The August 17 letter, “Don't close the 'boyfriend loophole,” makes dangerous and incorrect assumptions about domestic violence and ultimately argues that abusive dating partners should have access to firearms. But evidence shows that dating partners are actually more likely to abuse their partners than spouses.
As the letter notes, the Lautenberg Amendment prohibits persons convicted of specific domestic violence crimes from purchasing or possessing firearms. This law, however, does not cover dating partners. We know that firearms play a significant role in intimate partner homicides and we know that current and former dating partners are more likely to be offenders than spouses. It is critically important to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” that allows abusive dating partners to purchase and possess firearms.
Eighty percent of intimate partner violence occurs between non-married individuals and nearly half of all victims of intimate partner homicide are murdered by an abusive boyfriend or girlfriend.
There is, in fact, a multitude of research showing that prohibiting abusive dating partners from having firearms is associated with reductions in intimate partner homicide; states that extended domestic violence restraining order firearm prohibitions to dating partners experienced a 16% reduction in firearm intimate partner homicide.
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The author of the letter is wrong. Intimate partner violence between dating partners is a significant problem, and we must address it. Neglecting to close the boyfriend loophole will continue to result in countless preventable injuries and deaths.
Lisa Geller, MPH
Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence