For Release: Monday, May 12, 1997
Measure That Would Gut 1996 Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban Expected to be Offered as Amendment to Fiscal 1997 Supplemental Appropriations Bill
Barr Amendment Would Put Guns Back into the Hands of Thousands of Abusers
Representative Bob Barr (R-GA) is expected this week to try to amend the 1997 supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 1469) with language that would gut the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban passed by Congress last year. The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban prohibits individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and child abuse crimes from buying or possessing firearms. The law was sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and then-Representative Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) and was signed into law by President Clinton last fall. Representative Barr’s amendment could arm thousands of convicted abusers by narrowing the law so that it applies only to those batterers and child abusers convicted after the date of the law’s passage: September 30, 1996. Under the Barr measure, any wife beater or child abuser convicted prior to that dateï¿½and who is now forbidden to purchase or possess a firearm could once again legally own or buy a gun. The House Rules Committee will decide tomorrow whether Representative Barr’s amendment will be considered during House floor consideration of the supplemental spending legislation. The Rules Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, May 13 at 2:00 PM in Room H-313 of the Capitol. The appropriations bill may come up for a House floor vote as early as Wednesday. The Senate has already passed its version of the supplemental spending bill (S. 672).
Violence Policy Center Health Policy Analyst Sue Glick states, “The gun lobby has been searching for a back-door way to put guns back into the hands of convicted wife beaters and child abusers and have set their sights on the supplemental appropriations bill, a `must pass’ piece of legislation. Congress should reject this and any attempt to weaken the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban.”
Research consistently reveals that a gun in the home is a key contributor to the escalation of nonfatal spouse abuse to homicide. A 1992 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that domestic assaults involving firearms are 12 times more likely to result in death than domestic assaults involving knives, physical force, or any other means.
The Barr amendment would allow thousands of abusers with convictions prior to September 30, 1996 access to the most lethal weapons. According to the National Center for State Courts, of 32 states reporting, there were nearly 600,000 domestic violence filings in 1995 alone. Between 1993 and 1995, 18 of the 32 states reported an increase of 20 percent or more in domestic violence filings. And while the number of case filings has risen partially as a result of changes in statutory definitions of domestic violence as well as police arrest policies, arrest and conviction of a batterer does not ensure protection from future violence.