Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar said at a campus event Friday that she thinks states need to increase legislation that protects survivors of domestic violence.
Klobuchar visited campus Friday morning to lead a roundtable discussion on domestic violence organized by the Bruin Democrats. At the roundtable, she said she thinks states should restrict domestic violence perpetrators’ access to firearms and provide greater support for survivors.
The senator began working on domestic violence issues when she was the district attorney of Hennepin County, Minnesota.
As district attorney, Klobuchar said she worked to improve domestic violence centers where victims could go to get information on safe places to stay and procedures for filing a case or placing a restraining order.
The presidential candidate more recently introduced the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act in January – federal legislation that would further protect victims of domestic violence from their abusers.
The legislation would attempt, on a national level, to close the “boyfriend loophole,” which allows domestic violence convicts who are or were only dating their victims to still own guns, Klobuchar said. It would also prevent convicted stalkers from owning guns, she added.
“In the years between 2001 and 2010, states that (stopped) convicted stalkers from owning guns in their space had a gun homicide rate for women that was 20% lower than the national average,” Klobuchar said.
California state Sen. Susan Rubio also spoke about her personal experience with domestic violence at the event.
Rubio, who was married to her abuser, said she encountered difficulties confronting her abuser because of California’s three-year statute of limitations for domestic violence cases.
“That means that in three years, you have to figure out you’re a victim,” Rubio said. “You have to figure out how to get counseling, then figure out how you’re going to tell your family, figure out how you’ll deal with this publicly and still have the right mind to take your abuser to court.”
Rubio authored a bill, which was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday, that extended the statute of limitations to five years.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone, Rubio added.
“I used to think it couldn’t happen to me,” Rubio said. “I have a bachelor’s (degree), master’s (degree). I was an educator (and) a councilwoman locally. I always thought it doesn’t happen to people like me, and it did. Before I knew it, I was already caught up in a relationship.”
Klobuchar said the trauma left behind by domestic violence incidents is felt by both the victims and their families.
“It’s the entire family, it’s the entire community,” Klobuchar said. “And that’s why I’m so devoted to going after these cases, preventing them in the first place.”
She added while creating and enforcing laws is important, the country also needs strong role models to tackle issues such as domestic violence.
“It’s about having men and women to be able to see women in a different light,” she said. “And that changes minds and changes our society, which is just a great argument for having a woman president.”
Matt Benowitz, the policy director of Bruin Democrats, said his organization hosted the event to try to get students directly involved with the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
He said this campaign season is a great opportunity to shed light on many issues that do not get enough attention.
“Things that we are hearing about are things that are life and death, from the climate crisis to gun control to domestic violence,” Benowitz said. “People have really pressing concerns in their daily lives, and that’s what’s fueling their activism and that’s why UCLA is so energized and so ready to defeat (President) Donald Trump in 2020.”
Daphne Sinclaire, a third-year anthropology student who attended the event, said she liked Klobuchar and Rubio’s push to restrict access to firearms by domestic violence convicts.
“If you are convicted of doing these horrible things to other people, you shouldn’t have access to an assault weapon, which should be common sense in my opinion,” Sinclaire said.
Sinclaire, who also volunteers as a domestic violence counselor at a shelter in Santa Monica, said she was impressed to hear a presidential candidate discuss domestic violence.
“That is not something that people talk about in politics ever,” Sinclaire said. “And if it is, it’s just a speed bump to get to other issues. I think it’s amazing that she’s talking about it and it definitely needs to become a norm.”