Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

U.S. House Passes Gun Violence Prevention Provisions Critical to Protect Women from Domestic Abuse

VAWA reauthorization closes loophole allowing abusive dating partners access to firearms, includes CSGV-supported suicide prevention amendment for survivors of domestic violence

WASHINGTON ­— The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence celebrates the passage of the Violence Against Women Act of 2021 (VAWA) in the House of Representatives, including landmark provisions that close loopholes allowing stalkers and abusive dating partners to continue accessing guns. The House package also includes a CSGV-supported amendment by Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.), directing government agencies to help prevent suicide amongst domestic violence survivors. The measures will save lives and begin to address gun and intimate partner violence as public health crises. Passing the House during Women’s History Month, the protections will particularly impact women, who are five times more likely to be killed if a gun is accessible in a domestic violence situation.

Reducing abusers’ access to guns saves lives. In states that restrict access to firearms by individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders, there is a 25% reduction in the risk of domestic violence homicide. Guns are used in over half of the murders of women by an intimate partner.

Lisa Geller, State Affairs Manager at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, celebrated today’s vote:

“Today’s House vote is a major step forward that will save lives by closing the loopholes that allow domestic abusers to possess deadly weapons. CSGV has been proud to work with our partners in states across the country to help implement evidence-based domestic violence laws, and we urge the Senate to extend these protections nationwide by passing VAWA without delay. Our gun laws should protect women’s—and everyone’s—health and safety, but we have failed women across this country by allowing domestic abusers easy access to guns. Dating partners are just as likely to commit abuse as spouses, but current gun laws fail millions of people experiencing domestic violence across the country. It’s long past time for our country to act on gun violence and intimate partner violence with the urgency that this public health crisis demands.”

Dakota Jablon, Director of Federal Affairs at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Suicide Prevention Specialist at the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, further commended the House’s vote:

“CSGV is proud to work alongside Representative Teresa Leger Fernández to increase our government’s efforts to prevent suicide in all its forms—particularly supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. We commend Representative Leger Fernández for working to include VAWA provisions that lay important groundwork to integrate suicide prevention policies given the increased risk factors that survivors of domestic violence experience. This amendment will make a real difference for survivors and we look forward to continue working to address the nation’s suicide epidemic as a public health crisis.”

Today’s vote marks the second time that the House has passed enhanced gun violence protection provisions in VAWA. The House originally passed VAWA reauthorization in 2019, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to call the law to a vote in the Senate. Among other important provisions, the legislation updates the definition of intimate partner to include a dating partner or former dating partner, effectively closing the “dating partner loophole,” prohibits people convicted of misdemeanor stalking from purchasing or possessing firearms, and allows law enforcement to use VAWA grants to fund efforts to safely remove firearms from the possession of domestic abusers.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) and its affiliate organization, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV), have led the push for comprehensive policy solutions to address the crisis of armed intimate partner violence. In addition to leading advocacy campaigns to close the dating partner loophole and institute policies that remove firearms from domestic abusers, EFSGV, along with other partners, developed Disarm Domestic Violence, an interactive website that provides a comparative overview of state domestic violence laws, statistics about domestic violence homicides, and information on the statutory process of firearm removal in cases of domestic violence protective orders.

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About the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Founded in 1974, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is the nation’s oldest gun violence prevention organization. We believe gun violence should be rare and abnormal. CSGV develops and advocates for evidence-based solutions to reduce gun injury and death in all its forms.

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