More than 30 years ago I was a young staffer in a domestic violence shelter helping women and their children flee their violent abuser. I witnessed firsthand the power of a gun woven into the tragic tapestry of family violence. And even then, when as a movement we were still trying to understand the mindset of one who would harm those he promised to love, I felt the dread of the deadly consequences of guns in the hands of abusers.
Today, we know all too well what was so troubling to me back then, that domestic violence is inextricably linked to the epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings in our country. It is a tragic connection that has been overlooked for far too long by our elected officials.
Recent events dictate a clarion call to change our laws.
Nearly 4.5 million American women report that they have been threatened by an intimate partner with a gun, according to Susan Sorenson and Rebecca Schut from the University of Pennsylvania.
Closing loopholes and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers isn’t a partisan issue — it’s a moral one. Commonsense reforms would save lives, and most Americans already agree on what needs to be done.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) have proposed legislation to close the “boyfriend” loophole that currently allows convicted abusers to buy and own guns as long as they don’t live with or have a child with their partner.
Another commonsense fix will close the loophole that allows a domestic violence perpetrator to keep or buy a gun after a temporary restraining order has been issued. This bill, proposed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), would protect survivors when they finally leave their abusive partner, the most dangerous phase in the cycle of violence.
A bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives would require background checks on all commercial sales of firearms, including purchases at gun shows, over the internet and through classified ads.
With only 5 percent of all misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence entered into the FBI’s national background check database, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has also announced plans to introduce a bill to address this troubling gap.
Passing each of these bills should be common sense. It is up to each of us to demand that our elected officials end the paralysis and enact laws that would protect everyone.
Lori Weinstein is the CEO of Jewish Women International.