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Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Gun, Domestic Violence

On July 30, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing, “Violence Against Women Act Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence,” chaired by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The hearing focused on two bills addressing domestic gun violence: the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (S. 1290), sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act (S. 2483), sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, professor and Anna D. Wolf chair, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, stated, “Gun access [is] the strongest risk factor for an abused woman to be killed by her partner or ex-partner.” Dr. Campbell added, “In leaving out abusive dating partners, current federal firearm prohibitions ignore the perpetrators of a large and growing share of intimate partner homicides…S. 1290, the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, would expand our national domestic violence laws to include both former and current dating partners.” She concluded, “Women who suffer abuse are among the most important for society to protect. Congress has an opportunity to do so by strengthening the laws to keep domestic abusers from getting guns.”

Hon. Seamus McCaffery, justice, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, stated, “I understand that an individual’s ability to obtain firearms is, and should be, of great concern in the context of domestic violence. However, I do not believe that additional legislation making it illegal for more categories of individuals to ‘possess’ a firearm would necessarily contribute to increased deterrence for those individuals who will simply continue to do what they already do: obtain a firearm ‘off the street.’ I do not believe that prohibiting ‘ownership and/or possession’ of a firearm is the way to find an effective solution to the problem of domestic violence. As mentioned, individuals who possess ‘unlawful’ firearms are unlikely to be deterred by these expanded laws.”

The following witnesses also testified:

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