Representative for the 24th District of California Congresswoman Lois Capps reintroduced the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (H.R. 2216) to the House of Representatives Thursday to block access to guns for those convicted of domestic violence or stalking.
The bill closes three major “loopholes” in current gun violence prevention legislation, according to a press release from Capps’ office. H.R. 2216 alters the legal definition of “intimate partners” to include “dating partners” to protect victims in abusive dating relationships from potential gun violence, as “intimate partners” guilty of domestic violence are prohibited by existing legislation from purchasing guns. H.R. 2216 also prevents those serving temporary restraining orders and those convicted of stalking from purchasing guns.
Capps first introduced the bill last June in response to the events of May 23 last year. The bill will go to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee for a hearing. Presently, the number of women murdered by their intimate partners using guns is three times as much as the number of women murdered by strangers using guns, knives or other weapons.
Capps’ spokesperson Chris Meagher said the bill draws a legal connection between stalking and domestic violence, thereby prohibiting stalkers from purchasing guns as well.
According to Meagher, the bill will prevent individuals from purchasing or possessing guns while serving a temporary restraining order, the period which precedes the court hearing to assign a permanent restraining order.
“The court will issue a temporary restraining order in the meantime to protect the victim until that full hearing can take place,” Meagher said. “That delay, until they can get the full hearing, leaves victims often unguarded in a dangerous time when their domestic abuser knows that their partner has filed for this protection.”
Meagher said the bill has at least 18 original co-sponsors in Congress, including Coalition Against Gun Violence, National Domestic Hotline and the National Center for Victims of Crime.
“Currently the congresswoman is trying to get the support of her colleagues and get sponsors of the bill and just raise awareness about the importance of this bill,” Meagher said.
Campus Advocacy Resources and Education (C.A.R.E.) staff member and third-year cell and developmental biology major Jackie Wetzel said the legislation proactively addresses sexual violence.
“Expanding the scope of temporary restraining orders, and raising stalking to the same level as domestic violence is especially beneficial to protecting intimate partners from having to endure any more violence or fear of safety,” Wetzel said.
Wetzel said while the bill is not a final solution to partner violence, it is a sign of progress.
“While it is certainly a step in the right direction, in order to permanently eradicate violence against women, we have to see a change in our culture,” Wetzel said.
C.A.R.E. staff member and College of Creative Studies third-year sociology and literature double major Emily Potter said the bill is uniquely effective for its treatment of stalking as a serious crime.
“I believe it’s a good take on the gun control issue by trying to tackle the specific areas where gun control laws are severely lacking,” Potter said. “I especially appreciate the inclusion of stalking in this legislation — stalking is a very serious threat and isn’t discussed enough.”
Potter said she hopes more dialogue about domestic violence will follow Capps’ bill, especially among young men.
“I would like to see discussion spring from this about the roots of domestic violence, namely hypermasculinity,” Potter said. “I don’t think we have enough discussions with young men about this. But again, it’s refreshing to see state legislators take an interest in this issue and make meaningful legislation to try and address it.”