I'm not especially enthusiastic about this reportedly bipartisan gun legislation proposal from what I've seen so far. It seems to be conceding to the framing of the right that our epidemic of gun violence is a school fortification and mental health issue and not a plain old guns everywhere issue.
That said this part is at least something.
The so-called boyfriend loophole – which was cut out of the long delayed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act earlier this year after pressure from the gun lobby – refers to how mere dating partners are not currently on the list of people who are prevented from purchasing a gun if they have been convicted of abusing their significant other. Right now it only applies to people that were married to, lived with, or have a child with someone they have been convicted of abusing.
Tying off this loose end would be a good thing. (Depending of course on what the language actually ends up saying and if we set aside the matter of how hard it is to actually convict someone of domestic violence in the first place.)
As I wrote in this piece a couple years ago for the Boston Globe (which I've included down below):
...half of the 10,000 women murdered between 2003 and 2014 were killed by a current or former partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their domestic abuser if he owns a gun, and domestic violence assaults are twelve times more likely to end in death if there is a gun involved according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Here are some numbers on the intersection of domestic violence and guns from Everytown.
Obviously this won't mean disarming the roughly 40% of of police who are domestic abusers.
I wrote about that a couple years ago as well:
A while back the National Center for Women and Policing pointed to a pair of studies that found a marked increase in instances of domestic violence in the families of police officers.
“Two studies have found that at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10% of families in the general population. A third study of older and more experienced officers found a rate of 24%, indicating that domestic violence is 2-4 times more common among police families than American families in general.”
The studies they pointed to are somewhat outdated by now but on the other hand those numbers might even be low for all we know because it seems likely we wouldn’t even have records of a significant number of such cases. Police violence barely gets tabulated nationally when they murder someone never mind something so "minor" as knocking their old lady around.
As the Atlantic noted in a 2014 piece on the topic “Research is so scant and inadequate that a precise accounting of the problem's scope is impossible.”
And even if the the domestic violence does go into the books it tends not to result in much in the way of punishment.
“[M]ost departments across the country typically handle cases of police family violence informally, often without an official report, investigation, or even check of the victim's safety,” they wrote, adding that "even officers who are found guilty of domestic violence are unlikely to be fired, arrested, or referred for prosecution."
I suppose all the same it is quite literally better than nothing. So there is that. It's rare that we even have "better than nothing" as an option.
Relatedly on the issue of cops as abusers this story somehow keeps getting worse.
Newly released records offered more details on Thursday about how disgraced Boston police patrolman and former union president Patrick M. Rose Sr. was able to keep his badge for 20 years after investigators concluded he likely molested a child.
The 360 pages of heavily redacted documents made clear that more top police officials than previously known were aware of the allegation against Rose, who ultimately pleaded guilty in April to molesting six children.
But the new records still failed to answer the most fundamental question: Who in the Police Department authorized Rose’s return to patrol, where he interacted with children and victims of sexual assault for more than two decades?
The documents do show the decisions to return Rose to full duty were, in part, the result of the efforts by his attorney at the time, Thomas Drechsler, a lawyer for the police patrolmen’s union who is now a Superior Court judge.
The records also made clear that the initial criminal case was not dismissed because Rose was innocent, but rather because the victim was unwilling to cooperate with the investigation and the patrolman had attended therapy. In an affidavit supplied by Dreschler, the victim suggested that they had been coerced by police investigators. Police noted that the court-mandated therapy for Rose was itself “recognition of the existence of a problem.”
The other day Hamish Mckenzie one of the founders of Substack published a long piece about his feelings about me leaving the platform.
It's part complementary and part critical of me. I am biased of course but I think I come across as a guy who was telling his pal that the company he started was in danger of becoming largely thought of as a home for transphobes and anti-vaxxers. I dunno!
He writes about how well I was doing on Substack but in truth since I made the switch to Ghost I've seen my paid-subscribers drop a substantial amount. Not sure why that is but in part I think it's because Substack had better retention tools for subscribers. Cultural baggage aside Substack is a very intuitive and efficient newsletter tool indeed.
In any case if you want subscribe here I would appreciate it.
Speaking of divorces here are two lovely poems on the subject that I just read (shared by Nikita Gill on Twitter)
I was just reminded of this however which was one of the best threads on why a middle aged man should not be getting divorced at this point in time.
I'm happy for Kate Bush indeed but let me know when the kids are discovering Cocteau Twins’ Heaven or Las Vegas.
Oh and by the way it's going to be a huge fuck up if the upcoming Sandman series doesn’t have at least one Siouxsie drop. Morpheus returns from his prison to find his kingdom in disrepair and you gotta play this come on this shit writes itself.
Look at this. I think that's a nice photo of a cow.
Ok here's the Globe piece from a couple years about "the boyfriend loophole."
The NRA thinks your crazy ex-boyfriend should be able to get a gun
The NRA thinks your crazy ex-boyfriend should be able to get a gun. Never mind any threatening messages he may have sent or how often he might have lost his temper. Never mind if he’s actually been convicted of stalking, the gun fetishist lobby is newly worried this month about protecting his right to more easily murder the people he’s been angered by, which is obviously just as the founders intended. And if we’re being honest that person is very likely to be you, his wife or girlfriend.
We know they think this because of, well, everything we know about the NRA and their servants in the Republican death cult, but we also know it because they’ve literally come out against a modest effort to perhaps decrease the number of women killed by stalker exes somewhat. As Congress is set to vote on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act — which was, amazingly, almost universally supported when it was first instituted in 1994 and has remained mostly uncontroversial since — the gun kissers are expressing concern that any incremental changes to what the law says about which domestic abusers can own guns is a slippery slope to tyranny. First you stop the violent exes from getting guns and next thing the King of England is quartering troops in our homes. Or something. In any case, as always, the solution to any problem they say is more guns.
Among the updates Democrats have suggested to the updated bill is closing what is known as the “boyfriend loophole,” which sounds like an excuse you might use when you’re drunk on vacation but is actually a lot scarier than that. Under current federal law a man convicted of abusing a spouse, a co-parent, or live-in partner can have his guns taken away. The updated law would expand that to dating partners or stalkers. Various states throughout the country have other stricter measures of their own on the matter, but it’s remained a glaring oversight on the federal level.
Jennifer Baker, an NRA spokesperson, has crowed that the new completely common sense update is “too broad and ripe for abuse”, saying it might ban people who merely send harassing messages on social media, or those who threaten people they dated five years ago as she put it. Threats on social media, as everyone knows, aren’t real right?
“How it’s written right now, you could be convicted for a misdemeanor stalking offense for a tweet that causes someone emotional distress and then you would be prohibited from owning a firearm,” Baker said, lying.
Stalkers’ rights matter too in other words.
Feeling pressure to vote against what has traditionally been a bipartisan bill, Republicans reportedly asked the NRA to come out against it this time out to provide cover, lest they be seen as supporting something so politically heretical as siding with humans over guns.
Never mind that almost half of the 10,000 women murdered between 2003 and 2014 were killed by a current or former partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or that abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their domestic abuser if he owns a gun, or that domestic violence assaults are twelve times more likely to end in death if there is a gun involved according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Forget about the fact that of the 133 mass shootings between 2009-2015 examined by Every Town for Gun Safety, 57 percent involved an intimate partner or family member being shot. Furthermore, please pay no attention to the fact that in 2016, according to a study of FBI data by the Violence Policy Center, 1,809 women were murdered my men in single victim incidents. Of those where the relationship could be identified, 93 percent, or 1,537 out of 1,651, were men that they knew, and 63 percent were husbands or intimate acquaintances. What should any of that matter when we’re talking about the rights of a man to play big strong army man with his murder toy?
“The NRA opposes domestic violence and all violent crime, and spends millions of dollars teaching countless Americans how not to be a victim and how to safely use firearms for self-defense,” Baker said, which is in keeping with the group’s long held and debunked lie that having a gun in the home makes women safer. In fact, the opposite has been proven time and again, that women are less safe, not more, when keeping a gun in the home.
No matter what they tell you, it’s simply impossible to deny that fewer guns, especially in the hands of violent people, will lead to fewer deaths.
Scroll through the Twitter feed of the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and it becomes easier to put faces to the statistics. Here’s Skylar Williams, an Ohio State student abducted and shot by her ex-boyfriend in February. She had previously told police he had abused her. Here’s Stacia Hollinshead, an Illinois prosecutor who sought a protection order against her ex-husband, who shot her last week with their five year old daughter in the home. There’s Jessica Velazquez, a Texas woman who was killed last month by her husband after trying to separate from him.
After a while it amounts to an overwhelming catalog of death and waste. You might start to get the feeling that the American culture of death is inevitable and that there’s nothing that can be done, but it’s not true. The NRA is flailing and admittedly having fundraising trouble. They were outspent for the first time in recent history by gun control groups in the midterms, and have experienced a series of legislative defeats, particularly as public opinion in the wake of increasing mass shootings has galvanized opponents.
There’s no reason why what small progress has been made of late needs to stop. As groups like Every Town and Moms Demand have shown, the NRA is right, we do have to start defending ourselves. It just doesn’t have to be with a gun.