Shaheen Helps Introduce Bicameral Bill to Protect Domestic Abuse Survivors from Gun Violence

November 06, 2017

Washington, DC – Last week, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) helped introduce the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act, a bill designed to protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence. The bill will help close loopholes that allow domestic abusers to legally obtain weapons, and strengthen protections for survivors of domestic violence and abuse. According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in July 2017, more than 55% of female homicide victims were killed in connection to violence committed by intimate partners. More than half of all homicides of women involved firearms.

“Violence against women is a serious threat affecting New Hampshire families, and many more in communities across the country,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m proud to cosponsor this bill, which will play an important role in helping to close a dangerous loophole that puts lives at stake. I’ve prioritized efforts to combat domestic and sexual violence against women, and this legislation will build on my work to help to protect survivors. It’s critical that we continue to push for meaningful reform to keep women and their families safe.”

The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act would close dangerous loopholes in federal law, thereby protecting millions of women and men nationwide. 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 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 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 under a temporary restraining order. A companion measure was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Jim Himes (D-CT).

Senator Shaheen has been a leader in the Senate on providing protections and codifying new rights for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. In 2016, President Obama signed Shaheen’s Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act into law, establishing basic rights for survivors of sexual assault. Additionally, as the lead Democrat on the Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee, Senator Shaheen has helped secure critical funding for the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women grants that supports funding for state domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions, rape prevention programs, domestic violence hotlines and women’s shelters and transitional housing support services.