November 15, 2017

Following Shooting In Texas, Kaine Introduces Bill To Close Loophole In Military Justice System That Enables Convicted Abusers To Purchase Guns

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and 15 of their colleagues to introduce the Military Domestic Violence Reporting Enhancement Act, legislation to close a dangerous loophole in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that enables convicted abusers to purchase firearms.

“Time and again from Virginia Tech, to Charleston, and now to a small church in Texas, we have seen holes in the background record check system allow guns to get in the hands of people who shouldn't have access to them,” Kaine said. “Our background record check system is only as good as the data we put into it, and the Military Domestic Violence Reporting Enhancement Act would help close one of those loopholes and protect Americans from gun violence.”

Federal civilian law mandates that those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence are not authorized to purchase a firearm. Under the current UCMJ, which is applied to military personnel on active duty, a domestic violence conviction is not called domestic violence—it is categorized as assault. This difference in terminology spurs confusion as it is not immediately clear when convictions in the military meet the requirements of federal civilian law.

This loophole in terminology means that these convictions are rarely reported under the federal law that keeps those convicted of domestic violence charges from buying a gun. The Military Domestic Violence Reporting Enhancement Act would create a charge of Domestic Violence under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and mandate that convictions must be reported to federal databases that would keep abusers from purchasing firearms within three days.

The Military Domestic Violence Reporting Enhancement Act is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Patty Murray (D- WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Van Hollen (D- MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

###