Think about this statistic for a moment: 1 in 4 women in the United States experience severe intimate partner violence. Now think about this: if a gun is present in the situation, the chance of a homicide increases by 500 percent. Shocking, isn’t it?
Yet the U.S. Senate has yet to pass a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Act was first passed in 1994 and has been reauthorized twice. Unfortunately, the VAWA was a casualty of the recent government shutdown and has yet to be reauthorized.
The House of Representatives passed the bill, with Republican support, and it is now up to the Senate to do the same.
At a recent town hall, Sen. Joni Ernst claimed that in her role on the Judiciary Committee, the VAWA was one of her top priorities. She said it never should have been allowed to lapse and she intends to see it reauthorized. So why is the senator dragging her feet? Perhaps because the NRA has now inserted itself into the debate, demanding GOP senators vote against the bill?
Ernst has a decision to make. Will she stand up for women subjected to domestic violence or will she bow to the wishes of the NRA? Will she represent domestic abuse survivors or will she represent a powerful lobbying group? Let’s hope she makes the choice that protects women.