Bucking the National Rifle Association, the House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming margin Thursday to reauthorize an expanded version of the Violence Against Women Act — including provisions to disarm domestic abusers and stalkers. The vote total was 263-158, with nearly three dozen Republicans backing the measure.
In recent days, the NRA announced its intention to block this version of VAWA, with the gun lobby vowing to lower its letter grades for politicians who voted for the bill and its expanded gun-safety provisions.
“It is a shame that some in the gun-control community treat the severity of domestic violence so trivially that they are willing to use it as a tool to advance a political agenda,” NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker said, adding that the gun group, which has received millions in funding from the firearms industry, was focused on arming and training the potential victims of abuse instead.
The case for expanding the gun provisions of VAWA is backed by striking statistics: Victims of domestic abuse are five times more likely to be killed if their partner is a gun-owner. And states that have moved to confiscate guns from domestic abusers have seen intimate partner homicides drop by 7 percent.
The Violence Against Women Act was first passed as part of the 1994 crime bill, introduced by then- Sen. Joe Biden, and must periodically be renewed. Once non-controversial, VAWA votes a have become fraught with partisanship.
The House vote was praised by leaders of the gun safety movement. The renewal of VAWA now heads to the Republican controlled Senate, where its prospects for passage are uncertain.
We didn’t elect @NRA lobbyists to write our gun laws or to protect marginalized and vulnerable women. We elected Congress to do that, and thanks to the most diverse class of representatives in our nation's history, they did. Now it’s the Senate’s turn. And we’re watching. pic.twitter.com/IUD4y0xEtE
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) April 4, 2019