NRA opposes Violence Against Women Act trying to stop domestic abusers from having firearms

A woman is killed by a current or former intimate partner with a gun every 16 hours in the US

Maya Oppenheim
Women's Correspondent
Thursday 28 March 2019 14:23 GMT

The National Rifle Association has opposed a bill which protects women in the US against violence because it includes a measure which would give law enforcement officials the power to confiscate guns from those who have committed domestic abuse.

The largest gun lobbying group in America has said they will issue a “key vote” alert against the Violence Against Women Act which warns members of congress their vote on the legislation will be scored and included in their NRA rating, which voters may use to choose whether to support them.

The NRA has long graded state and national candidates from “A” to “F” based on how sympathetic they are to its agenda and their record of opposition to new gun control laws.

The Violence Against Women Act, which was first passed in 1994, is up for reauthorisation this session and aims to tighten gun laws for domestic abusers, as well as improving services for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

After choosing not to weigh in on reauthorisations of the act in recent years, the NRA has come out against the bill because of its “red flag” provisions which expand the list of misdemeanour convictions that lead to permanent firearm prohibitions.

“The fact that Nancy Pelosi and her minions of anti-gun zealots insist on adding a gun-control poison pill to an otherwise good bill is just another example of the shameful politics Americans hate and why they have such a negative view of politicians,” NRA spokesperson Catherine Mortensen told Huff Post.

While those convicted of domestic violence offences against their spouses or family members are already barred from owning firearms under federal law, the law does not apply to individuals who abuse partners they are not married to.

The bill hopes to address what is known as the “boyfriend loophole” which allows convicted stalkers to buy and possess guns, and permits abusive partners to have guns simply because they are not married to their victims.

The bill also includes a provision that would make it illegal for people subject to temporary protective orders to own a firearm. At present, federal law stipulates that only abusers subject to permanent protective orders – which are granted after a full court hearing where the accused individual can state his case – lose the right to own or buy a gun.

It is well known that women are at the greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner. In the UK, 152 (76 per cent) of women killed by their ex-partner or ex-spouse between January 2009 and December 2015 were killed within the first year that followed their separation.

A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health found victims were five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a gun. Other research has demonstrated partners and spouses often take the gun away from the victim and use it against them in instances of domestic abuse.

Domestic violence assaults which involves a firearm are 12 times more likely to end in the victim dying. In America, a woman is killed by a current or former intimate partner with a gun every 16 hours. Intimate partner homicides have dropped by seven per cent in states which have implemented laws allowing confiscation of firearms from domestic abusers.

“Just as many women are killed by dating partners as by spouses, and while there are laws to keep guns from spouses who commit acts of domestic violence, the same cannot be said for dating partners or stalkers,” Everytown for Gun Safety tweeted.

“#RedFlagLawsSaveLives by preventing gun violence tragedies before they happen,” they added.

The NRA donated more than $30m (£21.4m) to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, meaning he received the most gun lobby funding of any presidential candidate.

Researchers point to the NRA’s capacity to wield power by mobilising the electorate and pushing Republican primary elections in favour of pro-gun candidates.

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