Victims of domestic abuse urge Senate to renew VAWA with new previsions

Steve Tawa
April 26, 2019 - 3:48 pm

Steve Tawa/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Local domestic violence survivors and advocates gathered on the University of Pennsylvania campus to highlight the importance of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

Currently, VAWA is in the U.S. Senate, where it faces opposition among National Rifle Association supported politicians. The measure did pass the House.  

Christina Vega, an abuse survivor, is well aware of a key provision that would close the so-called "boyfriend loophole" to restrict gun ownership.

"Eighty percent of the people who do get abused are not always a spouse,” Vega said. “Most times, they are boyfriends. That was what happened in my case, my boyfriend had a gun, and that was one of the reasons that I never left, because I was always threatened 'I'll kill your father, I'll kill you families.'"

Vega founded the group Love Shouldn't Hurt, after a girlfriend was killed by her husband, who had a gun.

“We both went through the exact same issue, that's how he kept me in the home, with fear, with the gun,” she explained.

Reporter: “So to victims, whether it's the husband, boyfriend, former boyfriend, or date...”

“Yes. Everyone should fall under the same aspect of the law, not just whether you're a spouse, or not,” she said.

Current law already bars spouses or former spouses convicted of abuse from buying guns, but the "boyfriend loophole" is an amendment that would expand existing gun prohibitions to include dating partners convicted of abuse or stalking charges.

The NRA opposes the bill, and the powerful gun lobby says it will "score" how politicians vote on the bill to measure future ratings and endorsements in elections.

'To any male NRA member, what if this was your daughter,” asked Sen. Bob Casey. “Would you want a boyfriend loophole? Answer that one, and come back and we'll talk.”

Among the points the NRA raised, the new provisions are too low of a threshold to deny someone a constitutional right to keep and bear arms.