What Is The Boyfriend Loophole? Domestic Abusers Aren't Totally Barred From Buying Guns

Ad failed to load

In the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting, the debate over gun control has once again come to dominate national headlines and social media networks. As student activists continue to bring the issue of school shootings into the spotlight, gun control advocates are hoping to broaden the conversation to additional reform measures that could save a number of lives each year, including doubling down on details like the dangerous "boyfriend loophole." But what is the "boyfriend loophole?" While you might not have heard of it, it's a little-known legal loophole that can give physically abusive ex-boyfriends and convicted stalkers access to guns.

Most people agree that the aim of federal background checks is to prevent dangerous people from being able to buy a firearm. Under the Lautenberg Amendment, a person convicted of certain domestic violence crimes is prohibited from buying or owning a gun. However, there's a major loophole in the law that, according to gun control advocates, is putting domestic abuse survivors at serious risk.

That loophole is known as the "boyfriend loophole." It refers to the fact that the Lautenberg Amendment only keeps guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers who are currently — or were at one time — married to their victim, live with their victim, have a child with their victim, or are a parent or guardian of their victim. That means stalkers and current or former boyfriends or dating partners can still buy and own a gun, even if they've been convicted of a domestic violence crime.

Ad failed to load

While the "boyfriend loophole" can affect both genders, it's particularly troubling for women. An overwhelming 93 percent of the women murdered by men in 2015 were killed by a man they knew, according to a recent study conducted by the Violence Policy Center.

The most common weapon used? A gun.

Ad failed to load

While the Lautenberg Amendment is a good first step, research has shown spouses aren't the only ones behind the intimate homicides committed against women. A 2014 study on from the gun control advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety found 48.6 percent of the intimate homicides committed against women were committed by a dating partner compared to the 46.7 percent committed by a spouse.

Moreover, research shows guns are not only prominent components in the homicide of women at the hand of an intimate partner but that they also factor heavily into incidents of nonfatal abuse and violence. A study published in 2016, for example, found "about 4.5 million [women] have had an intimate partner threaten them with a gun and nearly 1 million have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner."

According to Rep. Debbie Dingell, the boyfriend loophole doesn't just put survivors of domestic violence at risk, it puts everyone at risk. "Many mass shooters abuse their partners," Dingell wrote in a recent op-ed for Teen Vogue. "Everytown’s analysis of mass shootings from 2009 to 2016 shows that 54 percent of mass shootings were related to domestic or family violence." Dingell is hoping to close the boyfriend loophole at the federal level with her bill, the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act.

Ad failed to load

And Dingell isn't the only lawmaker pushing to draw the boyfriend loophole to a close. State legislators in Oregon passed a law last week barring anyone convicted of a misdemeanor stalking crime or who have been convicted of a domestic violence crime against someone they are not married to from buying or owning firearms or ammunition.

Dingell argues it's time to get serious about implementing gun control reforms that will protect women and domestic abuse survivors. "With this loophole on the books, it's no wonder that women in America are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed by a gun than women in other high-income countries," she wrote.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

10 Things Our Senior Fashion Editor Wants This June

It's June! Summer is finally here (when the weather decides to cooperate) and it's time to partake in all the quintessential summer activities. These include — but are not limited to — outdoor dining, rooftop lounging, and of course the pool and or b…
By Gabrielle Prescod

Korea’s Most Famous Nail Artist Predicts This Will Be The Next Big Mani Trend

If you follow the world of nail art, you know that there are a lot of weird manicures going viral on the internet. From creepy AF molars to gorgeous, leafy succulents, it seems like there's no end to what people are putting on their nails. While most…
By Sara Tan

11 Short Stories You Can Actually Finish In A Single Beach Trip

Summer is at last upon us, with all of its sticky weather and its rooftop bars and its beachy summer reads. And yes, the ideal summer reading scenario is throwing your shiny new summer novel into your large woven bag, and heading to a beach somewhere…
By Charlotte Ahlin

We Got Married On Our Honeymoon

Women’s life choices have always been saddled with traditions and conventions that don’t necessarily serve us: finite timelines, finite storylines for when, who, and how you love, how you look, what you do, where you go — and our "dream weddings" are…
By Gabrielle Moss

I Finally Realized I'd Found The Perfect Routine For My Hair In The Most Unexpected Way

I stopped spending time on my hair a while ago. Somewhere in between starting a 9-to-5 and burning the side of my face one too many times with a curling iron, I found myself with a zero effort hair styling routine. This includes me washing and condit…
By Olivia Muenter

Everything Sarah Paulson Says Is Fascinating — Even When She's Talking About Nasal Spray

Sarah Paulson is killing me. I’ve asked to read the text chain she has going with her Ocean’s 8 co-stars (weeks before it was reportedly deleted), and though she’s given me a firm “nope” because she doesn't "want to get kicked off the chain,” she’s n…
By Patti Greco

Why I'm Having (The First Ever?) Dinner Party Road Trip Wedding

You have recently gotten engaged to a wonderful human who you love expansively and profoundly, and you are now beginning to plan a wedding — theoretically, anyway. Gosh, there are a lot of decisions to make. Expensive decisions. Do you: Put it off! P…
By Caroline Nash

I Went Shopping At Target With Beyonce's Stylist & You Can Still Buy The Pieces She Picked For Me

Loving the experience of shopping at Target is not exactly rare. There are entire meme categories dedicated to Target. There are Facebook groups. There are Reddit threads about finding the best deals. But I like to think that the particular thrill I …
By Olivia Muenter

They Got Married In A Building Made Of Ice In the Middle of the Winter. Here's Why.

When I first heard about the Hôtel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel and chapel, I pictured something isolated, elegant, and icy-looking — maybe a big, white, Frozen-esque castle in the woods that had enormous ice sculptures inside, or an extr…
By Gabrielle Moss

This Subscription Box Delivers Sheet Masks To You Every Month For $5

Here at Bustle, we're avid fans of the sheet mask. Pop by any one of the Beauty Editors' Instagram stories on a Sunday and you're likely to find us lounging around, with masks draped over our faces and cups of our nighttime beverage of choice in hand…
By Kara McGrath

The 10 Books Readers Said They'd Want Most If They Were Stranded On A Desert Island

It’s the kind of question that comes up in late-night summer camp convos, during those dreaded “getting to know you” icebreaking games, and in the midst of dinner party conversational lulls: if you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would …
By E. Ce Miller

9 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned When I Started Taking Myself Out On Dates Every Week

“Alone?” the waiter asked in a Spanish accent, two menus in his hand. “Yes,” I said as I sat down at a table for two, couples occupying the tables around me. “Alone forever?” he asked, laughing. “I hope not,” I said, forcing myself to smile as he han…
By Natalia Lusinski

If You’re One Of These 4 Zodiac Signs, You’re Gonna Have An Amazing June

The changeable energy of Gemini season is here to usher in summer, and while everyone will get a welcome respite from the stubbornness of Taurus season, these four zodiac signs will have the best June 2018. "You will feel more social than usual durin…
By Brandi Neal

These Are The 32 New Summer Books You'll Really Want To Read

It's finally summer reading season, and it's time to start curating a TBR pile to accompany the warm-weather. Luckily, there's plenty of fantastic new fiction book releases to keep you entertained and riveted all summer long. Warm weather is the per…
By Melissa Ragsdale

The 5 Rom-Coms You Need To Read This Summer, According To Someone Who Writes Them

'Tis the season for rom-coms. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and everyone is rocking the flirtiest items in their wardrobe. I don't know about you, but summer always takes me back to my teenage years — and that automatically makes me want t…
By Cristina Arreola

I've Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000

It all became real the summer before my senior year of college. It was 2010, and my home phone still had a cord, which I wrapped around my fingers as I waited not-so-patiently for the apathetic representative on the other end to tell me the bad news …
By Kaitlyn Cawley