Shaheen & Hassan Help Reintroduce Bicameral Legislation to Close Dangerous Loophole to Protect Domestic Violence Survivors

March 17, 2021

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act this week as part of its reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, landmark legislation designed to support and protect survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and a group of Senators in reintroducing strongly-supported legislation to protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence. The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act is narrowly crafted to close loopholes that allow domestic abusers to legally obtain weapons. The bill is named in memory of Lori Jackson, an Oxford, Connecticut mother of two who was tragically shot and killed by her estranged husband, who had legally obtained a handgun even though he was subject to a temporary restraining order.

“Preventing domestic abusers from accessing firearms should not be a controversial concept. It’s a common-sense measure to keep survivors and their families out of harm’s way and make our communities safer,” said Senator Shaheen. “This legislation would help save lives by helping to keep firearms out of the hands of those who wish to do harm. It’s time for Congress to get this done and amend the law to provide survivors with the protection they need and deserve.”

“Allowing domestic abusers to own a lethal weapon threatens a survivor’s life and day-to-day sense of safety,” said Senator Hassan. “The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act closes a dangerous loophole that currently allows abusers to buy and possess a gun. I will continue working with my colleagues to pass commonsense gun safety measures like this one that will help keep our communities safe and prevent more senseless acts of gun violence.”

“It’s hard to imagine what a family goes through when something like this happens,” said Merry Jackson, Lori Jackson’s mother.  “It never goes away, it’s with you forever. But if you could save another family and kids from losing their mom, it would mean the world to me.”

The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act would close dangerous loopholes in federal law, thereby protecting millions of Americans. Current federal law protects domestic violence survivors from gun violence by preventing their abusers from purchasing or possessing a firearm – but only once the court has issued a permanent restraining order. This leaves survivors unprotected exactly when they are in the most danger: when a domestic abuser first learns his or her victim has left and only a temporary restraining order is in place. Further, the current definition of “intimate partner” used to prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence from purchasing or possessing a firearm includes spouses, former spouses, people with a child in common and cohabitants. However, there are many survivors of dating violence who were never married, do not live with their abuser and have no children.

This bill would restrict those under temporary restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm, and would extend protections to domestic violence survivors who have been abused by their dating partners. The bill’s provisions are a component of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, landmark legislation designed to support and protect survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and scheduled to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives this week.

The full text of the Senate legislation can be found here. The legislation is supported by a number of advocacy and support groups, including National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, Brady, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Newtown Action Alliance, Sandy Hook Promise and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV).

Throughout the pandemic, Senators Shaheen and Hassan have worked to provide more resources and services to domestic violence survivors nationwide. The Senators helped lead calls to Congressional leadership to include additional funding to support the victims of family violence, domestic violence and dating violence in COVID-19 response legislation. Earlier this month, Shaheen and Hassan helped introduce legislation with Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) that would close what is referred to as the “boyfriend loophole” to prevent people who have abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms and stop convicted stalkers from possessing guns.

Shaheen is the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) and is a leader in Congress on efforts to combat domestic and sexual violence, and to bolster resources to help survivors stay safe, recover and seek justice. Last year, Senator Shaheen visited the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence (NHCADSV) in Concord where she met with NHCADSV’s leadership and representatives from crisis centers to hear more about the impact COVID-19 has had on survivors and the state’s crisis centers.

Senator Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to establish basic rights and protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Her bill, the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act, was signed into law in 2016 and created the first federally codified rights specifically for sexual assault survivors and for the first time allowed survivors the opportunity to enforce those rights in federal court. Last year, Shaheen introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the States Act to build on the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act by incentivizing states to pass legislation that guarantees the survivors rights included in the federal legislation. For the fourth year in a row, Senator Shaheen – through her leadership on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the OVW – successfully added the highest funding amount ever for Violence Against Women Act programs in the fiscal year (FY) 2021 government funding.

###