As public pressure continues to mount in favor of stricter gun control laws, and while Republicans are becoming increasingly vulnerable to such calls, the National Rifle Association is ramping up its own pressure campaigns. The powerful gun lobby is currently helping Republicans in Congress advocate against the Violence Against Women Act because of provisions that help prevent stalkers and abusers from owning guns.
From the National Journal:
At the request of House Republicans, the group will issue a key vote against the politically dicey Violence Against Women Act over its so-called red-flag provisions, which seek to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the group objects because it believes the legislation could lead to firearm confiscations over misdemeanor domestic violence or stalking convictions.
“The NRA opposes domestic violence and all violent crime, and spends millions of dollars teaching countless Americans how not to be a victim and how to safely use firearms for self-defense,” Baker said. “It is a shame that some in the gun-control community treat the severity of domestic violence so trivially that they are willing to use it as a tool to advance a political agenda.”
The NRA has long argued that gun rights are a women’s rights issue, claiming that women who are armed are better able to protect themselves from harm. This is a deadly and debunked myth, but it persists as a talking point.
The National Journal reports that Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee and other members of the House have asked the NRA to “issue a key-vote alert against Democrats’ VAWA legislation” prior to the vote next week. The idea is that this would also pressure Republicans from voting on the measure because it could result in losing points on their NRA rating, a powerful tool in the NRA’s arsenal come election time.
When reached for comment about VAWA and the NRA’s history of opposing red-flag provisions, the NRA’s media liaison Catherine Mortensen told Jezebel that “permanently losing a fundamental civil right for a misdemeanor conviction is virtually unheard of outside the Second Amendment context, so this bill is a clear attempt to treat the Second Amendment as a second-class right.” She called the bill “a smokescreen for its real goal—banning firearms ownership.”
Mortensen also claimed that the the criminal justice system already has the necessary tools to prevent dangerous people from owning firearms, and that VAWA would be too punitive toward gun owners charged with misdemeanor stalking offenses.
But as the NRA wrings its hands about overstep, the more pressing issue for many victims of stalking and domestic violence are the legal loopholes that often leave them unprotected.
Years before Jarrod Ramos shot and killed five people in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland in 2018, he aggressively stalked a former high school classmate. Ramos pled guilty to criminal harassment, and despite his violent track record was still able to acquire firearms under state law.
Even in states with such laws on the books, firearm confiscation is alarmingly low, so even if the VAWA passes with the red-flag provision in place, it’s only a first step to reduce violence.
Read more at the National Journal here.