The National Rifle Association is preparing to punish lawmakers for voting to protect women from their stalkers and domestic abusers. The gun lobby announced this week that it will dock its grades for politicians who vote to renew the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation, first passed in 1994, is up for reauthorization this session — augmented by a provision that could give law enforcement officials the power to confiscate guns from men who hurt or menace women.
NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker told the National Journal that this “red-flag” provision — intended to protect women against gun violence from men who are exhibiting violent or dangerous behaviors — is an unacceptable encroachment on individual gun ownership rights.
“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,” Baker told the publication. She added that the NRA opposes domestic violence — but is focused on adding more guns to such combustible dynamics, seeking to arm women and train them in self defense. (The NRA did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.)
The NRA’s call to vote down the Violence Against Women Act could help some Republicans justify their opposition to the landmark legislation, though it could also wrongfoot some GOP moderates who are now forced to choose between protecting their female constituents and maintaining their A-rating from the fearsome gun lobby, the loss of which can invite a primary challenge.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has framed the vote in stark terms:
Members have a decision to make: will they protect survivors of stalking & domestic abuse? Or are they willing to allow their convicted stalkers & abusers to have access to firearms? #VAWA https://t.co/ZdEn7z86IB
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 27, 2019
The case for stripping domestic abusers of their guns is powerful. An abused woman is five times more likely to be killed if the abuser is a gun-owner. When a domestic violence assault involves a firearm, it is 12 times more likely to end in the death of the victim. Laws like the red-flag provision proposed for VAWA save lives: In states adopting laws permitting confiscation of firearms from domestic abusers, intimate partner homicides have dropped by 7 percent.
“A gun in the house increases the chances that you’ll be killed in a domestic violence incident by an extraordinary ratio,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) told Rolling Stone recently. “The most important mythology that the NRA proffers is that you’re safer if you buy a gun. That’s just not true,” Murphy said. “Having a gun in your house is more likely to get you killed than it is to save your life.”