The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) praises Representative Anthony Brown (D-MD-4) and his 50 original co-sponsors for introducing H.R.511, the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2019. Current federal law prohibits domestic abusers who have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or who are subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms, but only if the victim and perpetrator are married, separated, divorced, live or lived together, or have a child together. Currently, an abuser in a dating relationship can pass a background check, even if a court has found that abuser to have committed violence against a dating partner. Similarly, even if a court has found that a victim needs emergency protection from an abuser, federal law does not prohibit that abuser from going out and purchasing a firearm right after the issuance of the emergency protective order. Congressman Brown’s important legislation closes fatal loopholes in federal law that allow dangerous dating abusers, stalkers and those subject to to ex parte protective orders to have firearms.
Ruth Glenn, President/CEO of NCADV states, “Guns are the weapon of choice for domestic abusers intent on murder. This is true regardless of the relationship between the survivor and the perpetrator – dating abusers commit half of all domestic violence homicides. Furthermore, current law leaves victims and survivors vulnerable at the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship – when the survivor first reaches out to the court system for help, seeking an ex parte protective order. We also know that most intimate partner femicide victims are stalked before being killed. The Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2019 will save lives by closing loopholes that allow dangerous abusers and stalkers to possess firearms.”
Approximately half (48.6%) of women killed by intimate partners are killed by dating partners. Stalking is associated with other forms of violence, and one study found that 76% of women murdered by an intimate partner and 85% of women who survived murder attempts were stalked first. In another study examining the link between protective orders and intimate partner homicide in 10 cities, researchers found 1 out of 5 homicide victims with temporary protective orders were murdered within 2 days of obtaining the order, while 1 out of 3 were murdered within the first month. An abuser’s access to firearms increases the risk of femicide by at least 400%.
Americans of all backgrounds recognize the danger armed abusers and stalkers pose to their communities, and we join them in urging Congress to pass H.R.511 as soon as possible.