LANSING (WWJ) – Stalkers and abusers would not be allowed to have guns under a new bill making its way through Washington, D.C.
Michigan Congressman Debbie Dingell is co-sponsoring the bi-partisan Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, which aims to protect survivors of dating violence and stalking by closing loopholes that allow abusers and stalkers access to guns.
“No woman should ever live in fear for her life or safety because of domestic violence,” Dingell said in a statement. “In communities across the country, too many families experience senseless tragedies that could have been prevented. This bipartisan bill makes commonsense updates to our laws to protect survivors of dating abuse and stalking, and ultimately save lives.”
Dingell says the bill works in two ways:
- Ensure people who have abused dating partners are prohibited from buying or owning firearms: Current federal law prohibits someone from owning a gun if they are convicted of abusing a spouse, someone they live with, or someone they have a child with from getting guns. But federal law does not include people who have abused a current or former dating partner.
- Close the loophole that lets some convicted stalkers access guns: This legislation clarifies existing law to make clear that convicted stalkers cannot legally purchase a firearm. Stalking can be a predictor of future violence; one study of female murder victims found that 76 percent of women murdered by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder.
Since 2008, states have enacted over 40 new laws addressing the access to guns and domestic violence. This year, five states passed laws to protect domestic violence victims: Maryland, New Jersey, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. In 2016, Connecticut, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin passed similar legislation to protect women and families from abusers with guns.
A companion bill has also been introduced in the U.S. Senate.