© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

One Virginia lawmaker wants to close the state's "boyfriend loophole"

Assault weapons and hand guns for sale.
Seth Perlman
Assault weapons and hand guns for sale.

Democrats in the General Assembly are poised to send several bills to the governor's desk aimed at cracking down on gun violence — including one to close a loophole involving unmarried couples.

Senator Russet Perry is a Democrat from Loudoun County who wants to close what she calls "the boyfriend loophole." That's why she introduced legislation creating new domestic violence protections for people convicted of assault and battery against an intimate partner.

Republican Senator Richard Stuart of King George County worries that's too vague to take away someone's gun.

"An intimate partner is defined as someone in a romantic, dating relationship," Stuart says. "And that's a very subjective standard because what I may think is romantic, someone else might not."

Perry says this happens in courtrooms every day.

"What do you do if there are conflicting stories? Yes, it was a romantic relationship. No, it wasn't. What do you do about that," she asks. "Well, I was a prosecutor for many years, and that exact situation would arise occasionally. And it's an element of the offense that I would have to prove, that anyone would have to prove. Were they cohabitating partners? Were they married? Do they have a child in common? These are common questions that happen in these types of cases."

Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin says Virginia already has enough gun laws, so it seems unlikely that he would sign the bill or any of the other gun violence protection bills Democrats will be sending him this year.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.