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Dingell, Donovan Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Survivors of Dating Violence, Stalking from Gun Violence

U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and U.S Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) today introduced the bipartisan Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, legislation that protects survivors of dating violence and stalking by closing loopholes that allow abusers and stalkers access to guns. Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

“No woman should ever live in fear for her life or safety because of domestic violence,” said Dingell. “In communities across the country, too many families experience senseless tragedies that could have been prevented. This bipartisan bill makes commonsense updates to our laws to protect survivors of dating abuse and stalking, and ultimately save lives.”

“When I was District Attorney, the crimes that kept me up at night were the ones that could have been prevented. There are clear warning signs – including a stalking conviction – before somebody commits serious acts of violence against a current or estranged partner,” said Donovan. “It’s common sense to keep tools of violence out of their hands. I know from experience that this legislation will save lives, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

“Guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix. Every 16 hours a woman is fatally shot in our country by an ex-spouse or intimate partner. As a nation, we should be outraged,” said Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “This bill won’t stop every act of violence, but it does represent a major step forward that will help make women and their families safer. I applaud Senator Klobuchar, Congresswoman Dingell and Congressman Donovan for putting politics aside and introducing a bipartisan proposal. I urge my former colleagues in Congress to support this responsible legislation to help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and make our country a safer place to live.”

The Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act makes two commonsense updates to federal law to address existing loopholes that make it easy for perpetrators of dating violence and those convicted of misdemeanor stalking to legally access guns. The bill would:

  1. Ensure people who have abused dating partners are prohibited from buying or owning firearms: Current federal law prohibits someone from owning a gun if they are convicted of abusing a spouse, someone they live with, or someone they have a child with from getting guns. But federal law does not include people who have abused a current or former dating partner. Abuse of a dating partner is as unacceptable as domestic abuse, plain and simple.
  2. Close the loophole that lets some convicted stalkers access guns: This legislation clarifies existing law to make clear that convicted stalkers cannot legally purchase a firearm. Stalking is a sadly accurate predictor of future violence. One study of female murder victims found that 76 percent of women murdered by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder.

Since 2008, states have enacted over 40 new laws addressing the nexus of access to guns and domestic violence. This year, five states passed laws to protect domestic violence victims: Maryland, New Jersey, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. In 2016, Connecticut, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin passed similar legislation to protect women and families from abusers with guns.

The Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act would make these protections the national standard. For more information on the bill, please click here.

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