Legislation closes the ‘boyfriend loophole’ and prevents convicted stalkers from buying a gun

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) reintroduced the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act to close what is commonly referred to as the ‘boyfriend loophole.’ This legislation will prevent people who have abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms and stop convicted stalkers from possessing a gun.

According to the Department of Justice, nearly half of women killed by intimate partners involve a dating partner, and 76 percent of women who were murdered by intimate partners were first stalked by their partner. The bill has 37 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 the serious emotional and physical toll domestic violence and stalking can take on victims, and I know that many fear not only for their own lives but also the safety of their loved ones,” Klobuchar said. “This bill will close a dangerous loophole and stop abusive dating partners and convicted stalkers from buying or owning a gun – a common sense step that will save lives. It’s time to protect victims of abuse and their families by passing this legislation.”

"No person should live in fear of a stalker or abuser with easy access to deadly weapons," Dingell said. "Stalking and domestic violence are two of the greatest predictors of future violence, and ignoring those warning signs will lead to preventable murders and deaths. This legislation will end a dangerous loophole that has been exploited too often in our communities with tragic consequences."

"It is vitally important that Congress take action to empower survivors of domestic violence with the security they need. The Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act takes a measured approach to prevent convicted abusers and stalkers from accessing weapons,” Fitzpatrick said. “I am proud to work with Senator Klobuchar and Congresswoman Dingell to enact this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will save lives and ensure the safety of women and their families across our nation.”

“Perpetrators of domestic abuse use guns as a way to intimidate women and families and trap them in desperate situations. It should anger all of us how many abusers and stalkers are able to slip through cracks in our laws and obtain guns. This past year, as households were forced to shelter in place, the problem became worse as we saw an explosion in violence, too often connected to a gun. It’s time to better protect victims of domestic violence and save lives by passing this legislation. I thank Senator Klobuchar along with Representatives Debbie Dingell and Brian Fitzpatrick for their steadfast commitment to ensuring that America finally confronts the horrors of guns and domestic violence,” said Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

“We must work to disarm all domestic abusers, regardless of whether they’re a married spouse or a dating partner. The boyfriend and stalker loopholes are a death sentence for many American women, who are just as likely to be killed by a dating partner as by a spouse. I’m grateful for Senator Klobuchar’s continued leadership on this issue, and our grassroots army is standing behind her as she fights to close this deadly loophole for good,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

“Half of intimate partners are killed by dating partners, and more than half of intimate partner homicides are committed with firearms,” said Ruth Glenn, President and 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.”

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. Earlier this month, Klobuchar and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) reintroduced the Abby Honold Act— legislation inspired by Abby Honold, a former student of the University of Minnesota and rape survivor, to promote the use of trauma-informed techniques by law enforcement when responding to sexual assault crimes. Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN) also reintroduced bipartisan companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

This legislation is cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

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