Swalwell Introduces Bill to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence from Guns
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) on Thursday introduced a bill to help protect domestic violence victims from being murdered with guns.
The No Guns for Abusers Act would require the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to report to Congress on the best practices that jurisdictions should use to require anyone charged with or convicted of a domestic violence crime, or subject to a domestic violence protective order, to relinquish all their firearms.
“Every day in America, on average, a woman is killed by an abuser’s gun. That’s appalling,” Swalwell said. “Congress must act to make sure domestic abusers don’t have firearms.”
One academic study found women’s risk of homicide by an abuser increases by a factor of five if the abuser has access to a firearm.
Federal law bars domestic abusers from buying and possessing firearms; this includes those convicted for any felony, convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, or subject to a protective order with respect to an intimate relation or child. Some states have similar laws.
But while background checks can prevent prohibited persons from buying firearms, they do not address weapons those people already have. Some states have tried to address this by creating processes by which all domestic abusers must relinquish their guns, but many have not – notable examples of states without such laws include Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. The federal government also lacks relinquishment policies for domestic abusers convicted at the federal level.
The No Guns for Abusers Act would require the NIJ to make a report to Congress on the best approaches for relinquishment statutes, rules, policies, and practices, with input from academics and stakeholders, including 18 specified aspects of the firearm relinquishment process.
It also would require the NIJ to contract with third parties to study the relative success of different relinquishment programs, and then to use that information to update its initial report. The Attorney General would be authorized to award grants to jurisdictions which already have or adopt programs substantially similar to the best practices identified in the NIJ report. And the bill would require the Attorney General to propose federal legislation and adopt rules, policies, and practices consistent with those best practices.
“We can have responsible gun ownership in America and protect domestic violence victims from abusers,” Swalwell said.
The No Guns for Abusers Act’s original cosponsors include House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Judiciary Committee members Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md., as well as Reps. Anthony Brown, D-Md.; Katherine Clark, D-Mass.; Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass.; Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich.; Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., Grace Napolitano, D-Calif.; Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; Darren Soto, D-Fla.; Dina Titus, D-Nev.; and Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. The bill is supported by Everytown for Gun Safety, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.