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Everytown, Moms Demand Action Statement as House Prepares to Vote on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019

On Wednesday, the House Will Vote on H.R. 1585, Bipartisan Legislation That Would Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

H.R. 1585 Contains Life-Saving Provisions toDisarm Domestic Abusers and Provide Law Enforcement Important Tools to Intervene When Domestic Abusers are Trying to Illegally Obtain Guns

WASHINGTON– Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown, released the following statements as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, this week.

“Our lives hang in the balance, but the NRA would rather protect domestic abusers’ access to guns than protect abused women,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Even though VAWA has been reauthorized with bipartisan support multiple times over the past 25 years, the new VAWA reauthorization is in jeopardy because the NRA is inserting itself in a federal fight about violence against women, and to make sure abusers continue to have easy access to guns.”

“You can’t reduce violence against American women without also reducing gun violence — women in the United States are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Lawmakers must pass the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which, among other provisions, will make it harder for abusers to get armed and easier for law enforcement to protect victims.”

Last week, the NRA came out in opposition to this bipartisan legislation because it would close the “boyfriend loophole.” H.R. 1585 would protect women from abusive dating partners, by ensuring that their abusers are prohibited from possessing guns under federal law—using the definition of “dating partner” already contained in the Violence Against Women Act. Current federal law already prohibits gun possession by people convicted of or under a restraining order for abusing their spouses, but generally does not cover abuse between dating partners. This gap in the law has become increasingly deadly: The share of homicides committed by dating partners has been increasing for three decades, and now women are as likely to be killed by dating partners as by spouses.

H.R. 1585 would also protect women from domestic abusers by ensuring the FBI informs state law enforcement when domestic abusers fail a background check and are stopped from purchasing a firearm. This notice gives state law enforcement an opportunity to intervene before the abuser can obtain a firearm elsewhere or do further harm.

Women in the U.S. are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries. Put another way, 92 percent of all women killed with guns in high-income countries in 2015 were from the United States. And an astonishing share of this gun violence in America is driven by domestic violence. In an average month, at least 52 American women are shot and killed by an intimate partner, and many more are injured. Nearly 1 million women in the U.S. alive today have been shot, or shot at, by an intimate partner. More information about America’s lethal domestic violence problem is available here.

The gun lobby’s proposed solution is to arm women rather than focusing on policies that disarm domestic abusers. There is no research to support the notion that owning a gun increases safety for women; in fact, studies have shown the opposite. Compared to men, women living in households with a firearm are at greater risk of the weapon being used to harm them. And the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed by an abuser.

What’s more, a study of female intimate partner homicide risk factors found no protective impact of owning a gun among women even when they lived away from their abuser. And a California study found that women who owned a gun died by firearm homicide at twice the rate of women who did not.