Last week, the House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a quarter-century old bill that assists projects and organizations for domestic and sexual abuse survivors. But it quickly turned into a fight over gun control and the lobbying power of the National Rifle Association, ABC News reports.
Objecting to a piece of the bill that prevents convicted domestic abusers and stalkers from buying or having a firearm, 157 Republicans voted against the bill on Thursday. They claimed that the bill restricts Second Amendment rights.
Current law prevents spouses convicted of abuse from purchasing guns, but a new addition to the bill seeks to address the "boyfriend loophole," as the original bill did not place any restrictions on unmarried partners.
The NRA has mobilized a campaign against the act and urges politicians to not support it.
"The gun control lobby and anti-gun politicians are intentionally politicizing the Violence Against Women Act as a smoke screen to push their gun control agenda," said NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker to the Associated Press. Baker argues that the NRA is strictly against all forms of violence, including domestic violence, and that the group spends millions each year to teach people how to use firearms for self-defense.
“I am deeply disappointed that some Republican Members of this House are using the NRA as cover to vote against this reauthorization, which has been overwhelmingly in a bipartisan fashion reauthorized over and over again," said House Majority Leader and Democrat Steny Hoyer. "These are commonsense protections that prevent domestic abusers from obtaining the guns that have sadly been used so frequently to harm or kill their partners.”
Despite the NRA's pushback, the Democratic-held House passed the bill easily.