Politics & Government

Capps introduces bill to protect unmarried women from domestic violence

U.S. Rep. Lois Capps is shown during a debate at The Tribune in September 2012.
U.S. Rep. Lois Capps is shown during a debate at The Tribune in September 2012. Special to The Tribune

A legal distinction between abusive spouses and abusive domestic partners would disappear under legislation being introduced by U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

The act will save lives, its supporters say.

In announcing the Domestic Violence Survivors Protection Act, Capps noted that one-third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner with a firearm. But the abuser is treated differently depending on marital status.

“Our current legal system makes an arbitrary distinction between protections for dating partners and protections for spouses and ex-spouses, creating a loophole in our gun laws and increasing danger for domestic violence victims and survivors,” Capps said. “This is wrong.”

The act would extend federal firearms prohibitions on individuals subject to a domestic violence restraining order to dating partners.

It also would prohibit an individual convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor from purchasing a gun.

It “would ensure that all abused women, whether married or not, are provided the same protections,” Capps said.

“In addition, it would provide greater security for domestic violence survivors by protecting them during the time when they are most at risk, in the minutes, hours and days immediately after leaving a violent partner,” she said.

“An abusive ex-boyfriend with a gun is no less lethal than an abusive ex-husband with a gun,” she continued.

“This is legislation that will save lives,” said Kiersten Stewart, director of public policy for Futures Without Violence. “Guns and domestic violence are a deadly combination, killing thousands of women and children every year.”

The act has received endorsements from the Brady Campaign, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Futures Without Violence.