The Huffington Post: For National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Let's Close the Boyfriend Loophole
"Never let the hand you hold, hold you down." These are words of empowerment for millions of survivors of domestic violence in America. The words could also apply to many members of Congress, who must let go of the hands of gun industry lobbyists. Their hands hold campaign contributions but they also hold down gun safety legislation. Closing the "boyfriend loophole" could save thousands of lives because it means stopping access to guns for all domestic abusers, including dating partners. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a great time to pass this commonsense (and common-ground) legislation.
Under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which is current federal law, gun ownership is prohibited for only certain kinds of domestic abusers: current and former spouses, people who have fathered children with a victim, and abusers who live with their victims. A "boyfriend loophole" exists because the language of the Brady law does not include dating partners and stalkers.
In 2013, Senator Amy Klobuchar proposed legislation in the Senate to close the loophole, and earlier this year, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell proposed the exact same legislation in the House -- and two Republican Congressmen are co-sponsors. As of now, neither the Senate nor the House have moved the bills to a vote.
In America, one in three women and one in four men have suffered physical violence from their partners at some point in their lifetime. 94 percent of victims age 16-19 and 70 percent of victims age 20-24 were abused by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend. Based on data from the FBI, every month 52 women are shot and killed by their intimate partners. While some think arming a woman with a gun is an appropriate response to domestic violence, there is ample evidence proving that the mere presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent -- and those victims are the abused, not the abuser. A recent report from the Violence Policy Center showed that 62 percent of women shot and killed by men in 2013 were wives or girlfriends. Guns are a threat, not a protection, to the lives of women struggling with domestic violence.
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