The House of Representatives approved a bill renewing the Violence Against Women Act with new provisions that restrict gun ownership by domestic abusers and expand transgender rights Thursday.
The bill passed 263-158, with all but one Democrat voting to approve the measure while 33 Republicans split from the vast majority of the party who voted against the bill.
The bill faced opposition from the National Rifle Association, which opposed the measure that bars those convicted of domestic abuse or stalking from owning a firearm.
“House Republicans broadly object to at least four new policies added to the bill to reauthorize VAWA — which expired in February when Democrats objected to GOP efforts to include a short-term extension of the law in a spending deal,” NPR reported. “But the most controversial are new provisions to lower the criminal threshold to bar someone from buying a gun to include misdemeanor convictions of domestic abuse or stalking charges. Current law applies to felony convictions.”
The bill would close the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” which expands gun ownership restrictions to dating partners who have been convicted of domestic abuse or stalking.
"Sometimes things are as simple as this: If we are doing a Violence Against Women Act and we are trying to save lives, why would you not close a simple loophole that says if someone has been convicted — convicted, not accused — convicted of domestic violence, that they not have access to a gun," Michigan Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell told NPR.
NRA demands “no” vote as bill heads to Senate:
The NRA called on the Republicans to vote against the bill and warned that it would be “scoring” how representatives voted on the bill as part of their future ratings and endorsements.
"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 spokeswoman Jennifer Baker told NPR.
While the bill cleared the Democratic-led House with ease, it’s unclear if the bill will advance in the Republican-led Senate.
“But while 33 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote in favor of VAWA, the GOP-controlled Senate is likely to shoot it down,” Mother Jones reported. “That body hopes to pass what they call a ‘clean’ version of the bill, which extends the funding, but excludes the Democratic add ons. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) are currently working on their own bipartisan version of the reauthorization, though no information about the inclusion of the House provisions is yet known.”
Some Republicans stood up to the NRA:
In a rare move by a party beholden to the gun rights group, nearly three dozen Republicans voted with Democrats to back the bill.
"I understand for some of my colleagues that may be controversial. For me, it's not," Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick told NPR. "I tell my colleagues all the time, I think the biggest threat to the Second Amendment is when you allow all of these gun crimes to occur unaddressed, because that erodes people's confidence and trust in people that are legitimately trying to protect themselves and their families and their homes."