People who threaten others with violence should not be allowed to own firearms.
We’re happy to debate that one all day long.
The conversation over gun ownership has made some progress in recent years, with many states — such as New York — passing legislation that allows for a process to take firearms away from those who are mentally unstable.
The new law in New York allows law enforcement officials, family members or school officials to petition a judge to seize the guns of people who are dangerous to themselves or others.(tncms-inline)89e15184-332a-4431-8f21-3ff23f51b71e(/tncms-inline)
This week, the House of Representatives is expected to take up reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act that was originally passed in 1994.
Under the current federal law, anyone convicted of domestic abuse can lose their guns if they were married to the victim, lived with the victim, had a child with the victim or are a parent or guardian of the victim.
What the law does not address is the so called “boyfriend loophole.”
The law proposed by House Democrats, which not surprisingly is opposed by the National Rifle Association, closes that loophole by extending the protections to include stalkers and current or former boyfriends or dating partners.
Earlier this year, Rep. Elise Stefanik proposed reauthorizing the previous bill without addressing the “boyfriend loophole.”
That is short-sighted and we don’t understand why it should not be included.
The NRA argues that many stalking offenses are often not threatening or violent.
We’re not buying that.
A single message on social media or one incident rarely will get you convicted of stalking. Usually, there is an ongoing pattern of harassment.
One thing we know from experience is that when it comes to violent crime in our neighborhoods, it is almost always between couples. Consider some of our recent history:
- A Hudson Falls man killed his live-in girlfriend by setting a fire in their apartment in 2017.
- A Hadley man beat his wife to death in May 2017.
- A Bolton man shot and killed his wife and himself in November 2015.
- A Lake Luzerne man stabbed his estranged wife to death in 2013.
- A Lake George man shot and killed his estranged wife and himself in 2011.
- A Glens Falls man shot and killed his wife at a convenience store in 2006.
- A Granville man killed his girlfriend and himself in 2006.
Sadly, that is just a sampling.
Experts at the Centers for Disease Control say that roughly half of female homicide victims are killed by “intimate partners,” which includes spouses and dating partners.
The statistics also show that domestic abusers with guns inflict a disproportionate amount of violence on their partners. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.
And the share of homicides committed by dating partners has been increasing for three decades. Just as many people are now being killed by a dating partner as a spouse.
The NRA has decided to hold our elected representatives’ feet to fire and “score” the vote on the bill. That means the NRA will use it against any legislator who does not vote the way they want.
We reached out to Rep. Elise Stefanik’s communication director on Wednesday morning, asking where she stood on the bill and how she would vote. She wrote that Rep. Stefanik believed the Democrats’ bill would not pass in the Senate and favored the previous bill.
That is pragmatic, for sure.
But in this case, we believe improving the bill with this simple adjustment is more important.