The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Mourns the Passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. Senator Lautenberg was long-time champion on behalf of victims of domestic and sexual violence, supporting the passage and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act over the past two decades.

“Today marks a day victims of sexual violence lost an ally and a true advocate. Senator Frank Lautenberg was a champion, and his voice as an anti-sexual violence advocate will be missed,” said Monika Johnson Hostler, President, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

His signature effort on behalf of victims, however, was his legislation making it a federal crime for persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence to possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition. “As those of us in the field know all too well, many violent crimes of domestic violence are pled down to misdemeanor convictions. Prior to the passage of the Lautenberg Amendment in 1996, many abusers who had been convicted of violent crimes against their intimate partners continued to have access to firearms, despite the seriousness of the violence involved in the crime,” said Katie Ray Jones, President of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Senator Lautenberg knew that the intersection between gun violence and sexual and domestic violence was all too often lethal to victims. Abusers with firearms are five times more likely to kill their intimate partners when considering other factors; more than half of women murdered with guns are killed by family members or intimate partners. Female intimate partners are more likely to be murdered with a firearm than all other means combined.

“Although many in Congress have hesitated to address the impact of gun violence on victims of domestic violence, Senator Lautenberg was always unafraid to fight for restrictions on convicted abusers’ access to firearms,” said Rita Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of Senator Lautenberg, who fought to protect victims of domestic violence from firearms violence, the Lautenberg Amendment became law. “

There are still too many victims of domestic violence who are shot and killed by an intimate partner. Yet Sen. Lautenberg’s law helped to prevent a great many deaths of victims by firearms.

“We honor his memory as a true champion of victims’ rights and protections. It is fitting that we will remember his name every time his law, the Lautenberg Amendment, is used to protect additional victims of domestic violence,” said Esta Soler, President of Futures Without Violence.

For more information, please see this report compiled by Sen. Lautenberg’s office: