Tues 4/2: The “Violence against Women Act” makes the NRA mad. So? Tell your legislator to do the right thing.

Action – HR 1585 – Violence against Women Act (VAWA)

The delay on reauthorizing the VAWA was centered on a disagreement –  the GOP just wanted to just roll over the existing law unchanged and the Democrats wanted to add some important updates, like closing the “boyfriend loophole“. Which means that a lot of women’s lives would be saved. Which means taking guns from dangerous men. Which means, of course, the NRA is stepping in. Which means that what is normally a bipartisan bill process will be facing a lot of GOP members worried about their “A” rating. Which means they’ve never gotten a call from a terrified daughter.

Minimal Script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to thank Rep. [__]  for {his/her} support of  HR 1585  – “Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019

Rep-check here: Both Brownley and Carbajal are supporters!

Minimal Script if your legislator is on this list: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to Rep. [__]  to know that we expect {his/her} support of  HR 1585  – “Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019.” I know that the NRA will be contacting you, as they’ve donated $________ to your 2018 campaign. However, you have more voters in your district like me who want to curb gun violence against women, and we expect you to do the right thing.

Rep. Julia Brownley: email, (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email. (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Who is my federal representative?: hq-salsa.wiredforchange.com

Background: This is not just the “Violence Against Wives and Family Members” Act.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the program that supports victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, was first enacted with bipartisan support in 1994 and with that same bipartisan support, has been renewed and expanded every 5 years, giving people helping on the front lines a chance to improve on it. Its funding expired in February during the government shutdown. Instead of letting it roll over unchanged, Democrats lobbied to keep it out for a full hearing so they could make a number of changes, including closing the “boyfriend loophole“. HR 1585  -“Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019” adds a number of necessary updates, including:

  • adding various gun safety measures such as red-flag laws prohibiting firearms from those convicted of dating violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • Extending programs for youth education and prevention,
  • strengthening protections for victims using housing grants
  • establishing a Violence Against Women director position in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • extending protections for Native American women who are victims of abuse.
  • adding protections for transgender individuals.

Although people convicted of domestic violence against spouses and family members are banned from owning firearms by the Lautenberg Amendment, that law doesn’t apply to abusive dating partners, live-in boyfriends or stalkers, thus creating the disconcertingly cheerful “boyfriend loophole.” The reauthorization bill does what it should do – expand the law to all of the dangerous men who make women in America 21 times more likely to be shot by a gun than those in other 1st world countries. It would also require state law enforcement officials to be notified every time a person who is not allowed to have guns tries to buy a firearm and fails the background check. On average, 52 American women are shot to death by a current or former intimate partner each month and roughly half of all female homicide victims were killed by what experts call “intimate partners’ – current or former spouse or dating partners. Each year, at least 600 women in the United States are shot and killed by an intimate partner—that’s one woman every 16 hours.

So, closing the “boyfriend loophole” sounds perfectly reasonable and certainly something that should be addressed in a bill titled the “Violence Against Women Act.”

Oh, wait…here comes the NRA, threatening to take away points and money from NRA-owned legislators who put the lives of women ahead of guns.

Hey, women are liars! The NRA’s story is that women sometimes lie about abuse against boyfriends, which is partly why they try to block state laws that broaden the definition of a domestic abuser to include dating partners and stalkers, which help to ensure stalkers stay armed.

But we’re happy to sell them guns! The NRA also sees terrified women as a growth market – encouraging women to buy guns to protect themselves against home intruders. Or their current or former intimate partners. Or their husband. The NRA encourages this despite the clear statistics that this is a really bad bet for women. Even if a woman survives, she might be facing charges. Marissa Alexander of Florida was sentenced to 20 years for just firing a warning shot into a wall to scare her abusive husband into leaving.

“Red flag” provisions save lives. The nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety stated that when an individual is considering physically harming someone or themselves, that person’s family and local law authorities are frequently the first people to spot the problem. In such cases, “red flag” laws can help prevent potential violence from happening.

Only 14 states plus Washington D.C., have existing red flag laws, according to Everytown, who  noted that, in general, it’s a “common-sense way” to practically tackle the issue of gun violence, including suicide, in America.

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