House votes to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act, closing 'boyfriend loophole'

House votes to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act, closing ‘boyfriend loophole’

Gun Rights

The House passed legislation on Thursday reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) over objections from the National Rifle Association and Republicans who say it will restrict gun rights by preventing people convicted of stalking or abusing dating partners from buying a gun. Thirty-three Republicans opted to break party lines and vote for the bill backed by Reps. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), the only GOP lawmaker to co-sponsor it. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) was the sole Democrat to vote against the measure, which passed 263-158. Peterson’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment. Congress had allowed VAWA, which provides funding and grants for a variety of programs that tackle domestic abuse, to lapse in February when it was omitted from a massive spending bill ending a partial government shutdown. Bass argued it’s past time for Congress to modernize the law, which was first passed in 1994. “This is our opportunity to respond to the basic needs of victims and survivors everywhere, absent discrimination based on their race, sex, religion or nationality,” she said during debate. Current law forbids firearm purchases for spouses or formerly married partners convicted of abuse or under a restraining order, but VAWA’s new language expands that restriction to include dating partners who were never legally married, eliminating the so-called boyfriend loophole. “According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 people every minute — 20 people every minute — are physically abused by an intimate partner in […]

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