CREDIT: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
The National Rifle Association has come out in opposition to a bill that would prohibit more domestic abusers from legally obtaining firearms, complaining that the restrictions could apply to partners of the same sex.
The legislation, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), would tighten existing federal restrictions against gun ownership for individuals convicted of domestic violence and stalking. Federal law prohibits individuals with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from owning guns, but includes loopholes that allow convicted stalkers and “individuals in a current or former dating relationship who never lived together or had a child together” to purchase weapons.
Experts contest that the loose federal restrictions contribute to the nation’s high levels of gun violence, particularly against American women, who are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other high-income countries. S.1290 would expand the existing ownership prohibitions to dating partners and deny the sale of a firearm to a person convicted of the misdemeanor crime of stalking.
But in an e-mail sent to Congress on Tuesday, the gun lobby complains that the legislation goes too far by “including expansive and vaguely defined ‘dating relationships’ and individuals ‘similarly situated to a spouse.’” It goes on to single out partnered gay men:
Under S. 1290, for example, two men of equal size, strength, and economic status joined by a civil union or merely engaged (or formerly engaged) in an intimate “social relationship,” could be subject to this prohibition for conviction of simple “assault” arising from a single shoving match.
The e-mail also questions the need for including stalkers in federal restrictions, since stalking offenses “do not necessarily include violent or even threatening behavior.”
Last week, the Center for American Progress issued a report finding that some states have already enacted “laws closing some gaps related to domestic abusers’ gun access.” Still, just ten states bar those who abuse someone they are dating if they did not live together or have children together from gun ownership.
The CAP analysis recommended barring all convicted “abusers, stalkers, and people subject to related restraining orders from possessing guns” and polices that “ensure that abusers surrender any firearms they own once they become prohibited.”