Current federal law fails to protect many victims of intimate partner violence from gun-enabled abuse and homicide. Although a person convicted of domestic violence against a current or former spouse, cohabitant or victim with whom the perpetrator shares a biological child is prohibited by federal law from owning a firearm, dating abusers and stalkers are subject to no such prohibition.
S.1520 and bi-partisan H.R.3130, bills introduced by Senator Klobuchar and Representatives Dingell and Dold respectively, would close this gap. Urge your Senators and Representatives to support these life-saving bills. Congress will be back home throughout the month of August. Call your Senators’ and Representative’s DC and district offices and let them know it should not matter whether or not a victim or survivor is married to an offender—federal law should protect ALL victims, including victims of dating violence and stalking.
Background: In 1996, Congress passed the Lautenberg Amendment, prohibiting people convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence from owning firearms.[i] Legislators understood that many violent felony-level crimes involving domestic violence are ultimately pled down to misdemeanors. The law already prohibited gun ownership by felons, and Congress expanded that ban to ensure abusers could not use plea bargains to evade the consequences of their actions.
Dating Violence: The federal domestic violence firearms ban does not apply to offenders who harm their dating partners.[ii] Under current federal law, the abuser who punches, strangles or beats a dating partner is still legally able to purchase firearms even if convicted of the misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. This is a serious gap in federal law – we demand Congress fix this!
- A victim is 500% more likely to be killed by an intimate partner if a firearm is present.[iii]
- A majority of intimate partner homicide victims are killed with firearms.[iv]
- Half of all women killed by intimate partners are killed by dating partners.[v]
We must tell our legislators the current definition of ‘intimate partner’ is woefully out of date and insist they expand the definition to include former and current dating partners.
Stalking: Federal law also fails to keep guns out of the hands of persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of stalking. Stalking is a very serious crime and an indicator of lethality, but even a stalker who explicitly threatens his victim’s life is legally allowed to possess a firearm.
- 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have been stalked.[vi]
- 76% of women killed by intimate partners were stalked before being murdered.[vii]
Contact your Senators and House member and ask them to support S.1520 and H.R.3130, bills introduced by Senator Klobuchar and Representatives Dingell and Dold! We particularly need Republican cosponsors for each bill. Emphasize this is a domestic violence bill, NOT A GUN BILL! Tell them that 82% of Americans polled, including 80% of gun owners, support these bills.[viii] Make sure they know that if they support these bills, you and other violence against women advocates will have their backs.
YOUR LEGISLATORS WILL BE HOME FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST. BE SURE YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVE ARE AWARE - EDUCATE THEM AND ASK THEM TO COSPONSOR THESE BILLS!!
ACTION!! CALL OR EMAIL YOUR SENATORS & TELL THEM:
ACTION!! CALL OR EMAIL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE & TELL HER/HIM:
Ask your friends, family and loved ones to call and email too!
WE NEED TO FLOOD CONGRESSIONAL OFFICES WITH CALLS AND EMAILS!
ACTION!! POST YOUR LEGISLATORS’ FACEBOOK PAGES OR TAG THEM ON TWITTER:
- Sample Representative Facebook post: Please cosponsor H.R.3130, a vital piece of domestic violence legislation that will protect victims of dating abuse and stalking from gun violence.
- Sample Representative Tweet: @XXX Please cosponsor HR.3130, a lifesaving domestic violence bill to prevent dv/gun homicides! #protectallwomen
- Sample Senator Facebook post: Please cosponsor S.1520, a vital piece of domestic violence legislation that will protect victims of dating abuse and stalking from gun violence.
- Sample Senator Tweet: Sample Representative Tweet: @XXX Please cosponsor S.1520, a lifesaving domestic violence bill to prevent dv/gun homicides! #protectallwomen
ACTION!! MEET WITH YOUR MEMBERS OR THEIR STAFF AND EXPLAIN WHY PROTECTING PEOPLE FROM GUN VIOLENCE IS IMPORTANT TO YOU:
Your Members of Congress must understand that this issue impacts their state and their constituents. All victims of domestic violence and stalking need protection from gun violence. These bills will save lives!
ACTION!! ATTEND TOWN HALL MEETINGS AND OTHER EVENTS AND ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS:
Ask your Senators and House member, in public forums or letters to the editor, whether or not they will support bills such as S.1520 (Senate)/H.R.3130 (House) to keep guns out of the hands of violent offenders.
- [i] 18 U.S.C. 92(g(9))
- [ii] 18 U.S.C. 921(33)
- [iii] John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research (2003). Firearms and intimate partner violence. Retrieved from www.jhsph.ed/gunpolicy/IPV_firearms.pdf.
- [iv] Bridges, F. S., Tatum, K. M., & Kunselman, J. C. (2008). Domestic violence statutes and rates of intimate partner and family homicide: A research note. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 19(1), 117-130.
- [v] Cooper, A. & Smith, E. L. (2011). Homicide trends in the United states, 1980-2008. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/htus8008.pdf.
- [vi] Fox, J. A., & Zawitz, M. W. (2004). Homicide trends in the United States’ US Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/homtr nd.htm
- [vii] McFarlane, J. M., Campbell, J. C., Wilt, S., Sachs, C. J., Ulrich, Y. & Xu, X. (1999). Stalking and intimate partner femicide. Homicide Studies, 3(4), 300-316.
- [viii] Public Policy Polling (July 22, 2015). 82% of Americans support preventing domestic abusers from buying guns.