The Violence Against Women Act: 25 Years Later

Last week, the House of Representatives voted for a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), but this time, the rules may be altered. Here’s what you need to know about the additions proposed by House Democrats.

  1. Currently, it is illegal for someone who has committed a felony to purchase a gun; however, the additions to VAWA aim to prevent those with a record of misdemeanors, specifically those convicted of domestic abuse or stalking, from obtaining guns. The NRA, as well as some House Republicans believe this is simply an attempt to bar Americans from fully exercising their Second Amendment rights. Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the NRA, emphasized the organization’s general support for VAWA, yet she also declared its discomfort with House Democrats’ propositions.  
  2. Through another addition, non-Native American U.S. citizens can be tried in tribal courts for committing domestic abuse on Native American land.
  3. The new VAWA could also grant transgender women the ability to stay in shelters or prisons that align with their gender identities, as opposed to the sex they were assigned at birth.
  4. Finally, House Democrats propose the implementation of an “alternative justice response,” which provides an opportunity for abusers and survivors of abuse to have a discussion with a mediator present in an effort to reconcile.
  5. Some House Republicans oppose these three provisions as well, especially the one relating to transgender women. They believe that people should be organized into shelters and prisons on the basis of their biological sex and that such organization is more likely to prevent violence than the Democrats’ proposition.  
  6. Like these House Republicans and the NRA, according to White House spokesman Judd Deere, the presidential administration is solely in favor of the previous version of VAWA.

Through the new version of VAWA, House Democrats claim they aim to take into account women of diverse identities and their specific needs, but House Republicans see Democrats’ agenda differently. Soon, we will see how the Senate responds to these additions.