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Senate, Choose: Guns or Women's Safety

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

Now it's up to the United States Senate to decide where their priorities are: supporting the National Rifle Association and the powerful lobbying organization's paranoia over any restriction on guns or helping to protect women from domestic abuse, violence and even death.

The House of Representatives last week made that choice when it passed a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 263-158, with 33 Republicans joining all but one Democrat in passing it. They did so despite threats from the NRA, warning lawmakers their vote would be counted in the sacrosanct NRA voter profile and ratings that many trot out during their campaigns to show their support for the Second Amendment.

Republicans opposed the bill for a number of reasons, including protections for transgender people in prisons and a provision that would prohibit those convicted of domestic abuse, assault or stalking from buying or owning a firearm. They claimed that would infringe upon Second Amendment rights.

Current law already prohibits spouses or former spouses convicted of abuse from purchasing firearms, but a new amendment would close the so-called "boyfriend loophole," adding unmarried partners to the language.

Guess if you get beat up by your boyfriend it's OK. How does it hurt any less than if it was your husband? Or how are you any less dead?

""The gun control lobby and anti-gun politicians are intentionally politicizing the Violence Against Women Act as a smokescreen to push their gun control agenda," NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker told the Associated Press.

“I am deeply disappointed that some Republican Members of this House are using the NRA as cover to vote against this reauthorization, which has been overwhelmingly in a bipartisan fashion reauthorized over and over again," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D.-Md. "These are commonsense protections that prevent domestic abusers from obtaining the guns that have sadly been used so frequently to harm or kill their partners.”

Republican lawmakers like Georgia's Rep. Doug Collins, ranking GOP member of the House Judiciary Committee, disagreed. Collins said he supports VAWA, but that Democrats "have sought at every turn to make this bill into a political weapon, rather than a critical resource for victims and tools to support law enforcement."

Dead in the Senate?

Congressional insiders speculate that the House bill's gun control provision means it is most likely dead in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans. So, a bipartisan effort is underway to craft a version that can avoid the contentious debate over guns.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, are working on their own version that may stand a chance of passage in the upper chamber.

"I have had discussions with Ranking Member Feinstein of the importance of the Violence Against Women Act, and the need to get this vital piece of legislation reauthorized. This committee has an important responsibility to ensure reauthorizing legislation moves forward in the Senate, and both myself and Ranking Member Feinstein look forward to creating a bipartisan bill that will not only reauthorize but modernize VAWA in order to provide protections that best fit the needs of our victims and our communities," Ernst said in a recent Judiciary Committee business meeting,

At this writing, it is unknown just how the Senate bill will differ from the version passed by the House.

We'll see who wields the power in the Senate, right? Don't bet against the NRA.

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