Since 1996, federal law has largely prohibited people with domestic abuse misdemeanors from accessing guns. Oregon closed a gap in the federal statute by expanding the definition of domestic partner to “intimate partner.” Gun advocates say the new law can be abused, allowing ex-partners easily to make false allegations and force gun owners to prove their innocence.
While any major gun control is stalled in Congress, as thousands prepare for the March for Our Lives rally for gun control on Saturday, Oregon has passed a law making it more difficult for people with domestic violence convictions to purchase or even possess a firearm, The Guardian reports. Since 1996, federal law has largely prohibited people with domestic abuse misdemeanors from accessing guns. Oregon closed a gap in the federal statute by expanding the definition of domestic partner to “intimate partner.” Under the new state law, someone who is convicted of a domestic abuse misdemeanor but who only dated their victim, never lived with them, and never had children together cannot buy or own a gun.
“A lot of people who commit domestic violence are dating partners, they’re not in relationships that are recognized under federal law as domestic relationships, and therefore those abusers are not prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms,” said Allison Anderman of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “It’s left up to the state to close that loophole.” Known as the “boyfriend loophole” the gun ban extends to those under a restraining order, or convicted of stalking. It’s a big step to protect single women, its supporters say. For gun advocates, however, the new law is a point of contention and confusion. Gun store owner Raye Gunter says, “If you get somebody who’s upset with their former partner, they can say anything they want and that person’s going to have to prove their innocence with no due process.”