The NRA is trying to block the Violence Against Women Act, because they think violent exes should be able to keep their gun rights
You’d think that it would be easy to reinstate 1994’s Violence Against Women Act, which expired in February, because it has done so much good when it comes to protecting the victims of domestic abuse over the last 25 years. But the National Rifle Association (NRA) is loudly and strongly opposing the law because it seeks to make it easier for law enforcement to take away the gun rights of people who have been convicted of crimes like domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
The updated law contains a new, expanded provision that closes the “boyfriend loophole.” In the old Act, people could lose their right to own a firearm if they are (or had been) married to their victim, cohabited with their victim, share a child with their victim, or are a parent or guardian of their victim. In the new act, law enforcement could also restrict your gun rights if you are or were intimate with the person or dated the person. It also covers stalkers.
And the NRA doesn’t like it at all.
According to The New York Times, NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker stated, “many of those ‘offenses’ — and I’m using air quotes here — the behavior that would qualify as a stalking offense is often not violent or threatening; it involves no personal contact whatsoever.”
She also said the added provision would be, “too broad and ripe for abuse.”
“Like if you were sending harassing messages to somebody on Facebook, to somebody you never met or somebody you dated five years ago,” she said. “How it’s written right now, you could be convicted for a misdemeanor stalking offense for a tweet that causes someone emotional distress and then you would be prohibited from owning a firearm.”
Those who support the provision are quick to point out that to be convicted of stalking, you have to do much more than send a harassing tweet or Facebook message to someone else. They also point out that the leading cause of death among women is violence at the hands of their intimate partners – and that they are only married, or have children with, or live with, that partner about half the time. These numbers will only grow, too, as fewer people have been marrying over time.
All in all, abused women are five times more likely to be murdered by their partner if their partner owns a gun, and domestic violence is 12 times more likely to end in death if a firearm is involved.
Also? A domestic violence study found that in states that have so-called “red flag laws” or extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), intimate partner homicides dropped by seven percent.
In other words, closing the “boyfriend loophole” would save women’s lives.
How is the NRA fighting the bill? It has announced it will “score” the Violence Against Women Act, meaning that anyone who votes for it risks losing their pro-gun voting record and lowing their NRA “grade.” This means that although the bill will probably still pass the House as is, the Senate might remove the new provision just so that the bill can pass at all, restoring vital services that it provides to abuse survivors across the country.
Leading democrats are speaking up against the NRA’s actions, but it may not be enough.
Red flag or ERPO laws that allow the government to take gun rights away from people who are a danger to themselves or other have passed in 14 states, and even get support from some unlikely Republican politicians, including Lindsey Graham, Vice President Mike Pence, and, at one point, President Donald Trump. But, though the NRA has said it supports the idea in theory, it actually actively fights against it, and continues to do so. It’s a stance that will literally lead to the murder of more women.