November 15, 2017

Cortez Masto Cosponsors Bill to Close Loophole in Military Justice System that Enables Convicted Domestic Abusers to Buy Guns

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today cosponsored the Military Domestic Violence Reporting Enhancement Act, legislation to close a dangerous loophole in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that enables convicted abusers to purchase firearms.

“We’ve lost too many lives to gun violence at the hands of dangerous individuals who should not have been allowed to buy a gun in the first place. Congress must take necessary steps to prevent tragic shootings like in Sutherland Springs, Texas from happening by closing a dangerous loophole in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that allowed the gunman to avoid reporting requirements, despite his domestic violence conviction, and buy military assault weapons. This bill will protect lives.”


Federal civilian law mandates that those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence are not authorized to purchase a firearm. Under the current UCMJ, which is applied to military personnel on active duty, a domestic violence conviction is not called domestic violence—it is categorized as assault. This difference in terminology spurs confusion as it is not immediately clear when convictions in the military meet the requirements of federal civilian law.

This loophole in terminology means that these convictions are rarely reported under the federal law that keeps those convicted of domestic violence charges from buying a gun. The Military Domestic Violence Reporting Enhancement Act would create a charge of Domestic Violence under the UCMJ and mandate that convictions must be reported to federal databases that would keep abusers from purchasing firearms within three days. 

The bill, introduced by U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), was also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D- WA), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Van Hollen (D- Md.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).