Tuesday 14 February 2023

Domestic violence abusers to be permanently banned from owning firearms under lawmakers' proposed bill

 Legislation introduced last week by two Democratic senators pushed to permanently prevent convicted domestic violence abusers from buying or owning firearms, Fox News Digital reported.

The proposal seeks to add additional restrictions to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, legislation signed by President Joe Biden (D) last year that added convicted domestic violence abusers in dating relationships to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Under the current 2022 law, those recently convicted of domestic violence are temporarily banned from purchasing or owning a gun. Five years after the completion of their sentence, if no other crime has been committed, the convicted abuser would be removed from the NICS list and once again allowed to own firearms lawfully.

If passed, the Strengthening Protections for Domestic Violence and Stalking Survivors Act would restrict "convicted stalkers and all former dating partners convicted of a domestic violence offense from buying or owning firearms, regardless of when the relationship occurred."

Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Debbie Dingell of Michigan proposed legislation last week that would permanently prevent abusers in dating relationships from owning a firearm. The proposed bill would remove language in the current law that requires convicted abusers to have "recently" offended. The Senators' proposed bill would also apply to convicted stalkers.

Klobuchar and Dingell aim to close what has been coined the "boyfriend loophole" in the 2022 law.

"Federal law still includes a 'boyfriend loophole' that allows abusive dating partners subject to protection orders and convicted stalkers to access firearms," Dingell said. "I know this fear all too well. Growing up, I lived in a house with a man – my father – who should not have had access to a gun. I remember the terror my siblings and I felt as we hid from him in the closet and in fear of him using it to hurt my mother."

"As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the serious emotional and physical toll stalking takes on victims, especially when guns are involved," Klobuchar said. "By preventing convicted stalkers from purchasing guns, our common sense legislation will protect victims and help save lives."

Republican Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania co-sponsored the Democratic senators' proposed legislation.

"Domestic abusers should never be allowed access to firearms, period," Fitzpatrick stated. "The current intimate partner loophole allows violent domestic abusers to purchase firearms, and this bipartisan legislation takes that ability away."

The proposed legislation also received support from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) of California, Senator Mazie Hirono (D) of Hawaii, and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D) of Texas.

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