Democrats Introduce Tougher Domestic Violence Gun Control Legislation

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives Wednesday by Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan and Democratic Rep. Robert Dold of Illinois that would prohibit individuals with a history of stalking or abusing dating partners from owning a gun.

The Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act is nearly identical to a bill introduced by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota in 2013 and again earlier this year, reports The Trace.

Although there is currently a federal law that prohibits a person who has been convicted of domestic violence from possessing a firearm, this new proposed legislation closes a so-called “boyfriend loophole” so that anyone convicted of abusing a current or former dating partner would be prohibited from owning a gun. It would also prevent anyone who has been convicted of stalking from obtaining a firearm.

Klobuchar and Dingell reportedly view this type of gun control as personal. Klobuchar worked previously as a county prosecutor and helped establish some of the first domestic violence service centers in the country. Dingell experienced a childhood where domestic violence and guns were present.

“I understand what a gun in the wrong hands can do and the fear and the anxiety that you live with for a lifetime,” Dingell told Bloomberg in an interview. “No one should assume where I am on guns. This is a very narrow bill.

“I don't look at this as a gun bill. I look at this as a domestic violence bill.”

Gun control legislation has been a popular topic of late after the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting claimed nine lives and the Chattanooga, Tennessee, military facility shooting claimed five lives.

The difference between gun control legislation of the past and what is being introduced now is that it is now much more focused on specific groups of individuals who may be more likely to become violent.

Earlier this month, the Safer Communities Act was introduced that would prohibit individuals with a history of mental illness from owning or possessing a gun, Opposing Views reported.

Both the Charleston shooter, Dylann Roof, and the Chattanooga shooter, Mohammad Abdulazeez, are believed to have suffered from a mental illness. According to Abdulazeez’s family, he suffered from depression, CNN reports.

Twenty-three state legislatures have either passed or introduced bills regarding gun violence and domestic abuse in the past month, including Oregon, Alabama, and Louisiana.

At this time, a Republican co-sponsor for the bill has not been found.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) does not support the legislation, according to Bloomberg.

“[The NRA will] not stand [for taking away a] fundamental civil right for a misdemeanor conviction,” an NRA fact sheet reads. “[The bill] cynically manipulates emotionally compelling issues such as 'domestic violence' and 'stalking' simply to cast as wide a net as possible for federal firearms prohibitions.”

According to recent study by the Center for American Progress, 6,410 women were murdered in the U.S. between 2001 and 2012 by an intimate partner using a gun.

Sources: Bloomberg, The Trace, Opposing Views

Photo Source: The Trace, WikiCommons