November 13, 2017

Senator Hassan Cosponsors Bipartisan Bill To Permanently Close Gun Loophole Exploited By Texas Shooter


Senator Also Cosponsors Two Bills to Protect Domestic Abuse Survivors from Gun Violence


WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan announced today that she cosponsored the bipartisan Domestic Violence Loophole Closure Act to close the background check loophole exploited by the Sutherland Springs, Texas shooter, helping ensure that any individual convicted of domestic violence – whether it is in criminal or military court – are prevented from purchasing firearms.

Senator Hassan also cosponsored two bills designed to protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence. The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act and the Domestic Violence Gun Homicide Prevention Act are narrowly crafted measures that will, respectively, close loopholes that allow domestic abusers to legally obtain weapons, and incentivize states to strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence and abuse.

“In the wake of the horrific shooting in Sutherland, we must finally take action to address to the plague of gun violence in the United States,” Senator Hassan said. “Closing loopholes that allow domestic abusers to purchase firearms is a practical step we can take to protect survivors of domestic violence, as well as the general public. We must take critical steps to encourage states to increase protections for domestic violence survivors, just as we have done in New Hampshire, and I urge my colleagues to support these commonsense protections.”

Then-Governor Hassan signed Joshua’s Law into effect in 2014, which established the specific crime of domestic violence in New Hampshire, helping law enforcement and prosecutors better identify and stop repeat abusers, while providing survivors with access to protections as early as possible.

Domestic Violence Loophole Closure Act: Currently, the Uniform Code of Military Justice does not have a specific charge of domestic violence, instead charging such cases as general assault. This can complicate the enforcement of the domestic-violence ban on gun purchases, as happened with the shooter responsible for the deaths of 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas, whose crime of domestic violence did not disqualify him from purchasing a firearm. This bill permanently clarifies the ambiguity in 1996 Lautenberg amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968 as it applies to the military, and requires the military to report misdemeanors of domestic violence to the NICS database to be used in background checks for all legal gun purchases.

The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act would close dangerous loopholes in federal law, thereby protecting millions of women and men nationwide. Current federal law protects domestic violence survivors from gun violence by preventing their abusers from purchasing or possessing a firearm – but only once the court has issued a permanent restraining order. This leaves survivors unprotected exactly when they are in the most danger: when a domestic abuser first learns his or her victim has left and only a temporary restraining order is in place. Further, the current definition of ‘intimate partner’ used to prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence from purchasing or possessing a firearm includes spouses, former spouses, people with a child in common, and cohabitants. However, there are many survivors of dating violence who were never married, do not live with their abuser, and have no children. This bill would restrict those under temporary restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm, and would extend protections to domestic violence survivors who have been abused by their dating partners. 

The Domestic Violence Gun Homicide Prevention Act will incentivize states to continue to strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence and abuse who are at risk of gun violence. The act authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to make grants to states under the existing Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Grants) mechanism. States may use funds they are awarded to assist law enforcement agencies or courts that seek to keep firearms out of the hands of people who are legally prohibited from having them, or, in adjudicating or responding to domestic violence situations, to remove guns from situations in which there is probable cause to believe they will be used for domestic violence, harassment, or threats.