Last week, the House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the 25-year-old Violence Against Women Act, which helps to fund programs for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.
But just one month after celebrating women during Women’s History Month, all of Louisiana’s Republican representatives joined most other House Republicans in voting against the reauthorization, at the urging of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The NRA objects to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) because it contains a provision that prevents those who have been convicted of stalking, sexual assault, or domestic abuse from buying or owning firearms. According to the NRA, that provision infringes on the Second Amendment rights of those people.
While current federal law already prohibits spouses or former spouses who have been convicted of abuse from buying firearms, the language in the VAWA closes what’s known as the “boyfriend loophole” by subjecting unmarried partners to the same restrictions.
The NRA notified Capitol Hill offices that it was calling for a “no” vote and would be “scoring” how lawmakers voted on the bill to measure future election endorsements. According to NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker, the group supports the VAWA without the new gun restrictions.
Congressional Democrats seemed skeptical. “If we are doing a Violence Against Women Act and we are trying to save lives, why would you not close a simple loophole that says if someone has been convicted – convicted, not accused – convicted of domestic violence, that they not have access to a gun,” asked Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI).
Thirty-three Republicans joined Democrats in voting to reauthorize the VAWA with the new restrictions. Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick co-sponsored the measure and doesn’t agree with the NRA’s views. “I tell my colleagues all the time, I think the biggest threat to the Second Amendment is when you allow all of these gun crimes to occur unaddressed, because that erodes people’s confidence and trust in people that are legitimately trying to protect themselves and their families and their homes.”
It is unclear whether the bill can now pass the Senate with the new gun restrictions in place.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_