Violence Against Women Act drops gun provisions

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The Violence Against Women Act is one of those laws that, frankly, it’s difficult to oppose from a political standpoint. At least, that’s long been the thinking.

After all, who actually supports spousal abuse as a concept?

The law sought to deal with such horrendous acts and create real change in how we approach the subject. However, the law had to be reauthorized from time to time.

This time around, though, rather than keep the law everyone could agree with, Democrats opted to push things by including provisions that would expand the list of people prohibited from owning a firearm.

Republicans, however, held firm.

It looks like it worked.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced on Wednesday that it had reached an agreement on legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that forgoes a key provision that drew opposition from gun rights advocates.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) was joined by co-authors Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in announcing the legislation at a press conference on Wednesday.

Actress Angelina Jolie, who has been working with lawmakers to promote the legislative effort, was also in attendance with other advocates, along with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who have also been involved in the push.

Feinstein said the legislation will seek to enhance and expand services “for survivors of domestic violence, including survivors in rural communities, LGBT survivors,” as well as survivors with disabilities, and strengthen the criminal justice response to domestic violence.

However, Feinstein added that the bill “is not perfect” and will not address the so-called boyfriend loophole, despite recent efforts by the lawmakers to have it included in the legislation.

In late December, lawmakers unveiled a framework for their reauthorization proposal that outlined a provision advocates said would partially close the loophole by prohibiting individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence against a dating partner from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition. Similar restrictions apply to spouses or formerly married partners under current law.

There were reasons the so-called boyfriend loophole was a non-starter, partially because it’s difficult for law enforcement or prosecutors to successfully determine if a pair of people are dating or not.

Frankly, it looked like it would be too easy to jam up people who weren’t actually in a relationship.

Especially in this day and age when single people don’t really seem to date like they did back in my day.

Now that the provision has been dropped from the Violence Against Women Act, lawmakers will try to reintroduce the provision somewhere else or as a stand-alone bill in the future.

Of course, that won’t do any better than this one did.

In the meantime, Republicans showed they could stand firm and not budge on something like this. Now that those provisions are gone, they can then vote for the bill and dispel all the claims that they somehow opposed the Violence Against Women Act because they hate women or whatever other nonsense is getting dished out.

This isn’t likely to help them much in the midterms, but it will benefit the GOP.