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U.S. Senate Committee on Judiciary

08/06/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/06/2020 15:43

Feinstein, Blumenthal, Himes Bill Closes Gun Purchase Loopholes to Protect Domestic Abuse Survivors

Washington-Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Representative Jim Himes (D-Conn.) to introduce bicameral legislation to protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence. The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act is narrowly crafted to close loopholes that allow domestic abusers to legally obtain weapons. The bill is named in memory of Lori Jackson, an Oxford, Connecticut mother of two who was tragically shot and killed by her estranged husband, who had legally obtained a handgun even though he was subject to a temporary restraining order.

'Domestic abusers shouldn't have access to deadly weapons,' said Feinstein. 'A woman is 500 percent more likely to be killed in a domestic violence situation if a gun is present. Our bill closes a loophole that allows individuals under a temporary restraining order to legally possess a gun. Doing nothing is unacceptable.'

'Lori Jackson's tragic death might have been avoided by a stronger protective order - through the reform we seek today,' said Blumenthal. 'During the pandemic, surging domestic violence makes it even more urgent. Domestic violence is five times more likely to turn deadly for women when a gun is available. Six years after I first introduced this reform, abusers continue to exploit this gaping loophole to buy guns to terrorize or kill innocent victims. Congress must act now to save lives from senseless, needless gun violence.'

'Domestic violence affects one in four women nationwide,' said Himes. 'We must do all we can to prevent domestic violence and mitigate its effects. That's why I'm proud to introduce this bill in the House of Representatives to ensure that dangerous abusers and stalkers are prohibited from gaining access to firearms. This legislation is especially relevant since domestic violence incidents have risen as a result of stay at home orders. This bill represents common-sense reforms and should be passed immediately.'

'You don't realize what a family goes through when something like this happens. It doesn't go away, it's with you forever,' said Merry Jackson, Lori Jackson's mother. 'But if you could save another family, a couple of kids, from not losing their mom, it would mean the world to me.'

The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act would close dangerous loopholes in federal law, thereby protecting millions of Americans. Current federal law protects domestic violence survivors from gun violence by preventing their abusers from purchasing or possessing a firearm - but only once the court has issued a permanent restraining order. This leaves survivors unprotected exactly when they are in the most danger: when a domestic abuser first learns his or her victim has left and only a temporary restraining order is in place. Further, the current definition of 'intimate partner' used to prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence from purchasing or possessing a firearm includes spouses, former spouses, people with a child in common, and cohabitants. However, there are many survivors of dating violence who were never married, do not live with their abuser, and have no children.

This bill would restrict those under temporary restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm, and would extend protections to domestic violence survivors who have been abused by their dating partners. This bill's provisions are a component of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act, landmark legislation designed to support and protect survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, which continues to stall in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The bill is also cosponsored by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

The full text of the Senate legislation can be found here and the one pager can be found here.

Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) are cosponsoring the House version of this legislation.

The legislation is supported by a number of advocacy and support groups, including Everytown for Gun Safety, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Newtown Action Alliance, Brady, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV).

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