How The New Federal Gun Law Could Affect Domestic Violence Cases

How The New Federal Gun Law Could Affect Domestic Violence Cases

Millions of American women are affected by domestic violence every year, but the new federal gun law, or compromise legislation, could add a must-needed layer of protection for these victims.

More specifically, 4.5 million women have survived threats by an intimate partner armed with a gun. But, with laws in place requiring people who have abused their partners to turn in their guns, there are 16 percent fewer partner gun homicides.

Congress passed the bill, one of the most significant federal gun safety measures in decades, and now it is awaiting the President to sign it into law.

Breaking Down How the New Federal Gun Law Could Affect Domestic Violence Cases

The new gun compromise legislation will give funds toward school safety, mental health, crisis intervention programs on the state level, and incentives for those states that include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)

The new federal gun law could specifically affect domestic violence cases nationwide by closing the “boyfriend or dating partner loophole.” Previously, this loophole only prohibited domestic abusers from having guns if they:

  • Had been married to the victim
  • Had lived with the victim
  • Had a child with the victim

The new bill would ban anyone convicted of domestic violence from having a gun if the criminal has a continuing serious relationship that is romantic or intimate. California is dedicated to closing this dating loophole. If convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime, however, the bill does restore the person’s gun rights after five years if no other crimes have been committed.

The new gun bill would also require more gun sellers who sell guns as primary sources of income to register as Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers, which means they must order background checks before they sell a gun to someone. The legislation will also strengthen the war against gun trafficking, making it easier to go after people who are buying guns for those who are not allowed to purchase guns on their own. 

How do Guns Affect Domestic Violence?

When a partner or spouse has access to a gun, a domestic violence victim is five times more likely to be killed. And domestic violence assaults that involve a gun are 12 times more likely to be deadly than when the assaults involve other weapons or bodily force. 

The rates of domestic violence-related gun violence cases in the United States are some of the highest in the world, making women 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in similar high-income countries. 

More statistics on how guns affect domestic violence include:

  • More than 600 women in the United States are fatally shot by an intimate partner each year. That is about one every 14 hours.
  • More than half of all intimate partner homicides in the United States are committed by using guns.
  • Nearly 1 million American women were shot at by an intimate partner and survived domestic violence assault, and 4.5 million women alive today were threatened by a gun by an intimate partner.

How Can Stronger State and Federal Gun Laws Affect Domestic Violence Cases?

With stronger gun safety laws in place at the state and federal levels, lives can be saved, and people can be kept from accessing guns after they have been convicted of domestic violence or while in the middle of active court orders. They can also prevent guns from landing in the hands of those who use them to intimidate, abuse, and coerce their victims. 

Stiffer Gun Laws Can Restrict Access and Save Lives

It is proven that states that restrict access to guns to people who have demonstrated a history of domestic violence and abuse and are in the midst of a restraining order saw a 13 percent decrease in gun homicides. 

The closing of loopholes helps tremendously as well. Over half of domestic violence homicides are committed by dating partners. When states closed the dating loophole and those criminals provided proof that they relinquished their firearms, those states saw a 16 percent reduction in homicides. 

Unfortunately, today’s federal laws do not prohibit those convicted of misdemeanor stalking crimes from owning guns. This “stalking gap,” according to a study of female murder victims in 10 cities, led to 76 percent of women murdered and 85 percent of women surviving a murder by a former intimate partner who stalked them the year leading up to the incident.

Background Checks Can Save Lives

More than 300,000 people (one in 13) with a past record of domestic abuse have been declined by the federal background check system, proof that background checks are vital to preventing those with that history from getting guns. 

Background checks, however, are not required by unlicensed, private sellers. Another loophole that allows potential gun buyers with a domestic violence record to lean on private sellers for access to guns. 

How is Domestic Violence Defined?

According to California law, domestic violence involves abuse or threats between two people who are or have been involved in an intimate relationship, which can extend beyond two married spouses living together. 

The abuse itself can include:

  • Sexual assault
  • Physically hurting or threatening to hurt someone
  • Promising to harm someone
  • Harassing, stalking, or destroying someone’s personal property.

Physical abuse can not only include shooting a gun or threatening with a gun, but also hitting, shoving, kicking, pushing, pulling hair, throwing things, or physically keeping you from freely coming and going from your home. It can also include the physical abuse of family pets. Domestic abuse can also come in the form of verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse. 

What to do Legally After a Domestic Abuse Assault

If any Californian has been involved in a domestic violence situation or knows of a loved one who has, it is a serious issue. It should call for legal action by an attorney experienced in domestic violence cases to fight for the protection of the abused and their families. It is best for the safety and security of their future and for the abuser to face serious consequences for their actions. 

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