a press conference to highlight the need to protect victims of stalking and domestic abuse and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act over the opposition of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA is urging Representatives to oppose the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) due to a provision based on Klobuchar and Dingell’s legislation that would prohibit individuals convicted of a stalking misdemeanor from possessing or purchasing a gun and would close the loophole that allows perpetrators of dating violence access to firearms.

In January, Klobuchar and Dingell introduced the bill in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. The legislation would close what is commonly referred to as the ‘boyfriend loophole’ by preventing people who have been convicted of abusing dating partners from buying or owning firearms. The bill would also prevent people convicted of stalking misdemeanors from possessing a gun­­­—commonsense updates to federal law that many states have already adopted.

“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand how domestic violence and stalking force people to live in fear and pain. At its worst, it can even become deadly. These tragedies are heartbreaking—and unfortunately all too common,” Klobuchar said. “That’s why I’m outraged that the NRA has come out against provisions based on my bill that expands domestic violence protections in current law to include dating partners and prevents people convicted of stalking misdemeanors from possessing a gun. This is about safety and protecting survivors of abuse—I was proud to stand with so many advocates today who support this bill and will keep fighting to get it passed.”

“No women, child, or family should live with fear that a gun might be used against them by someone in their household. I know what it’s like to have lived in a home with a family member that shouldn’t have owned a gun and that resulting terror and distress. I also lived with a man who was a responsible gun owner,” Dingell said. “Closing the ‘boyfriend loophole, which would keep a gun out of the hands of someone who has been convicted of domestic abuse against a dating partner or someone who has been found guilty of stalking, saves lives. It’s that simple. Shouldn’t that be our objective. “

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 Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) reintroduced the Abby Honold Act—bipartisan legislation that would promote the use of trauma-informed techniques in responding to sexual assault crimes. In 2018, Klobuchar and Senator 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.

Dingell has also spent her career fighting for victims of domestic abuse. In April 2018, Dingell launched the Bipartisan Working Group to End Domestic Violence in the House of Representatives. Along with Representatives Ryan Costello (PA-06) and Gwen Moore (WI-04), Dingell formed the caucus to bring together members of Congress and key stakeholders dedicated to ending domestic violence, creating innovative prevention strategies, and strengthening resources for survivors and their children.