Boyfriend Loophole Closed

PUBLISHED: 11:38 PM 6 Mar 2018

“Boyfriend Loophole” Closed After Governor Signs New Gun Bill

The measure earned bipartisan support

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill Monday that closes the "boyfriend loophole." Domestic abusers who attack their unmarried partners will no longer be allowed to own a gun.

Gun control advocates rejoiced this week after Oregon became the first state to enact a fresh gun control bill since the Parkland, Florida high school shooting. The measure, signed into law Monday by  Gov. Kate Brown, closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole.” Critics fear that it’s that the start of a slippery slope toward taking people’s guns away or more gun control.

Under federal law, people convicted of domestic offenses are prohibited from owning a gun. However, activists pointed out long ago that there’s a problem with the law as it’s written. Only abusers who are married to or living with their victim are subject to the consequences. Criminally abusive boyfriends and lovers are still allowed to be gun owners.

“I’m proud to sign this bill, making Oregon the first state to take action to prevent senseless gun violence since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida,” Gov. Brown said in a statement.

“Today marks an important milestone, but we know we have more to do. It’s long past time we hold the White House and Congress accountable. Now’s the time to enact real change and federal gun safety legislation.”

Activists have been calling for a law to close the boyfriend loophole for years. People fighting for the measure in states outside of Oregon can glean encouragement from Gov. Brown’s actions.

“With this loophole on the books, it’s no wonder that women in America are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed by a gun than women in other high-income countries,” Rep. Debbie Dingell said.

People are clamoring for change after the Parkland shooting. The past few years have been rough, there has been a spate of high-profile mass shootings. People have been worried for awhile, they became fed up after the Parkland tragedy.

Only liberals think an assault rifle ban is a good idea, but other gun control measures now have bipartisan support.

“Under the federal law, I could be the victim of domestic violence and go for a domestic violence restraining order and get one. And if it were my husband that I was getting the restraining order against, he would have a firearm restriction on him,” April Zeoli, an associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University, said.

“Now, I could have the exact same circumstances of domestic violence and go to get a domestic violence restraining order and get one, but if it is my boyfriend, that I never lived with, married, or had a child with, he would not have a firearm restriction on him.”

Critics fear that Oregon law will just be the first step. Most people agree that violent domestic abusers shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun. But where does it end? Once the government begins interpreting who are allowed to own a gun, there’s no telling how far it will go.

Zeoli admits that she’s in favor of more aggressive gun control measures.

“Research suggests that these domestic violence firearm restrictions, when they are in place at the state level, are associated with a reduction in intimate partner homicides,” She said.  

“And multiple studies have found that—four studies have found that. So it looks like this domestic violence restraining order firearm restriction may save lives. If we apply it to more people, then again, these are groups that we know commit intimate partner homicide, then we might save more lives.”

America’s attention is focused on gun control. The student survivors of the Parkland shooting are still in the spotlight, and they’re using the media’s focus on them to highlight the problems associated with gun control. Their message is resonating in a way that previous anti-gun messages have not.

Closing the boyfriend loophole is a gun a control policy that most Americans support.

“This is important,” Zeoli said, “because recently, it looks like just under half of intimate partner homicides are committed by dating partners. So by not putting this firearm restriction on dating partners, we are missing a population that we know commits domestic violence and we know commits fatal domestic violence.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is a wildly liberal politician that has been criticized for a lot of her actions, but she’s being praised for closing the boyfriend loophole. Some people even wish that she had gone further.

“Right now in about half the states, if you’re a domestic abuser you can’t buy more guns, but no one is taking away the ones that you have, so we’re also putting teeth in the laws that allow police to insist that convicted abusers relinquish the guns they already own,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said.

Gun control in America is subject that’s fraught with tension. Gun owners have been called on to defend themselves when the right to bear arms was established by the Constitution long ago.