Washington, D.C.—Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) sent a letter with 45 of her colleagues to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice to strengthen the effectiveness of federal and state domestic violence laws that prohibit the possession of firearms by domestic abusers.

The letter calls on the Department of Justice to improve relinquishment laws through increased education and grant funding. These laws reduce the rates of violence, including homicides, for domestic partners, law enforcement, and in mass shootings. Domestic violence remains a persistent threat to many Americans––particularly women––and firearm ownership can often escalate abuses and turn deadly. The risk of intimate partner homicide is five times greater if an abuser has access to a firearm. Increasing education and funding will vastly improve domestic firearm violence.

“Domestic violence affects one in four women nationwide, and when abusers have access to guns, these attacks often turn deadly,” said Congresswoman Ross. “Today, I am proud to join my colleagues to urge the Department of Justice to do everything within its power to keep dangerous firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers. This is just the latest effort in our fight against gun violence, and I will not stop pushing for commonsense solutions to protect women’s safety.”

“U.S. domestic violence is rampant and it has only been exacerbated during the pandemic,” said Congressman Swalwell. “States without relinquishment laws or those which are not adequately enforced experience far greater intimate partner homicides. We need uniform guidance and additional grant funding to prevent guns from remaining in the hands of domestic abusers.”

“It is dangerous and absurd that convicted domestic abusers – who are barred from gun ownership – still have access to guns,” said Congressman Cicilline. “Implementing these policies, and making sure that any firearms in an abuser’s possession are taken away, must be a priority for local law enforcement and the DOJ. Our failure to do so is killing people.”

“Domestic violence and gun violence are inextricably intertwined—violence is far more deadly when it occurs in a household with a gun. Sadly, every month in this country, on average, 70 American women are shot to death by an intimate partner and many more are injured. With stronger measures in place to enforce existing laws and educate the public about these risks, we can help save lives,” said Congresswoman McBath. “Strengthening these laws will empower the fight against gun violence, help protect our communities, and keep every American safer in their homes. I’m proud to help lead this effort alongside my colleagues.”

“Fully confronting the gun violence crisis means disarming domestic abusers,” said Congressman Raskin. “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen alarming increases in violence against women and in intimate partner homicides. I worked to promote strong relinquishment policy in my time as a Maryland State Senator, and I’m happy to join my colleague Rep. Swalwell in working in Congress to strengthen relinquishment policies across the country. I salute him for his leadership.”

“Access to a firearm drastically increases the rates of violence against women and intimate partner homicides. Fueled by the stresses of the pandemic and an unprecedented surge in gun sales, we have seen incidents of domestic violence rise as people spend more time with their abusers and stresses compound,” said Congresswoman Scanlon. “The federal government has the tools to address this issue — we need the Department of Justice to strengthen those available tools to make them more effective. Federal and state domestic violence laws require abusers to relinquish firearms, but additional guidance, support, and funding are needed to ensure that they are consistently implemented. With increased education and grant funding, the DOJ can help reduce domestic violence and intimate partner homicide rates.”

Joining Congresswoman Ross on the letter are Reps. Auchincloss, Barragan, Blumenauer, Bonamici, Bordeaux, Brown, Carson, Casten, Castro, Cicilline, Cleaver III, Connolly, Cooper, Costa, Crist, DeGette, DeSaulnier, Espaillat, Foster, García, Grijalva, Hayes, Himes, Holmes Norton, Kelly, Kildee, Larson, Lofgren, Maloney, Manning, McBath, McCollum, Meng, Moore, Neguse, Peters, Raskin, Roybal-Allard, Scanlon, Schakowsky, Swalwell, Titus, Vargas, Watson Coleman, and Wilson.

The letter is supported by the Brady: United Against Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, Guns Down America, and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

For the full text of the House letter, please click here.