Klobuchar & Dingell promoted their bill to protect dating partners by closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’ and prevent convicted stalkers from obtaining a gun

ANN ARBOR, MI – Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI) held a public policy discussion with domestic violence advocates, law enforcement, and community leaders. The conversation highlighted the need for the Senate to take action and pass a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which the House passed last month.

“Violence is violence, regardless of where it takes place,” Klobuchar said. “I’ve fought hard to pass legislation to protect victims of domestic violence, ensuring that law enforcement have the tools they need to prevent and prosecute these horrific acts. Survivors should receive the support they deserve to get back on their feet and we must continue to speak out. As Congresswoman Dingell and her colleagues in the House recently passed the Violence Against Women Act, I urge my colleagues in the Senate to do the same.”

Joining the lawmakers were SafeHouse Executive Director Barbara Niess-May, Washtenaw County Sherriff Jerry Clayton, Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Mackie, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Michigan Chapter Lead Emily Durbin, SafeHouse Director of Programs and Services, Kimberli Montgomery, Executive Director of Public Safety and Security at the University of Michigan, Eddie Washington, and Miss Michigan Emily Sioma – a survivor of campus sexual assault.

The VAWA reauthorization bill that passed the House includes a provision based on Dingell and Klobuchar’s legislation to close what is commonly referred to as the ‘boyfriend loophole’ by preventing people who have been convicted of abusing a dating partner 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 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 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 passage of VAWA in 1994 and its reauthorization in 2000, 2005, and 2013 were supported by bipartisan majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives. 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. 

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 2018, Klobuchar and Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) 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 spent her career fighting for victims of domestic abuse, women and children. Since coming to Congress, she has spoken passionately about her experiences and those of women who come to her for help. With Klobuchar, she has introduced the bipartisan Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act that closes loopholes which make it easier for perpetrators of dating violence and those convicted of misdemeanor stalking to legally access guns. In VAWA, Dingell expanded on the health titles in the bill to strengthen the healthcare system’s identification, assessment and response to domestic violence, sexual assault and dating violence survivors with an expanded focus on accessing behavioral health and safety resources across the lifespan.