The Senate has a problem renewing a piece of legislation protecting domestic abuse survivors because of a clause that would make it easier to take away abuser’s guns.
The most recent iteration of the Violence Against Women Act is at a standstill in the Senate, due to the newly added “boyfriend clause” which would strip known domestic abusers of their guns. The new clause will extend to include dating partners, ex-partners, and stalkers. The Republican Controlled Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, refuses to vote on a bill that would save countless lives due to their support from prominent gun lobbyists, and their fierce devotion to the rights of gun owners – no matter the consequences. Under current laws, domestic abusers can only have their guns taken away if they were married or had children with partners.
The “boyfriend clause” would ensure that all domestic abusers, regardless of their relationship with survivors, are prevented from adding to the body count of women killed by an intimate partner in connection with gun violence. Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell fails to recognize that domestic abuse is not just limited to being between spouses, it can happen between partners who are dating, or no longer involved with each other as well.
Domestic violence is not just limited to romantic relationships, casual or past intimate partners can cause just as much harm with a gun.
Domestic abuse can happen in any relationship
Domestic abusers who are not married or co-parenting with survivors are currently free to keep their guns, putting survivors at a greater risk. The members of the Senate who are opposed, fail to understand that women in casual relationships are as much at risk of gun violence as their peers who are married or have children with their abusers.
Under the current law, domestic abusers who are or have been married or have children together are only ones barred from owning or purchasing firearms. Intimate partners who are only dating their partner, ex-boyfriends, or stalkers are still allowed to obtain or own a firearm even if they are a known domestic abuser Recent studies show that women are the demographic most at risk to be killed by an intimate partner.
As of this year, over 4.5 million women have been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner, and three-fourths report being stalked by an ex-partner. The existing loophole inadvertently allows abusers to continue their habits, albeit with the possibility of killing their partner in the near future. The likelihood of a woman in an abusive relationship being killed by their partner is five times more likely when they own a gun.
The benefits of the “Boyfriend Clause”
Under the current legislation, survivors of domestic abuse are only protected from gun violence at the hands of their abusers if they were married or have children together. Without the boyfriend clause, women whose boyfriends own guns and are abusive have no legal way to take away their guns.
With the addition of the new clause, women who are not in a serious relationship, as well as victims of harassment, will be protected from gun violence at the hands of their former intimate partners. The victims of abusive dating partners have no legal protection from their attackers in regards to gun legislation.
Under the current law, known abusers are allowed to own or purchase a gun despite having a history of domestic abuse. The closing of the “boyfriend loophole” will hold dating partners guilty of domestic assault to the same standard as partners involved in a romantic relationship. Domestically abusive dating partners for too long have been able to possess guns, the closing of the loophole will ensure that survivors of abuse are given the same means of preventive action and protection as women in intimate relationships.
An organization who cares more about the rights of domestic abusers
The National Rifle Association considers harassment and stalking to be “exaggerated forms of harassment” on the grounds of it lacking any close physical contact. What they fail to grasp is that the presence of a gun coupled with the aggressive behavior of stalking or verbal harassment is statistically proven to often lead to the death of an intimate partner.
The opposition to the legislation claims that the closing of the loophole is taking the definition of stalking and harassment to the extreme, resulting in taking an alleged domestic abusers guns away without a valid cause.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of intimate partner homicides involved dating relationships. The National Rifle Association’s refusal to protect dating partners from gun violence is not only irresponsible and driven by their love of guns, but also aids in the spread of the epidemic of women being killed by ex-boyfriends, stalkers and dating partners.