Congress Stalls Over Boyfriend Loophole in Gun Laws

Congress Stalls Over Boyfriend Loophole in Gun Laws

Congress Stalls Over Loophole In Newest Law

( – In early June, 20 bipartisan senators decided it was time to address the growing mass gun violence in America after the Uvalde, Texas, school mass shooting on May 24. On Sunday, June 12, the evenly divided group between Democrats and Republicans announced they came to a framework agreement to draft legislation. For a time, many were optimistic a deal would be made.

In the time since the announcement, negotiations have sputtered. Two central issues remain elusive for lawmakers: the boyfriend loophole and red flag laws are at the center of contention. What are these two important ideas, and could they restrict innocent Americans’ Constitutional rights?

If the issues aren’t resolved, any bill that comes forward to a vote could fail, and with June 27 quickly coming as Congress prepares for its annual summer recess, things aren’t looking promising for the bipartisan group.

The Boyfriend Loophole and Red Flag Laws

For years, domestic violence advocates have pushed lawmakers to close the boyfriend loophole. Under current US law, those convicted of domestic violence are prohibited from owning a gun if they are married, live with someone, or have a child with the domestic abuse victim. The law doesn’t apply to someone who is dating and doesn’t meet any of the other requirements.

It appears that the bipartisan negotiators are struggling with specific language regarding how to identify a significant other in an unmarried relationship. Democrats want to tighten the legal definition, and Republicans are concerned about civil and Constitutional liberties.

Red flag laws are also under the gun, pun intended. Lead GOP Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said there are complicated questions that arise if Congress pushes red flag laws to the states through grants, and many wonder how different states will spend that money to create and enforce red flag laws. These laws allow courts to temporarily seize guns if it determines a gun owner could be a threat to themselves or others. Still, there are questions if red flag laws prevent mass crimes.

As the bipartisan group considers both issues, there are serious Constitutional concerns.

Do the Two Proposals Violate Civil Liberties and Due Process?

In the United States, the Constitution states that one is considered innocent of a crime until proven guilty by a jury of their peers. Tightening the boyfriend loophole and expanding red flag laws could pose significant problems for individuals not found guilty of committing a serious or violent crime.

In both cases, gun rights advocates and Republicans argue that the two ideas violate due process. In the case of the boyfriend loophole, if it’s tightened beyond the current law, will it infringe on someone’s legal right to own a gun who was not convicted of a crime and doesn’t live with the convicted domestic abuser?

In the case of red flag laws, experts warn that the standard to take someone’s property, regardless of for how long, should have an extremely high bar to cross. Some question if the laws will be used as a weapon against a gun owner by a former spouse, lover, or friend who feels scorned. Still, others say without a criminal conviction, one’s Second Amendment rights should not be violated.

So, as Congress continues this debate, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) noted he won’t commit to voting for anything without seeing legislation first. On Sunday, June 19, Lee said he was surprised there hasn’t been a draft proposal of a law yet. The conservative senator said a lot can go wrong when lawmakers begin drafting statutes and insinuated that while the framework may have been doable for 10 GOP Senators, the details could be sticking points.

Only time will, and it’s running out fast.

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