March 16, 2021

Wyden Co-sponsors Legislation Closing Loophole to Protect Domestic Abuse Survivors

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said today he is co-sponsoring legislation that would protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence.

“Back in 2018, Oregon closed the ‘boyfriend loophole,’ protecting domestic abuse survivors from gun violence at the hands of their abusers. Domestic abuse survivors in every single state deserve the same level of protection as Oregonians,” Wyden said. “Congress must swiftly pass this needed public safety measure to help keep our most vulnerable safe.”

The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act to close loopholes that let domestic abusers legally obtain weapons is named in memory of Lori Jackson, a Connecticut mother of two who was shot and killed by her estranged husband. He had legally obtained a handgun although he was subject to a temporary restraining order. The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to take up the legislation this week as part of its reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Current federal law protects domestic violence survivors from gun violence by preventing their abusers from buying or possessing a firearm – but only once the court has issued a permanent restraining order. This leaves survivors unprotected exactly when they are in the most danger: when domestic abusers first learn their victim has left and only a temporary restraining order is in place. Further, the current definition of “intimate partner” used to prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence from buying or possessing a firearm includes spouses, former spouses, people with a child in common, and cohabitants. However, there are many survivors of dating violence who were never married, do not live with their abuser, and have no children.

This bill would restrict those under temporary restraining order from buying or possessing a firearm, and would extend protections to domestic violence survivors who have been abused by their dating partners.

In addition to Wyden, other co-sponsors of the legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) include U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The legislation’s supporters include the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, Brady, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Newtown Action Alliance, Sandy Hook Promise, and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV).

“Armed domestic abusers pose a unique danger to their victims and their communities. An estimated 4.5 million American women alive today have been threatened by an abuser with a firearm; 1 million have either been shot or shot at. An abuser’s possession of a firearm is correlated with increased severity of domestic violence and with increased prevalence of stalking,” said President and CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Ruth M. Glenn. “When a male abuser has access to a firearm, the likelihood that he will murder a female intimate partner increases by 400%. The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act is critical to keeping guns out of the hands of adjudicated abusers. It will minimize risk and save lives."

“More guns were sold in 2020 than any other year. Amid the dangerous surge in gun sales during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a safety warning on its website for the victims of domestic violence. We agree with the DOJ that increased stress and financial uncertainty during the pandemic coupled with more guns in the homes will result in increased risk for the domestic violence victims. In America, domestic violence victims are five times more likely to be killed when the abusers have access to guns. Congress must pass Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act now to keep guns away from abusers to save lives, particularly during this prolonged unprecedented pandemic,” said Chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance Po Murray.

The full text of the Senate bill is here.