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What is the “boyfriend loophole?”

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2020 | Criminal Law |

In 2019, the house reauthorized a law from over 20 years ago intended to help protect victims of sexual and domestic violence. However, this particular law draws a lot of negative attention from Second Amendment enthusiasts because it would further restrict gun ownership for certain groups of Americans.

The bill was to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act with the intent of closing the long-time “boyfriend loophole.” According to the Associated Press, the boyfriend loophole allows persons convicted of domestic violence as stalkers or dating partners to own guns under current federal law.

How is this different from the current law? 

There are current federal laws prohibiting certain classes of individuals with domestic violence convictions from owning firearms. Currently, those rules only apply to individuals who were currently or formerly married to the victim, had a child with the victim, lived with the victim or were the parent or guardian of a victim.

This means that if the courts convicted a person of domestic violence but that person was only dating or stalking the victim, that person can still legally own a gun.  

What does this mean for gun rights? 

The bill has only passed the House of Representatives and not the Senate as of yet. This means that there is no current change to US federal law regarding owning a gun and domestic violence convictions.

It is currently unknown what will happen in the US Senate with this law. However, it is important for both gun rights advocates and gun control advocates to pay attention to the evolution of this law.