As Gun Sales and Domestic Violence Surge Amid Pandemic, Casey & Colleagues Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Close Dangerous Loophole to Protect Domestic Abuse Survivors

As Gun Sales and Domestic Violence Surge Amid Pandemic, Casey & Colleagues Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Close Dangerous Loophole to Protect Domestic Abuse Survivors

Washington, D.C. - As gun sales spike and reports of domestic violence increase across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) joined his Congressional colleagues in introducing strongly supported bicameral legislation to protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence. The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act is narrowly crafted to close loopholes that allow domestic abusers to legally obtain weapons. The bill is named in memory of Lori Jackson, an Oxford, Connecticut mother of two who was tragically shot and killed by her estranged husband, who had legally obtained a handgun even though he was subject to a temporary restraining order.

“Family violence, domestic violence and dating violence are a public health crisis in this country, and the failure of Congress to pass commonsense gun violence prevention legislation has made such a crisis even deadlier. In Pennsylvania in 2018 alone, more than half of all domestic violence victims who died were killed by firearms,” said Senator Casey. “The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act would prevent future tragedies by closing the fatal loophole allowing abusers to obtain weapons. We cannot afford to wait for another life to be lost before we take action. It’s time we hold our elected leaders accountable.”

The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act would close dangerous loopholes in federal law, thereby protecting millions of Americans. Current federal law protects domestic violence survivors from gun violence by preventing their abusers from purchasing or possessing a firearm – but only once the court has issued a permanent restraining order. This leaves survivors unprotected exactly when they are in the most danger: when a domestic abuser first learns his or her victim has left and only a temporary restraining order is in place. Further, the current definition of ‘intimate partner’ used to prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence from purchasing or possessing a firearm includes spouses, former spouses, people with a child in common, and cohabitants. However, there are many survivors of dating violence who were never married, do not live with their abuser, and have no children.

This bill would restrict those under temporary restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm, and would extend protections to domestic violence survivors who have been abused by their dating partners. This bill’s provisions are a component of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act, landmark legislation designed to support and protect survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, which continues to stall in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The legislation is supported by a number of advocacy and support groups, including Everytown for Gun Safety, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Newtown Action Alliance, Brady, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV).

Senator Casey joined U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in cosponsoring the bill in the Senate. U.S. Representatives Jim Himes (D-CT-4), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY-4) are cosponsoring the House version of this legislation.

The full text of the Senate legislation can be found here.