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Washington–Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Representative Jim Himes (D-Conn.) led their Congressional colleagues in introducing strongly-supported bicameral legislation to protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence. The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act is narrowly crafted to close loopholes that allow domestic abusers to legally obtain weapons. 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 even though he was subject to a temporary restraining order. The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up the legislation this week as part of its reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

“Giving domestic abusers access to guns is a deadly combination,” said Feinstein. “A woman is 500 percent more likely to be killed if a gun is present during a domestic violence situation. With the surge in domestic violence during the pandemic, it’s past time to close this loophole and prevent abusers under temporary restraining orders from legally possessing guns.” 

“Strengthening protective orders to keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers will save lives – and could have saved Lori Jackson’s,” said Blumenthal. “When a gun is available, domestic violence is five times more likely to turn deadly for women. Congress must close this dangerous loophole for the sake of domestic violence survivors and end the senseless cycle of gun violence.” 

“Passing the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act into law will save lives,” said Himes. “Lori’s death might have been prevented. Women who are the victims of intimate partner violence need laws that keep guns out of the hands of their abusers, or we will see this kind of tragedy repeated over and over. The bill we’re introducing today expands protections in a way that puts domestic abuse victims’ safety first and will mean fewer guns in the hands of dangerous abusers.” 

“It’s hard to imagine what a family goes through when something like this happens,” said Merry Jackson, Lori Jackson’s mother.  “It never goes away, it’s with you forever. But if you could save another family and kids from losing their mom, it would mean the world to me.” 

The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act would close dangerous loopholes in federal law, thereby protecting millions of Americans. 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 exactly 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’s provisions are a component of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, landmark legislation designed to support and protect survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and scheduled to be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives this week. 

In addition to Feinstein and Blumenthal, the legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) is cosponsoring the House version of this legislation. 

The full text of the Senate legislation can be found here.

The legislation is supported by a number of advocacy and support groups, including National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, Brady, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Newtown Action Alliance, Sandy Hook Promise and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV).