House approves bill adding "dating partner" protections to domestic violence laws

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Legislators in Baton Rouge agree that "dating partners" — not just spouses and family members — should be included in domestic violence protections. The Louisiana House of Representatives voted May 11 to extend those protections, including preventing offenders from carrying firearms, to dating partners — a distinction applied in 41 other states.

The House voted 59-30 to approve New Orleans Democratic state Rep. Helena Moreno's House Bill 223, which now heads to the state Senate for approval.

It's a significant arm twist to the National Rifle Association (NRA), whose grip on legislators effectively killed several measures over the years that would prevent violent offenders from possessing firearms. The NRA argued "dating partners" encompasses too broad a group — despite reports from the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence showing that, in 2016 alone, 60 percent of Louisiana's intimate partner homicide victims were not married to their abuser.

Moreno added six pages of amendments to ease the NRA's opposition. The amendments redefine "dating partner" (removing reference to “a casual relationship or ordinary association between persons in a business or social context”) and prevent a dating partner convicted of domestic violence crimes from automatically losing their Second Amendment right.

Current state and federal laws prohibit first-time offenders for domestic violence from possessing a firearm for 10 years. The amended bill effectively creates a new crime of violence classification for dating partners that won't strip their ability to have a gun until a second offense.
Another bill, House Bill 27 by state Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, extends same-sex protections to same-sex couples. That bill narrowly won approval in the House and is pending action in a Senate committee.

Louisiana consistently ranks among the top 10 states for domestic homicides, according to the Violence Policy Center, which relies on local data collected by the FBI.

In its September 2016 report of 2014 data, the center placed Louisiana as the second most violent state for women. Sixty-three percent of victims were shot and killed with guns, and 94 percent were killed by someone they knew. Seventy-three percent of victims were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offender.


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