Swalwell Re-Introduces Bill to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence From Guns

February 15, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) has re-introduced a bill to help protect domestic violence victims from being murdered with guns.

H.R. 1287, 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.

“With a woman killed every day, on average, by an abuser’s gun, it’s common sense that we do more to make sure domestic abusers don’t have firearms,” Swalwell said. “Developing best practices to seize guns from abusers means better enforcement of the laws we already have, and that leads to saving lives.”

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.

The bill’s re-introduction follows the House Judiciary Committee’s approval Wednesday of H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 – the most significant House legislation on gun violence in decades – and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, to close a loophole that contributed to the hate-crime murder of nine people in 2015 at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. It also coincides with the introduction of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019.

“One year after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, the House is moving firmly forward with reasonable and crucial legislation on gun violence, including the No Guns for Abusers Act,” Swalwell said. “These reasonable regulations will save thousands of American lives – and the right to come home alive every day is the most important right of all. The progress starts now.”

The No Guns for Abusers Act’s 22 original cosponsors include House Judiciary Committee members Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Madeline Dean, D-Pa., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md., as well as Reps. Gil Cisneros, D-Calif.; Katherine Clark, D-Mass.; Yvette Clark, D-N.Y.; Charlie Crist, D-Fla.; Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y.; Debra Haaland, D-N.M.; Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.; Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass.; Ro Khanna, D-Calif.; Jerry McNerney, D-Calif.; Grace Meng, D-N.Y.; Grace Napolitano, D-Calif.; Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif.; Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.; Darren Soto, D-Fla.; Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y.; and Frederica Wilson, D-Fla. The bill is supported by Everytown for Gun Safety and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Click here to read the full text of the bill.