Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo addressed the press outside of the medical examiner’s office Monday, suggesting Sgt. Christopher Brewster would not have been killed in the line of duty Saturday if not for the “boyfriend loophole” — a gap in gun legislation that allows domestic violence offenders whose victims are not married to, living with or a parent with them to still own guns.
Brewster responded to the call at a home Saturday night. Suspect Arturo Solis’ girlfriend called 911, saying he assaulted her and that he was armed with two guns. When Brewster arrived and got out of his car, Solis opened fire on him. He had a prior conviction of domestic violence in 2015 and an alleged history of mental illness.
In his remarks, Acevedo blamed Republican leaders for failing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which had a provision that prevented the “boyfriend loophole.” Under this provision, dating partners that do not live or have children with their victims can still be barred from gun access if they’ve been convicted of stalking or abuse. Acevedo called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas for not supporting the provision.
He accused them of pandering to the National Rifle Association (NRA).
However, Cornyn’s spokesperson, Drew Brandewie told the press there are already laws, including in Texas, that prevent anyone with any misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from buying guns for five years after release from jail.
“So the ‘loophole’ he spent so much time blaming Sens. Cornyn and Cruz for didn’t apply because [Solis] already wasn’t supposed to own a gun,” Brandewie told the Washington Post.
But the “boyfriend loophole” still exists in the Lautenberg Amendment of the federal Gun Control Act. Under this act, for an offender to be denied access to a gun, they must
- Be a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.
- Share a child in common with the victim.
- Be a current or former cohabitant with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian.
- Be similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.
Dating partners are not mentioned.
According to Texas gun laws, though, Solis should have been prevented from owning a gun.
In 2013, when VAWA was up for reauthorization, Cornwyn, Cruz and McConnell voted no because they saw issues with the broadness of some of it they saw in conflict with the Constitution.
In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans are in disagreement over what version of the VAWA to pass, so its progress is stalled. The House reauthorized an expanded version in the spring, which closed the “boyfriend loophole” and added extra protections to LGBTQ and Native American women. The NRA opposed this version, with an NRA spokeswoman telling the New York Times in April that it was “too broad and ripe for abuse.”
On Twitter, Acevedo had advocated on Twitter for Cruz, Cornyn and McConnell to pass the VAWA, but Cornwyn replied, saying the progress on the bill is halted because of “impeachment mania.”
Unfortunately, important legislation like this has fallen casualty to impeachment mania. We will keep trying to pass a bipartisan bill but it takes two (parties) to tango https://t.co/Qr3NcTOzM3
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) December 5, 2019
But on Monday, Acevedo said impeachment wasn’t the problem — ties with the NRA were.
Police found Solis jumping a fence and apprehended him at a nearby elementary school. Solis allegedly asked officers if Brewster was okay, the Houston Chronicle reported. He is charged with capital murder of a police officer.