Klobuchar, Dingell, Fitzpatrick Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Strengthen Provisions Closing the Boyfriend Loophole

Press Release

Date: Feb. 10, 2023
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Guns

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced updated bipartisan, bicameral legislation to strengthen provisions closing the "boyfriend loophole.' The Strengthening Protections for Domestic Violence and Stalking Survivors Act prevents convicted stalkers and all former dating partners convicted of a domestic violence offense from buying or owning firearms, regardless of when the relationship occurred. Klobuchar, Dingell and Fitzpatrick's provisions to ensure recent dating partners convicted of domestic violence face the same gun ownership restrictions as similarly situated spouses were signed into law last year as part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

"Last year's Bipartisan Safer Communities Act included provisions from my bill to close the boyfriend loophole, but there is still more we need to do to address gun violence and keep firearms out of the hands of abusive dating partners and convicted stalkers," said Klobuchar. "As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the serious emotional and physical toll stalking takes on victims, especially when guns are involved. By preventing convicted stalkers from purchasing guns, our common sense legislation will protect victims and help save lives."

"A week ago today, the 5th Circuit Court struck down a decades-old law preventing individuals with domestic violence protection orders from possessing firearms. We must be clear: this extreme and dangerous decision puts lives in danger. Equally disturbing, federal law still includes a "boyfriend loophole" that allows abusive dating partners subject to protection orders and convicted stalkers to access firearms," said Dingell. "I know this fear all too well. Growing up, I lived in a house with a man -- my father -- who should not have had access to a gun. I remember the terror my siblings and I felt as we hid from him in the closet and in fear of him using it to hurt my mother. No child, spouse, or partner should have to experience the trauma my family did. I am proud to introduce the Strengthening Protections for Domestic Abuse and Stalking Survivors Act to close this loophole once and for all. The legislation will ensure abusive dating partners subject to protection orders and convicted stalkers cannot get their hands on a firearm. Perpetrators of violence -- including dating partners -- should not be able to access a firearm, and I will not stop fighting until we can deliver on this promise."

"Domestic abusers should never be allowed access to firearms, period," said Fitzpatrick. "The current intimate partner loophole allows violent domestic abusers to purchase firearms, and this bipartisan legislation takes that ability away. I'm proud to work across the aisle on this crucial legislation that stands up for victims."

The Strengthening Protections for Domestic Violence and Stalking Survivors Act would:

Prevent those convicted of certain stalking offenses from purchasing firearms;
Clarify that abusive dating partners subject to certain court orders are treated the same as an abusive spouse;
Update the definition of "dating relationship" for purposes of federal firearm prohibitions to include "individuals who have or have had a continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature," regardless of when the relationship occurred. The law currently requires that the dating relationship is "recent," which could exclude abusers convicted of domestic violence against partners from a prior relationship.