AS DIVIDED SUPREME COURT IS SET TO CONSIDER GUN BAN FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTIONS, SURVIVORS & ADVOCATES PUSH FOR LEGISLATION TO CLOSE DV GUN LOOPHOLE

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U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

New York, NY  As the now-divided U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case next week that could allow many domestic abusers to keep firearms, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Richard Blumenthal, along with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., domestic violence survivors and advocates, today urged the passage of new legislation to close DV gun loopholes and prevent domestic abusers from possessing firearms.

Next Monday, February 29th, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear Voisine v. United States, a case that could determine what type of domestic abuse convictions result in the abuser being banned from possessing a firearm. An unfavorable ruling by the now-divided Supreme Court could narrow some states’ ability to prevent abusers from getting a gun and could allow many convicted domestic violence abusers to get or keep guns.

Senators Gillibrand and Blumenthal are pushing for legislation that would help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. The Senators are urging congress to pass the Lori Jackson Domestic Survivor Protection Act (S. 1834), a bill to close the temporary restraining order and dating violence loopholes to keep guns out of the hands of more abusers. They are also pushing for the Domestic Violence Gun Homicide Prevention Act of 2015 (S. 2198), legislation that would give states additional resources to remove firearms from domestic abusers. Both pieces of legislation were introduced by Senator Blumenthal in 2015.

“We have a now-divided Supreme Court set to hear a case next week that could allow domestic violence abusers to have guns,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is important now, more than ever, to close these DV gun loopholes and make sure guns stay out of the hands of domestic abusers. I’m pushing for common sense reforms that will close these loopholes, prevent tragedies, and stop domestic abusers from getting a gun.”ý

United States Senator Richard Blumenthal
U. S. Senator Richard Blumenthal

“The tragic truth is that guns and domestic violence make a deadly mix,” said Senator Blumenthal. “A woman is five time more likely to die in a domestic violence incident if there is a gun in the home. The most dangerous time for a woman is when she ends a relationship– telling her partner, it’s over– but she is often least protected at that time of maximum rage. Temporary court orders in many states permit abusers to retain their guns during those first weeks– until a permanent order is entered, often too late. A temporary court order failed to protect Lori Jackson–gunned down by her estranged husband– and the bill I named for her would close this gaping loophole. Even as the Supreme Court considers this issue, Congress must act to protect against this scourge.”
“The reality of domestic violence is devastating enough for victims and their families; if abusers are allowed to purchase and own guns, it only embolden them to terrorize their victims. We must not allow these individuals the ability to cause even greater pain. As a survivor of gun related domestic violence, I support Senators Gillibrand and Blumenthal for pushing to limit abusers ability to own and purchase guns,” said Doreen Lesane, domestic violence survivor.
“The reason American women are 11 times more likely to be murdered than women in other advanced nations is because it’s so easy for a domestic abuser to get his hands on a gun. When a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, the risk of homicide increases by 500%. In 2014, firearms were used in 29% of intimate partner murders in the state of NY (18% in NYC and 38% upstate). We are advocating to close loopholes in NY State law that allow someone with a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence conviction to keep their guns and to give law enforcement and family members the opportunity to have guns temporarily removed from domestic violence situations. We applaud Senator Gillibrand for addressing the even bigger loopholes in federal law that allow convicted stalkers and abusive dating partners to buy and possess guns. When harm is intended, either towards oneself or others, a gun is the most lethal choice. Congress must do its job and protect women and children by keeping that choice – a gun – away from those intent on harming our most vulnerable citizens,” said Leah Barrett, Executive Director, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

The Temporary Restraining Order Loophole
When a domestic violence victim first asks for help, the court can issue a temporary restraining order to immediately protect them during the few days or weeks until the court can issue a permanent restraining order. Current federal law protects domestic violence victims by preventing their abusers from purchasing or possessing a firearm, but only once the court issues a permanent restraining order. The most dangerous time for a victim is when an abuser first learns that his victim has left and only a temporary order is in place. Yet during this time of heightened anger, the abuser is free to keep their firearms or even to purchase new guns. Victims are left unprotected exactly when they are in the most danger.

The Dating Violence Loophole
The current definition of “intimate partner” used to define which abusers cannot purchase or possess a gun only includes abusers who live with, married, or had a child with their victim. The many victims of dating violence who do not live with or have children with their abusers are not protected.

The Facts on Domestic Violence and Guns
*         An average of 760 Americans were killed with guns annually by spouses, ex-spouses or dating partners between 2006 and 2014, according to an Associated Press analysis of FBI and Florida data; more than 80 percent of those killed were women.
*         93% of women killed by men know their murderer, a majority of whom are intimate partners, according to a September 2015 report by theý Violence Policy Center.
*         Domestic assaults are 12 times more likely to be fatal if a gun is involved, according to a Johns Hopkins report.
*         The presence of a gun in a home makes domestic violence five times more likely to lead to murder, according a 2014 report by Everytown for Gun Safety.
*         American women are 11 times more likely to be shot to death than women in other developed countries, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

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