Gun violence is a huge problem in today’s society. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was signed into law more than two decades ago to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. With nearly 600 women shot and killed by a current or former intimate partner every year, VAWA is an effort to stop this troubling trend. The bipartisan reauthorization of VAWA will keep this important piece of federal legislation intact and shore up some dangerous loopholes if the Senate will adopt the House version of the bill.
Under current law, firearm prohibitions are not extended to partners who are not married to, living with, or raising a child with the victim. However, nearly half of all intimate partner homicides are committed by abusive dating partners. Additionally, although the original language of VAWA prohibits gun ownership for those convicted of felony stalking, many stalkers are able to plead down these charges to a misdemeanor. This means some of the most dangerous individuals are given the green light to purchase firearms that they can then use against someone they supposedly love. The House-passed version of VAWA will address these areas of weakness in the original bill and existing law.
Congressional reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act is an important protection for those threatened by abusive partners. As an outspoken advocate for women, I hope Iowans can count of Senator Joni Ernst to vote in favor of a VAWA that includes these provisions.