Need to Know: 2 Gaps in Federal Gun Law on Domestic Abuse

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A march for gun control in Washington, D.C.

Credit: Elvert Barnes on Flickr, under Creative Commons

A march for gun control in Washington, D.C.

(WOMENSENEWS)– Hillary Clinton’s unveiling of a gun control plan that targets perpetrators of domestic violence is important.

Nearly one-third of all women murdered in recent years have been killed by current or former intimate partners, reports the Bureau of Justice.

But why does the U.S. need another federal law given the existence of the Lautenberg Amendment, a federal law adopted in 1996 that is formally known as the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban?

This law prohibits the purchase of firearms and ammunition by people convicted of misdemeanors for domestic violence or those who are subject to certain domestic violence protection orders.

By July 31, 2014, over 109,000 people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes had been denied permits. The FBI reported this as the third most common reason for rejecting applicants.

Many perpetrators, however, fall outside the federal law’s provisions. Here are the two big loopholes:

  1. Many domestic violence cases never go to trial or result in a conviction.
  2. Survivors of dating relationships and stalkers fall outside the law’s scope because of antiquated definitions of relationships. People convicted of domestic violence offenses against partners they have never been married to, cohabited with or had a child with may possess guns. Between 2003 and 2012, more nonfatal violence was committed against women by current or former dating partners (39 percent) than current or former spouses (25 percent), the Bureau of Justice reports.

This information was excerpted on a need-to-know basis from a Women’s eNews story published earlier this year.

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