Close the Boyfriend Loophole for Domestic Violence Gun Bans
As we piece together the terrible personal histories of the mass shooters in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, once again we are reminded that the majority of mass shooters have a history of intimate partner violence and domestic abuse. Extensive data have shown that people who abuse and threaten partners and family members are even more dangerous when they have access to firearms. In fact, abused women are 5 times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser has access to a gun. Although keeping guns out of abusers' hands reduces gun violence, major loopholes in federal gun safety laws allow users to readily access firearms. For example, federal law does not consider an assault domestic violence if the abuser and victim were in a dating relationship without living together or having a child together. This so-called "boyfriend loophole" leaves thousands of abusers able to legally purchase guns to use against their victims. Also, although it is well known that stalking is a reliable predictor of future violent behavior (76% of women murdered and 85% who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking according to one study), federal law does not consider misdemeanor stalking as a serious enough crime to limit an abuser’s access to guns. Furthermore, federal law does nothing to restrict an abuser’s access to guns during the most dangerous time for victims of domestic violence, the period when a victim has left their abuser and filed for a Temporary Restraining Order. Until the restraining order is permanent, violent abusers can easily buy and use a firearm. Lawmakers in the House and Senate have proposed several bills to close the boyfriend loophole, protect victims of stalking, and limit abusers' access to deadly weapons. Congress must act now to prevent perpetrators of domestic abuse from accessing deadly firearms. "