“The No. 1 way that women are being killed with guns is by their beloveds, their boyfriends, their significant others,” freshman Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) said as she argued in favor of stricter gun laws. Her son, Jordan Davis, was murdered in 2012 by a man at a Jacksonville, Fla., gas station who was upset over the music being played in the car Davis was in with friends. She is no stranger to gun violence.
“I am not paying attention to the rhetoric of the N.R.A. because I can’t be distracted. What’s most important is putting forth good legislation to save as many lives as we can,” McBath said in a quote reported by the New York Times.
As the Times reports, the NRA is up in arms (pun intended) over a new provision in the 1994 Violence Against Women Act that is up for reauthorization in Congress after expiring in February.
The way the law is currently written, anyone who is convicted of domestic abuse can have their guns taken away from them if they are currently or were previously married to their victim, live in the same house as their victim, are the parent or guardian of their victim, or have a child with their victim.
A new provision written into the bill closes what the Times calls the “boyfriend loophole” and adds those who have been accused of stalking, abusing or assaulting a dating partner, as well as those subject to a court restraining order, to the list of people who would be barred from buying or owning firearms.
It is a measure to add more protection for women from domestic violence. According to a 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Research, roughly half of all female homicide victims were killed by a current or former spouse or dating partner.
Of course, the NRA had a woman come out to speak against the measure.
Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the N.R.A., told the Times that for “many of those ‘offenses’ — and I’m using air quotes here — the behavior that would qualify as a stalking offense is often not violent or threatening; it involves no personal contact whatsoever.” She also argued that the new provision is “too broad and ripe for abuse.”
“Like if you were sending harassing messages to somebody on Facebook, to somebody you never met or somebody you dated five years ago,” Baker said, then added, “How it’s written right now, you could be convicted for a misdemeanor stalking offense for a tweet that causes someone emotional distress and then you would be prohibited from owning a firearm.”
David Keck, director of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms, was quick to dispel the hyperbole in Baker’s response.
“A single tweet or Facebook message, without significant other conduct, would ordinarily not be enough” to result in a conviction for stalking, Keck said. He also told the Times that about half of intimate partner homicides involved dating relationships.
The House is set to vote on the legislation this week, and even if it passes, the Times predicts that the “boyfriend loophole” will be stripped out of the bill once it hits the Senate.
Either way, women are still unsafe, and isn’t that a bigger issue than partisan politics?