Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements applauding the announcement by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that they have reached a deal on a bipartisan framework to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This bipartisan framework leads with the needs of survivors, has the support of law enforcement, and modernizes VAWA, including by addressing the dating partner loophole.
In March, the House passed a separate reauthorization of VAWA with the support of 29 Republicans. The introduction of this bipartisan legislation comes after years of work from Moms Demand Action volunteers urging Congress to take action on this deadly loophole. This year alone, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers have sent over 24,000 messages to their members of Congress asking them to support reauthorization of VAWA with this critical gun safety measure.
“Protecting women from abusive partners is something everyone in Congress should agree upon, but the law currently ignores the fact that women are just as likely to be killed by dating partners as they are by spouses,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We applaud Senators Feinstein, Ernst, Durbin and Murkowski for working to modernize the Violence Against Women Act by addressing the dangerous dating partner loophole and strongly urge the Senate to pass this bipartisan, life saving legislation without delay.”
“This bipartisan framework is a critical step to protecting women from domestic abusers and we applaud Senators Feinstein, Ernst, Durbin and Murkowski for working with survivors, law enforcement, and advocates to help save lives,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Republicans and Democrats alike agree intimate partner gun violence takes the life of far too many women and the Senate should work to get a VAWA reauthorization that addresses the dating partner loophole signed into law as quickly as possible.”
“Far too many people’s perspective of domestic violence is that it doesn’t affect them, or that it’s separate from gun violence. What happened to my family shows that domestic violence happens in every community,” said Doreen Dodgen-Magee, a member of the Everytown Survivor Network whose sister-in-law, Laura, and three nieces, Sarah, Rachel, and April were shot and killed by Laura’s husband, their father, on September 11, 1995. “The Violence Against Women Act must be reauthorized. Women are affected by gun violence every day in our country and yet still there is a lack of global awareness of this problem.”
“As a survivor of domestic gun violence, I know the stakes of keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers,” said Chloe Gayer, a gun violence survivor and member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board from Iowa. “Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a common-sense measure that will save lives.”
Weak gun laws are a key risk factor that contributes to the deadly violence women face in America. Intimate partner gun violence kills an average of 57 women each month. Beyond murders, nearly one million women are living with the scars and trauma of being shot or shot at by an intimate partner. Under current federal law, people convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence are only prohibited from possessing guns if they were married to, lived with, or share a child in common with their victim. The VAWA framework would align the law with VAWA’s original intent and prohibit dating partners convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic abuse or subject to a protective order from purchasing or possessing guns. The dating partner provision would apply only to protective orders and convictions issued after the date of enactment.
Intimate partner violence and gun violence in the U.S. are inextricably linked, impacting millions of women, families, and communities across the country –– which is why closing the dating partner loophole would be a landmark step towards saving women’s lives in America. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed, and women are just as likely to be killed by dating partners as by spouses. More information on the link between guns and domestic violence is available here and resources for survivors of domestic abuse can be found here.