If a man in New Orleans drives over to his girlfriend’s home and beats her senseless, the National Rifle Association has his back.
Under existing Louisiana law, a person convicted of using “force or violence” against another member of their “household” loses their right to possess a firearm. If someone abuses a romantic partner that they do not live with, however, they are still allowed to carry a gun.
State Rep. Helena Moreno (D) hoped to close this loophole with legislation that expanded the state’s definition of domestic abuse battery to include violence against a “household member, family member or dating partner.” Thus, a man who beats his girlfriend would not be able to remain armed simply because the two of them live apart. The bill, however, was watered down considerably — among other things, it no longer includes violence against a “dating partner” in the definition of domestic abuse battery — thanks to objections from the NRA.
The watered down bill also includes several other changes that were made after the NRA objected to the original bill. It no longer expands the state’s definition of “serious bodily injury” to include strangulation. It no longer creates a felony-level crime of stalking. And it no longer provides that a person convicted of stalking cannot possess a firearm.
According to the Times-Picayune, opponents of the “dating partner” provision objected to it because they thought that it swept too broadly — one objector, for example, claimed that it could apply after only one date. It’s not clear why this objector thought that a person who engages in violence on a first date should continue to have access to firearms.
As recently as last year, the NRA supported domestic violence legislation in Washington, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Minnesota, in what the Huffington Post described as a quiet effort to “scale back its scorched-earth campaigns against stricter domestic violence laws.” Their opposition to Moreno’s bill, at least in his original form, however, suggests that this relative moderation on domestic violence may be short-lived.