Dingell sponsors measure noting intersection of misogyny, domestic violence and gun violence for VAWA anniversary

Debbie Dingell at Fortune conference, 2017 | Stuart Isett, Flickr

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).

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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.”

National Rifle Association annual convention in Indianapolis, Ind. | Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour, Flickr

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.”

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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.”

Protesters hold a rally against gun violence in Times Square in response to recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Denton, Ohio on August 4, 2019 in New York City. | Go Nakamura/Getty Images

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.”

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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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