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Feminist News


May-13-97

Feminist Majority Opposes Gutting Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban

Proposed Barr Amendment Would Put Guns Back in Hands of Abusers


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Feminist Majority has joined with Senator Lautenberg, Congresswoman Maloney, and other women's rights and domestic violence advocates in condemning proposed legislation that would gut the 1996 Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, which currently prohibits individuals convicted on misdemeanor domestic violence offenses from owning or using firearms. Representative Barr's proposed amendment would eliminate retroactive application of the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban.

"The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban is a significant step forward in the drive to reduce domestic violence. The Barr amendment would turn the clock back and put guns back in the hands of abusers," stated Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority.

Smeal continued, "The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban is consistent with most previously passed gun control laws which are retroactive in application. Eliminating retroactivity from this law would be tantamount to saying that domestic violence offenders should receive special, more lenient treatment."

"Batterers fall into a category of criminals that are likely to reoffend. Allowing those who already have been convicted of domestic violence to possess guns places the lives of women and children in needless jeopardy. Studies show that firearms in the home dramatically increase the likelihood of homicide committed by a family member."

Opponents of the Domestic Violence Gun Ban also are trying to exempt police officers and the military from the law's coverage, allowing personnel convicted of domestic violence to have guns.

"Police family violence is a horrific problem that threatens the lives of women and children associated with the abusing officer and undercuts legal protection for all domestic violence victims within the officer's jurisdiction. Rather than trying to seek an exemption for police officers and military personnel who are abusers, we should be concerned with why we are recruiting so many abusers for these positions. One half of all 911 calls are related to domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence should expect a sympathetic officer responding to 911 calls, not one who has committed domestic violence himself," Smeal said.

The Feminist Majority played a leading role in passage of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Its sister organization, The Feminist Majority Foundation, sponsors the National Center for Women and Policing, an organization of women police officers committed to improving police response to domestic violence and increasing the representation of women in law enforcement.


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