The National Rifle Association is looking to make sure that more violent criminals have access to guns, protesting new legislation that would make it illegal for people ‘convicted of stalking and of domestic violence against dating partners from buying guns,” according to a letter obtained by the Huffington Post.
The Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, S.1290, would amend the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, which already prohibits those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from purchasing firearms. The proposed legislation, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN), would expand the definition of “‘intimate partner’ to include a dating partner and any person similarly situated to a spouse who is protected by the domestic or family violence laws” and the definition of “‘misdemeanor crime of domestic violence’ to include the use or attempted use of physical force or a deadly weapon by a current or former intimate partner.”
The letter sent to lawmakers describes S.1290 as “a bill to turn disputes between family members and social acquaintances into lifetime firearm prohibitions.” The NRA “strongly opposes” the legislation because it “manipulates emotionally compelling issues such as ‘domestic violence’ and ‘stalking’ simply to cast as wide a net as possible for firearm prohibitions.”
The NRA tries to argue that the term “stalking” is too broad, and that not all acts of stalking are dangerous to women.
“Under federal law,” the letter states, “stalking includes ‘a course of conduct’ that never involves any personal contact whatsoever, occurs wholly through the mail, online media, or telephone service, is undertaken with the intent to ‘harass’ and would be reasonably expected to cause (even if it doesn’t succeed in causing) ‘substantial emotional distress’ to another person.”
The NRA gives an example of how the bill could be misused, saying “two men of equal size, strength, and economic status joined by a civil union or merely engaged (or formerly engaged) in an intimate ‘social relationship,’ could be subject to this prohibition for conviction of simple ‘assault’ arising from a single shoving match.”
The letter does not, however, say what would happen if two men of unequal size, strength, and/or economic status were involved in an assault.
Sen. Klobuchar told the Huffington Post, “As a former prosecutor, I know how domestic violence and stalking can take lives and tear families apart. This is a common sense bill that would protect victims and keep our families safe, and I will continue to move this legislation forward.”
A report released earlier this month by the Center for American Progress (CAP) shows that in 15 states, more than 40 percent of homicides of women involved intimate-partner violence, and that in 36 states more than half of all intimate partner-related homicides of women involved a gun.
The CAP also reports that, between 2003 and 2012, “guns were used in 61.4 percent of domestic violence homicides of women in Arizona, 73.2 percent of domestic violence homicides of women in Kentucky, and 70.6 percent of domestic violence homicides of women in Montana.”
The study provides examples of cases where stalking escalated to gun-related homicide, including a woman in Mississippi. being shot and killed by an ex-boyfriend in March of this year after weeks of stalking and after she obtained an emergency protective order. It also describes an incident involving a Louisville woman who was shot dead at point-blank range in a Walmart parking lot by a man she had only briefly dated who had a 17-year history of stalking women.
One in six women and one in 19 men will be victims of stalking in their lifetimes. For the NRA to espouse that stalking is not a dangerous enough act to warrant prohibiting those convicted of the act from access to firearms is misguided at best, and deadly at worst.