Several Senate Democrats are looking to prevent people from owning or buying a weapon if they are subject to a temporary restraining order from a spouse, former spouse or someone they dated.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced legislation Tuesday along with seven other Democrats that looks to expand on current gun ownership prohibitions on people involved in domestic violence disputes.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), right, has proposed new legislation to restrict gun ownership rights, along with seven other Democrats. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Under current law, people can't buy or own a gun if they are subject to permanent restraining order issued by a court. But Blumenthal says it can take too long before a court issues a permanent order, and says similar gun restrictions should be placed on people subject to temporary orders if there is reason to think they may turn violent.
"When domestic abusers are most dangerous – at the height of their rage – current law is weakest in protecting victims … from gun violence," Blumenthal said. "Closing this gaping loophole will save lives when temporary restraining orders leave domestic abuse victims most vulnerable to violent partners with guns."
The bill would require that people subject to a temporary restraining order must be given notice and "an opportunity to be heard" on the issue before temporarily losing their lost gun ownership rights.
The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Act is named after a Connecticut resident who was killed by her husband after she won a temporary restraining order against him.
But the bill also goes further by expanding the prohibition on gun ownership to dating couples. Blumenthal said that today, gun bans against people subject to a permanent restraining order only apply to spouses, former spouses, cohabitants and people with a child in common.
Under his bill, the gun ban would apply to people who dated and then later pose a threat. Blumenthal says this "dating violence loophole" needs to be closed to ensure protection for a wider group of people.
Blumenthal's bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Democrats have pushed to develop a few new legislative proposals this month, partially in response to the University of California, Santa Barbara incident in which a man stabbed three people to death and killed three others with a gun.
In response, California Democrats proposed legislation that would temporarily restrict people's right to own a gun if family members or others believe they may pose a threat. In the Santa Barbara shooting, Elliot Rodger's parents warned police that their son could pose a danger, but Rodger was only briefly visited by police.