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Everytown Applauds House for Introducing VAWA Reauthorization to Close Dating Partner and Stalker Loopholes

March 9, 2021

This Bill has the Full Support of President Biden, who Wrote the Original Bill in 1994

NEW YORK — Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, the grassroots arm of Everytown, applauded the introduction of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in the House of Representatives –– a bill that would close the deadly dating partner and stalker loopholes. The bipartisan legislation, which former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to put on the Senate floor after it passed the House last Congress, was introduced last night by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). 

Passing this bill is a top legislative priority for Everytown this Congress, and recent polling shows that 90% of Americans support it –– a number on par with passing another COVID-19 relief package. President Joe Biden wrote and passed the original Violence Against Women Act in 1994 –– legislation that helped contribute to a 64% drop in intimate partner violence rate between 1993 and 2010. During his campaign, he reiterated his long standing support for this bill, writing on his campaign website that he “will enact legislation to close the so-called ‘boyfriend loophole’ and ‘stalking loophole’ by prohibiting all individuals convicted of assault, battery, or stalking from purchasing or possessing firearms, regardless of their connection to the victim.” 

“We must work to disarm all domestic abusers, regardless of whether they’re a married spouse or a dating partner,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “The boyfriend loophole is a death sentence for many American women, who are just as likely to be killed by a dating partner as by a spouse. I’m grateful to Rep. Jackson Lee and her colleagues for their leadership on this issue, despite the gun lobby’s efforts to block their bill to protect women. We urge every member of Congress to vote yes on this lifesaving bill.”

“Last Congress, this bill died on then-Majority Leader McConnell’s desk, even as more than 1,000 women were killed by domestic abusers,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Fortunately, there’s a new majority in town, and the Oval Office is now occupied by the very same leader who wrote the original Violence Against Women Act. Everytown will stand behind the Gun Sense Majority in the House and President Biden as they fight to pass this life-saving bill into law.”

“Domestic abusers shouldn’t have access to firearms, period,” said Leslie Washington, a survivor of domestic abuse, volunteer with the Missouri chapter Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and member of the Everytown Survivor Network. “My ex-husband abused me for nine years, threatening me with his gun and telling me he was going to kill me. Nobody should have to go through that, regardless of whether they’re married or dating –– and that’s why we have to close the boyfriend loophole. I applaud the House of Representatives for stepping up to do exactly that.” 

Last Congress, this bill passed the House with support from 33 Republican representatives despite the NRA’s opposition, then sat untouched on then-Majority Leader McConnell’s desk for nearly two years while more than 1,000 women were shot and killed by domestic abusers. 

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

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