WASHINGTON — Republicans involved in bipartisan gun safety talks have sought to overturn lifetime gun bans for some domestic abusers as part of the package.
Before the deal became law on Saturday, federal restrictions prohibited possession of firearms for those convicted of a domestic violence offense against a spouse or intimate partner with whom they lived or shared a child, but no did not include dating partners.
The final compromise bill ended the so-called boyfriend loophole, but it had a catch: After five years, the convicted person can get their gun rights back as long as they avoid to commit another violent crime during this time.
The conditional five-year limit on the abuser gun ban was a key concession by Democrats to win Republican support to close the loophole, a longtime goal of gun safety advocates that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) defended in the negotiations.
Republicans wanted to create a way for spouses and other intimate partners to get their guns back as well. But a source familiar with the negotiations described it as a “no right” for Democrats.
A spokesperson for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) confirmed that Republicans want to make gun rights restoration available to spouses and similarly situated offenders.
“This category currently has a lifetime ban and we have been pushing to change that,” the spokesperson said in an email.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who led the negotiations for Democrats, told HuffPost last week that Republicans have a legitimate desire to allow those convicted of crimes to reclaim their gun rights at fire, because not all states allow misdemeanors. offenders to seek leniency to expunge their criminal records.
But misdemeanor domestic violence convictions for current or former spouses will still result in a lifetime ban on owning a firearm.
“There was just a drive to apply it to this new population,” Murphy said, referring to romantic partners. “That was the nature of compromise.”
Sinema’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Several categories of people are prohibited by federal law from owning firearms, including those who have committed crimes, been deemed “mentally incompetent,” or dishonorably discharged from the military. Gun rights groups debate whether a misdemeanor, as opposed to a felony, should put someone on the “prohibited persons” list.
The National Rifle Association, for example, opposes closing the boyfriend loophole and said the lifetime gun ban for domestic violence offenses unfairly violates Second Amendment rights.
“There are good reasons why rights should not be extinguished for life on the basis of misdemeanor convictions,” said the NRA Institute for Legislative Action wrote in a blog post Last week. “In addition to the law which views tortious conduct less harshly than criminal conduct, tortious defendants do not always benefit from the same level of comprehensive due process as those charged with crimes.”
The group said a misdemeanor domestic violence charge and a lifetime firearms ban can result from “mere contact with the clothing, bag or something that a person is holding in their hand in a totally nonviolent”.
In more than two-thirds of mass shootings from 2014 to 2019, the perpetrator killed family members or an intimate partner, or had a history of domestic violence, according to a paper 2021 published in the Journal of Injury Epidemiology.
The boyfriend loophole provision was an unexpected part of the bipartisan gun deal, which came in the wake of two mass shootings by teenagers in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, which left more than 30 people dead. The core group of negotiators included Murphy, Sinema, Cornyn and Sen. Thom Tillis (RN.C.).
The bill – the most significant gun reform in decades – provides funding for mental health services and expands background checks on teenage gun buyers.
Although Republicans last year blocked bills reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act because it would have closed the boyfriend loophole, few Republicans have publicly advocated for gun rights. for convicted offenders.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Republican National Senate Committee, however, blasted the new gun deal as “soft on crime” because it allows abusive romantic partners to get their weapons back after five years.
“People who have been charged, tried and convicted of beating their loved one would automatically regain their gun rights after just five years,” Scott said. He was not among the 15 Republicans who voted for the bill.
Tillis told HuffPost last week that Scott’s criticism of restoring gun rights puts him at odds with gun rights advocates.
“So I guess his argument is that he would never want those who are permanently banned ever to be considered for restoration, which is obviously against what many gun rights groups are for. “, said Tillis.
Igor Bobic contributed reporting.
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