WILMINGTON, Del. – As gun sales spike and reports of domestic violence increase across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and U.S. Representative Jim Himes (D-Conn.) in introducing bicameral legislation to protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence. The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act is narrowly crafted to close loopholes that allow domestic abusers to legally obtain weapons. The bill is named in memory of Lori Jackson, an Oxford, Connecticut mother of two who was tragically shot and killed by her estranged husband, who had legally obtained a handgun even though he was subject to a temporary restraining order.

“I am proud to join Senator Blumenthal on the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act,” said Senator Coons. “The time period after filing a temporary restraining order for protection from an abuser can be an especially dangerous period for a survivor escaping violence.  This bill will take crucial steps to protect victims of violence by restricting those under temporary restraining orders from purchasing a firearm during this period. No abuser should have access to firearms, and no survivor of domestic violence should live with that fear.”

The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act would close dangerous loopholes in federal law, thereby protecting millions of Americans. Current federal law protects domestic violence survivors from gun violence by preventing their abusers from purchasing or possessing a firearm – but only once the court has issued a permanent restraining order. This leaves survivors unprotected exactly when they are in the most danger: when a domestic abuser first learns his or her victim has left and only a temporary restraining order is in place. Further, the current definition of ‘intimate partner’ used to prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence from purchasing or possessing a firearm includes spouses, former spouses, people with a child in common, and cohabitants. However, there are many survivors of dating violence who were never married, do not live with their abuser, and have no children.

This bill would restrict those under temporary restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm and would extend protections to domestic violence survivors who have been abused by their dating partners. This bill’s provisions are a component of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act, landmark legislation designed to support and protect survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, which continues to stall in the Republican-controlled Senate.

In addition to Sens. Coons and Blumenthal, Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) are cosponsoring the bill in the Senate. The full text of the Senate legislation can be found here and the one pager can be found here.

The legislation is supported by a number of advocacy and support groups, including Everytown for Gun Safety, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Newtown Action Alliance, Brady, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV).