Skip to content

New Here?

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

March 17, 2021

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

The House Passes This Bill Just Hours After Yesterday’s Mass Shooting in Atlanta, Which Killed 7 Women –– 6 of Whom Were Asian Women –– and 1 Man 

NEW YORK — Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, the grassroots arm of Everytown, applauded the House passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act –– a bill that would close the deadly dating partner and stalker loopholes –– with support from 29 Republicans. 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 week by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). 

Yesterday’s horrific shooting in Atlanta, GA is yet another example of gun violence against women in America. Every month in the U.S., an average of 53 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner ––  and by a more than 2:1 margin, racially-motivated attacks against Asian Americans reported during the pandemic targeted Asian-American women. While there are many reasons for this kind of misogyny and violence, weak gun laws are a key factor in the risks women in the U.S. face. And while some of this is going to take a long time to address at its core, strengthening our gun laws by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act can go a long way toward protecting women right now.

“The mass shooting targeting Asian women in Georgia last night is a painful reminder that hateful ideologies –– including misogyny and racism –– are made deadly in America by easy access to guns,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Women are increasingly vulnerable to gun violence –– but in passing this legislation Congress can finally close dangerous loopholes that put women in danger. I’m grateful to Rep. Jackson Lee and her colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their leadership on this issue, despite the gun lobby’s efforts to block their bill to protect women. The Senate must now follow their lead and pass this bill into law.”

“Last night’s tragic mass shooting in Atlanta, in which seven of the eight victims were women, underscores the urgent need for the Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass the Violence Against Women Act,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Last Congress, this bill died on then-Majority Leader McConnell’s desk, even as an estimated 1,000 women were killed by domestic abusers. We applaud the House for passing this bill with bipartisan support, and urge the Senate to swiftly send this bill to the President’s desk.”

“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.”

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.   

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.” And, earlier today, his administration called for the House to pass this bill. 

If you're a member of the media, please send inquiries to [email protected]