It’s been 25 years since Congress passed the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) but the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate still hasn’t reauthorized it.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), a longtime champion of VAWA, has joined with two other congresswomen introduced a resolution noting the interplay between misogyny, violence against women and gun violence.
Sept. 13 marked the anniversary of the act, which expired in February. The U.S. House in April passed VAWA legislation to reauthorize the 1994 legislation that funds programs like rape crisis centers, shelters and legal services to victims of domestic abuse. House Democrats were joined by 33 Republicans in approving the measure, including U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph).
Dingell has frequently spoken about her personal experience in advocating for VAWA.
“When I was a child, I remember the fear, the seeking help and no one responding because you didn’t acknowledge the problem or accept the reality of what happened behind closed doors,” she said on the 25th anniversary. “Much has changed since those days and the passage of VAWA in 1994. We have broken down stigmas and more survivors are coming out of the shadows escaping abusive situations and seeking the support they need. Protecting and expanding this has been a priority for me since coming to Congress.”
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), however, hasn’t taken up the bill. The powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) opposes Dingell’s provision that makes it easier to keep guns from those convicted of domestic abuse or stalking.
Presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) held an event with Dingell in Ann Arbor in May on VAWA. The pair visited a safe house for domestic violence survivors and Klobuchar talked about the importance of closing “the boyfriend loophole that allows domestic abusers to get guns.”
Klobuchar had harsh words for McConnell and said he “somehow decided to take the side of the NRA, which isn’t on the side of women’s safety, so that is what we’re up against.”
Last week, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a gun violence survivor and co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, along Dingell and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.) introduced a resolution recognizing the intersection between misogyny, violence against women and gun violence.
The congresswomen noted the mass shooting last month in Dayton, Ohio, and said it “demonstrated many mass shooters exhibit violent or misogynistic tendencies toward women long before they use a gun to lay waste to human life.”
The resolution says that policy interventions must address the connection between violence against women and gun violence and calls on the U.S. Senate to immediately consider H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, H.R. 1112, the Background Checks Enhancement Act, and H.R. 1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.
“People with a history of domestic violence shouldn’t have access to guns — period,” Dingell said. “The evidence is clear and convincing. The Senate must take action on the House-passed updates to VAWA — including my provisions to close loopholes that allow stalkers and abusive boyfriends to access guns.”