Although a high percentage of women murdered by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder, federal law allows convicted stalkers to possess and buy firearms. Moreover, though the law prohibits convicted domestic abusers from accessing firearms, it does not apply to dating partners. Loopholes also allow domestic abusers to access firearms. The result is that many victims of domestic abuse are particularly susceptible to gun violence. The presence of a gun in an abusive home increases the chance a woman is killed by 500 percent.
In the 114th Congress, legislation was introduced in both houses of Congress to close those loopholes. In the House of Representatives, Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12) and Robert Dold (R-IL-10) introduced the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act (H.R. 3130). In the Senate, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (S. 1520). The bills, which are identical except for their titles, extend domestic violence protections to include “dating partners” or others “similarly situated to a spouse,” and make it illegal for convicted stalkers to own guns.