Since the 1990s, federal law has barred those convicted of domestic abuse from legally buying guns. But existing law suffers from a "stalker gap," a "boyfriend gap" and a "restraining-order gap." Individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses are not barred from passing background checks and buying guns. In addition, abusers who are not married, do not live together or do not share a child -- those in dating relationships -- aren't covered by the ban.

     More controversially, although abusers subject to permanent restraining orders cannot legally possess or purchase guns, no such prohibition applies in situations where only a temporary order is in place. In other words, the protections are lowest at precisely the point when women are in the greatest danger.

     The numbers demonstrate both the gender gap in the nature of violent crime and how deadly these loopholes may be.

     As to the gender gap: Women are less likely than men to be the victims of violent crime, but when they are, the perpetrator is far more likely to be someone they know. Between 2003 and 2012, one-third of female murder victims were killed by a male intimate partner, compared with 2.5 percent of men, according to figures analyzed by the Center for American Progress.

     More than half of these killings were committed with guns. The numbers are staggering: 6,410 deaths, more than the total number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

     Indeed, according to a study by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, having a gun in the house increases the risk of intimate-partner homicide by eight times compared to households without guns -- and 20-fold when there is a history of domestic violence.


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