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Can Congress Make It Harder for Abusive Dating Partners and Stalkers to Get Guns?

Professor tells Senate bills under consideration “ride roughshod over” some of the “key rights” in the Constitution.

by
Rodrigo Sermeño

Bio

August 3, 2014 - 2:15 pm

WASHINGTON – A self-described “proud Republican” and gun owner urged senators to close a loophole in federal legislation that allows violent domestic abusers and stalkers to buy firearms.

Elvin Daniel, a gun owner and member of the National Rifle Association, lost his sister, Zina, when she was shot and killed by her estranged and abusive husband in 2012. While holding back his tears, he recounted his sister’s story to a Senate panel.

“Zina loved life. All she wanted to be was to be a good mother for her two daughters,” Daniel told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It has been nearly two years since Zina was murdered, and it is heartbreaking to know that our weak gun laws continue to allow dangerous abusers to buy guns without background checks.”

Ms. Daniel obtained a permanent restraining order against Radcliffe Haughton after he continued to terrorize her even after the two had separated. Under federal law, people with a permanent restraining order cannot buy or own a gun. A gun-law loophole, however, allowed Haughton to purchase a handgun through Armslist.com, an online site devoted to the buying, selling, and trading of firearms – all without a background check on the buyer.

“To this day, I am convinced that the shooter deliberately bought the gun from an unlicensed seller because he knew he couldn’t pass a background check – and that if he hadn’t been able to buy this gun, Zina would still be alive,” Daniel said.

He called for legislation requiring background checks for all gun sales and making it harder for “abusive dating partners and stalkers” to obtain firearms.

“I believe most gun owners would agree with me that there should be a background check done on all gun sales,” Daniel said. “As a gun owner I certainly don’t want guns to fall in the hands of criminals or abusers because it makes the rest of us look bad.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) both have introduced bills that would strengthen federal laws to keep guns away from domestic abusers.

“In most states, somebody subject to a temporary restraining order can lose access to his house, to his children and to his car, but under federal law he can still keep his guns,” Blumenthal said. “Somebody might be considered too dangerous to see their son but not too dangerous to buy a handgun.”

Blumenthal’s bill would ban guns for those who have a temporary restraining order issued against them by a judge for domestic violence. Klobuchar’s bill would prohibit physically abusive dating partners and convicted stalkers from buying or owning a gun.

Until the hearing this week, it had been more than a year since lawmakers discussed the issue of gun policy and domestic violence in the Senate.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) criticized the timing of the hearing, suggesting it was a political stunt because it was scheduled on a date closer to the November midterm elections, despite the numerous requests from domestic violence prevention groups several months ago.

“Only as we are about to head out of town with very few legislative days remaining has this hearing taken place,” he said.

Grassley, the only Republican on the committee at the hearing, said expanding the definition of prohibited people would not reduce gun homicides because there are very few stalking convictions.

“I fear that false hopes are again being raised,” he said. “In Maryland, for instance, zero were convicted of that crime last year, one in Arkansas, and five in New Mexico.  Making these offenders prohibited persons will not accomplish very much.”

George Mason University law professor Joyce Malcolm said the bills under consideration “ride roughshod over” some of the “key rights” in the U.S. Constitution.

Blumenthal’s bill, she said, would allow the seizure of firearms from anyone subject to a temporary restraining order upon the filing of such a complaint.

“The police would be sent to search for, and forcibly seize, any firearms found in his possession. This is a serious infringement of due process, an Alice in Wonderland world in which, like the Red Queen, the new rule is ‘Sentence first! Verdict afterwards,’” Malcolm said.

She then offered criticism of Klobuchar’s, saying the bill is far too broad in its definition and would “net large numbers of innocent individuals” for a misdemeanor crime, such as stalking.

“The Klobuchar bill greatly expands the sorts of individuals who fall within its reach by adding the crime of stalking, a misdemeanor crime, and including a series of individuals who were or are non-co-habitating, those dating, formerly dating or known to the potential victim,” Malcolm said.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a group funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, estimates that 46 women are shot to death by a boyfriend or spouse every month.

Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, a nursing professor and researcher at the Johns Hopkins University, said the rate of homicides of women committed with guns in the U.S. exceeds the average rate in other industrialized nations by 11 times.

According to a Violence Policy Center analysis, more than 1,700 women were murdered by men in 2011. Of those homicides in which the weapon could be determined, 51 percent were committed with firearms.

Campbell noted that a survey of battered women indicated that when a firearm is present, a majority of abusers used the gun to threaten or injure the victim.

“Women who suffer abuse are among the most important for society to protect. Congress has an opportunity to do so by strengthening the laws to keep domestic abusers from getting guns. And ample scientific evidence shows that in doing so you will save lives,” she said.

Everytown for Gun Safety recently released an ad in the District of Columbia, Nevada, Arizona, and New Hampshire that called on three Republican senators to support legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

Rodrigo is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.
Top Rated Comments   
Absolutely. When a restraining order is issue, the victim should receive a "loaner" gun, plus a number of hours of training (required attendance).

Armed women are very rarely victims. Unarmed women, it rarely matters whether their male attacker has a gun or not - they're done for.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Arm the victims.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Can Congress Make It Harder for Abusive Dating Partners and Stalkers to Get Guns?"

Wrong question.

Here, let me help you:

"Does Congress Have Any Authority to Make It Harder for Abusive Dating Partners and Stalkers to Get Guns?"

The answer is, "No. None."

Clear?

11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
I'm tired of women crying to the Court about their treatment by men. If they feel their male partner is abuse or don't like the fact he's a Gun owner, hunts animals and likes to shoot. DON'T DATE HIM TO BEGIN WITH!. STAY SINGLE!!!..And men. If you like the hobby of shooting and value your 2nd Amendment Gun rights. Leave the women in the streets!. The two don't mix. Don't ever teach no woman to shoot or handle your guns. It's bad luck to do so and she'll divorce you soon after...
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you want less gun violence treat it as a crime. See how easy that was ?

If you want to enable criminals who rape and kill, keep trying to ban guns.

Ye shall know them by their fruit. Liberals hate the victims of violent crimes, and love (and support) the people who commit them.

11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have seen so many false charges to obtain restraining order, it seems like the standard operating procedure for angry women.

Better for women who feel threatened to arm themselves.

"the RIGHT of the people to keep and bear arms, SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED"!

11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's frustrating that the argument over guns continues to be framed as a pedestrian self-defense issue--i.e., that the right to bear arms is about defending one's life and property from criminals and angry ex-husbands.

While we certainly DO have the right to protect ourselves against criminals and angry nuts, the second amendment is really about having the unalienable right to bear arms in order to defend oneself from a tyrannical government.

For that reason and that reason alone, we should NEVER give up our rights to defend ourselves with the strongest weapons available to us.

I'm just as sorry as the next person when someone is harmed by a criminal or crazy ex with a gun. But my right to defend myself against a tyrannical government was mine as a matter of birth, and NO ONE has the right to take that away.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course it tramples Constitutional rights. That's what Democrat laws are DESIGNED to do.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
restraining orders are used as a tool by women in our corrupted court systems. putting any man at arms distance from his children, his home and his life during a divorce is an example of this. making false accusations is another (free) tool our 'truth-equality' courts give to women to gain the upper hand.

now the (dem.) gun grabbers see another (win-win) way to help women/punish men while grabbing guns. typical.

how many men & children were kilt in that study? half arsed statistics as usual.

this site is almost impossible to navigate and enter comments. by design?
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Grassley's right that until you prosecute gun crimes more vigorously, criminals will flaunt them.

Incidentally, write your Congressman to support H.R. 2959 Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act.

John Lott's research on the effect of Right-To-Carry laws support H.R. 2959. In fact, of 29 peer reviewed studies of Lott's work by economists and criminologists, 18 supported Lott's hypothesis that shall-issue laws reduce crime, 10 found no significant relationship between RTC laws and crime, and only one - that of Lott's inept detractors - concluded RTC temporarily increase aggravated assaults.

Today, 74 percent of the U.S. population lives in states that have RTC laws and the nation's violent crime rate is at a 42-year low. That percentage would increase significantly, and violent crime might decrease further still, if the legal challenges to California's and Maryland's restrictive carry permit issuance policies, and the District of Columbia's ban on carrying outside the home, succeed, along with the effort to convince Congress to approve H.R. 2959, the Right-To-Carry Act of 2013.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Are you saying criminals will flout (disregard) the law, or that they will flaunt (flagrantly display) "gun crimes?"

I suspect you mean the former, for the latter makes no sense.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for picking the fly sheeit out of the pepper for me there, Sporto.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Arm the victims.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agreed.

Those who argue restraining orders/PFAs/etc are too easy to obtain have legitimate arguments in a number of cases. Still, the threat can exist and must be taken seriously. Arming and teaching gun safety to those protected by the order is reasonable.

A restraining order/PFA is not a felony conviction. There is no reason to strip the individual of constitutional rights.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Absolutely. When a restraining order is issue, the victim should receive a "loaner" gun, plus a number of hours of training (required attendance).

Armed women are very rarely victims. Unarmed women, it rarely matters whether their male attacker has a gun or not - they're done for.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Can Congress Make It Harder for Abusive Dating Partners and Stalkers to Get Guns?"

Wrong question.

Here, let me help you:

"Does Congress Have Any Authority to Make It Harder for Abusive Dating Partners and Stalkers to Get Guns?"

The answer is, "No. None."

Clear?

11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
The civil rights termites never stop gnawing at the Constitution, do they?
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Only citizens rights are a problem. Their abuses of power, even when they lead to deaths or social chaos, are 'phony' scandals. And none of them shall be punished or even held to account. Got that serf?

I reality, I'd like to see a trail of CIA, NSA, ATF and AG after the next election. Put those people in prison for 10 to 20. That'll reduce this sort of behavior.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
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