The New York Times editorial board called for stronger state and federal gun laws after highlighting “shortcomings” that in many cases allow domestic abusers to acquire a firearm even after being determined to be a threat by a court.
Noting that in 2013 61 percent of women killed by gun violence were killed by former or current intimate partners, The Times explained “people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors against partners with whom they never lived are not prohibited from owning guns under federal law, nor are those convicted of misdemeanor stalking.”
The editorial also noted that current federal law does not require so-called “private sellers” of firearms to run background checks on customers, creating another avenue for domestic abusers to obtain firearms.
From The Times January 16 editorial:
While the gun violence debate often focuses on mass shootings of strangers, hundreds of Americans are fatally shot every year by spouses or partners. In 2013, 61 percent of women killed with guns were killed by husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends. And in 57 percent of shootings in which four or more people were killed, one of the victims was the shooter's partner or family member, according to an analysis by the group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Yet shortcomings in federal and state law allow many domestic abusers to have access to firearms, even after courts have determined that the abusers pose a threat to their partners.
Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of any felony, or of misdemeanor domestic violence against a spouse, from owning a gun. People subject to a domestic violence restraining order issued after a hearing (not a temporary order issued before a hearing can take place) are also prohibited from owning guns. But people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors against partners with whom they never lived are not prohibited from owning guns under federal law, nor are those convicted of misdemeanor stalking. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representatives Debbie Dingell and Robert Dold have introduced bills to close these loopholes, but the bills have gained little traction.
Some states, like California and Connecticut, allow police to confiscate guns from someone who is determined by a court to be a threat to a partner, even if a domestic violence restraining order is not in place.
State and federal lawmakers need to follow the example of states that have closed loopholes and enacted surrender laws to prevent the dangerous from possessing deadly weapons.