House Passes Ground Breaking Bill To Protect Victims Of Sexual And Domestic Violence
Now it's up to the Senate to do their part.
April 04, 2019 at 11:38 pm
Updated (April 4, 2019): In a rare bipartisan effort, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1585 with a 263-158 vote. The legislation reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act of 1995 and will now be brought to the Senate.
“The House VAWA reauthorization bill protects all survivors of domestic and sexual violence, enhances housing and economic protections and invests in preventative measures that move us closer to a future free from gender-based violence,” said Kim Gandy, President, and CEO of the National Network To Prevent Domestic Violence. “We now urge the Senate to center the needs of survivors and quickly pass this bill, which expands access to safety and justice for all survivors.”
Additional provisions placed into the bill before this reauthorization, which allow for guns to be confiscated from individuals with stalking and domestic abuse violations, incurred opposition from the NRA.
“Back in the day, the NRA might have succeeded in pushing lawmakers to put gun lobby priorities ahead of the safety of American women — but those days are ending,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Thanks to Representatives Bass and Fitzpatrick for leading this bipartisan push to make it harder for abusers to get armed, and easier for law enforcement to protect victims.”
A date for a vote on the newly reauthorized bill in the Senate has not yet been set.
The National Rifle Association is currently fighting to block the reauthorization of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which expired in February. Set for a vote in the House this week, a new provision to the bill would allow law enforcement to strip domestic abusers of their guns.
“How it’s written right now, you could be convicted for a misdemeanor stalking offense for a tweet that causes someone emotional distress and then you would be prohibited from owning a firearm,” NRA spokeswoman, Jennifer Baker, said of the bill to the New York Times.
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 makes critical updates to modernize this law and protect victims of domestic violence. Here are my remarks on the House floor. #VAWA pic.twitter.com/HXDs9b4Ibw— Eleanor Holmes Norton (@EleanorNorton) April 3, 2019
However many experts and lawmakers are discounting arguments made by the gun rights group on the issue.
“The No. 1 way that women are being killed with guns is by their beloveds, their boyfriends, their significant others,” said Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA). “I am not paying attention to the rhetoric of the NRA because I can’t be distracted.”
Those numbers become even starker when broken down by race. The number of Black women killed by an intimate acquaintance or their husband was double that of white women in the same circumstance, according to a 2015 analysis of homicide data by the Violence Policy Center.
The author of the provision, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), has said that those who stand against the NRA on this vote should “take the outrage of the NRA and wear it proudly.”
“I am not someone who wants to take people’s guns away,” she added, “I have lived with a man that was an N.R.A. board member and with a man that shouldn’t have had a gun. And I want to stand up for both sides.”
Dingell has gathered support from fellow lawmakers, including Rep. Ayanna Pressley who tweeted that she was also a victim of sexual violence and vowed to get justice for "those who have suffered in silence for far too long."
Back in October, when the bill was originally scheduled to expire, activist marched in support of reauthorization in New York.
As a survivor of sexual violence, my position has always been clear - ensuring justice for survivors who have suffered in silence for far too long. I'm proud to support the Violence Against Women Act (#VAWA) - transformative legislation that ensures safety, services & justice. pic.twitter.com/NJv4N2xN79— Rep Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) April 3, 2019
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