Debate over ‘boyfriend loophole’ takes back seat to impeachment, Iran conflict

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Victims of domestic violence and gun safety advocates grapple with their pet policy, the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

The executive controversy with President Donald Trump and the latest conflict with Iran could delay the process and debate over the controversial “boyfriend loophole” until much later in the year — if not entirely after the November elections.

KXAN spoke to a woman – who will remain anonymous – about the issue. She told KXAN she still fears her ex-boyfriend will see her and hurt her. She grew up in Houston and tells KXAN she was part of an abusive relationship for five years, staying with her boyfriend for far too long.

“It’s very humiliating for me to admit that I did this,” she said.

About a year into the relationship, he kicked her. They would go out in Houston often and the boyfriend’s action became more violent, including neighbors calling police after multiple scuffles and assaults.

After the five-year relationship, she ended up leaving after watching the O.J. Simpson trial on television. She moved to Austin and began dating someone else. The ex would follow her, drop off VHS tapes on their door, and one day – according to her – the ex flashed a pistol at the couple.

She didn’t press charges because she feared humiliating information the boyfriend had would go public.

“I wanted for them to be aware but I didn’t really want to go to court because if I did then he would do the things he said he would do,” she told KXAN.

The Violence Against Women Act expired last year. If the couple was married and the man was convicted of domestic abuse, he could not own a weapon.

During the revamping of the law, the Democratic-led U.S. House changed the law to close the “boyfriend loophole,” making guns off-limits to dating partners that are convicted of stalking, abuse, or assault.

It faces a long, tough road in the Senate. Leadership in the upper chamber has opposed taking the House version without major changes.

It led to a back and forth with Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. Cornyn opposed the House version of the bill because he said Texas law already would stop a convicted misdemeanor domestic abuser from getting a gun for up to five years.

This week, the U.S. Senate will have its hands full with the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, leaving victims, like the one KXAN spoke with, waiting.

“When you’re not even having the conversation, they’re not even things that people are thinking about,” she said.

With each passing day, it looks more and more like it will re-enter the conversation after the November elections.

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