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Friday, Jul 20, 2018
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Another voice: Women’s lives, cut short

Americans have long struggled to find common ground in the gun debate. But if common ground does exist, it might be found here: in reducing the number of homicides each year that begin with domestic abuse. Congress attempted to address domestic violence involving guns over two decades ago with the Lautenberg Amendment. That law prohibits people from owning or purchasing guns if they have been convicted of assaulting a spouse or child, or if they are under a permanent protective order.

Since it took effect, nearly 195,000 people have been stopped from buying weapons. But hard experience over the last 20 years has revealed dangerous loopholes in the law. Closing them could save hundreds of lives each year.

The Lautenberg Amendment attempted to reduce the chances that violent situations could become deadlier. But it seeks to prevent gun ownership only if two people are married, co-habitating as spouses or if they have a child together. The American family has changed in the last two decades, and many relationships don’t fall under the government’s strict definition.

Besides ignoring that reality, the amendment also fails to apply to anyone convicted of stalking, or those under temporary protective orders. Expanding the law to close these loopholes, collectively referred to as the "boyfriend loophole," could save lives.

Overall, people with a history of domestic violence are five times as likely to murder an intimate partner when a gun is in the house. Among women shot to death by men they knew, 45 percent were killed during an argument.

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