Donovan’s bill seeks to stop abusers from buying guns
Gabrielle Giffords calls legislation ‘a major step forward’
When U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan was serving as the district attorney of Staten Island, he said that one of his biggest worries was that a crime that could have been prevented by law enforcement officials takes place anyway.
Domestic violence involving guns is at the top of his list, he said.
“When I was district attorney, the crimes that kept me up at night were the ones that could have been prevented. There are clear warning signs, including a stalking conviction, before somebody commits serious acts of violence against a current or estranged partner,” said Donovan (R-C-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island), who was the DA of Staten Island before running for Congress in 2015.
Donovan has teamed up with a Democratic House colleague, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan), to introduce bipartisan legislation called the “Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act,” a bill that seeks to close loopholes in gun laws to prevent people convicted of domestic violence or stalking from buying firearms.
“It’s common sense to keep tools of violence out of their hands. I know from experience that this legislation will save lives, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Donovan said in a statement.
Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot by a gunman in 2011, has endorsed the legislation. The Giffords shooting was not related to domestic violence.
“Guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix. Every 16 hours a woman is fatally shot in our country by an ex-spouse or intimate partner. As a nation, we should be outraged,” said Giffords, the co-founder of the group Americans for Responsible Solutions. “This bill won’t stop every act of violence, but it does represent a major step forward that will help make women and their families safer.”
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) has introduced a similar bill in the Senate.
If it becomes law, the bill will help protect survivors of dating violence and stalking, Donovan and Dingell predicted.
“No woman should ever live in fear for her life or safety because of domestic violence,” said Dingell.
Current federal law prohibits someone from owning a gun if they have been convicted of abusing a spouse, someone they live with or someone they have a child with. But federal law does not include people who have abused a dating partner. The Donovan-Dingell bill seeks to close that loophole by including a dating partner in the gun restriction.
The “Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act” would also clarify existing laws to make clear that convicted stalkers cannot legally purchase guns.
This provision of the bill is important, according to Donovan, who said that stalking is often an accurate predictor of future violence. He pointed to one study which found that 76 percent of women murdered by a current or former husband or boyfriend experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder.
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