In the U.S., a person who was convicted of physically abusing a spouse, ex-spouse, partner, or co-parent doesn’t have the right to own a gun. However, someone convicted of assaulting a casual dating partner or stalking him or her can own guns, according to The Intelligencer. Democrats in Congress want to change that.
Women who are in abusive relationships are five times more likely to be killed by their partner if he or she owns a firearm. Approximately half of female homicide victims are killed by their partners and half of intimate partner homicides are carried out by casual dating partners. It makes little sense that federal law bars abusive husbands, but not abusive boyfriends, from owning guns.
Therefore, Nancy Pelosi wants to use the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to close “the boyfriend loophole.” Yet, the NRA is fighting against this.
A spokeswoman for the NRA, Jennifer Baker, said that for “many of those ‘offenses’ — and I’m using air quotes here — the behavior that would qualify as a stalking offense is often not violent or threatening; it involves no personal contact whatsoever.” She says the new provision is “too broad and ripe for abuse.”
“Like if you were sending harassing messages to somebody on Facebook, to somebody you never met or somebody you dated five years ago,” she added. “How it’s written right now, you could be convicted for a misdemeanor stalking offense for a tweet that causes someone emotional distress and then you would be prohibited from owning a firearm.”
Baker’s claim is highly unlikely.
The Justice Department defines stalking as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear.” Therefore, the likelihood of a stalking conviction based on one emotionally distressing tweet is incredibly low.