Group urges Obama to close ‘Boyfriend Loophole’ through executive order

The women’s group known as UltraViolet on Monday delivered a petition containing some 44,000 signatures to President Obama in an attempt to reduce domestic violence deaths by closing what is known as the “Boyfriend Loophole.”

The group calls domestic homicides a “dire issue” for women, which statistics from the Department of Justice, make up the overwhelming majority – over 80 percent – of domestic violence victims, with a domestic assault occurring once every nine seconds in the United States. Of the incidents that turn fatal, just over half – 51 percent – of the attackers use guns, with the remaining 49 percent opting for other instruments of death, such as knives, blunt objects and bodily force.

According to the group, which is self-described as “a powerful and rapidly growing community of people from all walks of life mobilized to fight sexism and expand women’s rights,” domestic abusers and stalkers are allowed to legally obtain firearms in 35 states through the loophole, and the group is calling on the president to pass gun control measures through his power of executive action, “without congressional approval,” to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous abusers.

“Stalkers and abusers simply shouldn’t have access to guns – and when they do, women die,” said UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas in a press release. “President Obama could save countless women’s lives by taking action today.”

The group cites a 2003 study claiming the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the chances of a woman being killed by 500 percent.

Related: Does the presence of a firearm escalate domestic violence to murder?

Currently, federal law prohibits individuals convicted of domestic violence from possessing firearms, but, with the exception of 10 states, measures aren’t necessarily taken to ensure those individuals turn over firearms they already own. However, these protective measures specifically address married couples or couples who are or at one time were living together, but exclude those in current or prior relationships who were never married or lived together.

Furthermore, individual states are also left with the responsibility to independently report crimes committed which may bar certain individuals from purchasing a gun and therefore be flagged during a background check, something which doesn’t always happen.