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Lawmakers proposing changes to close 'boyfriend loophole'

Bipartisan deal seeks to change that
Posted at 8:16 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 21:16:57-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Tammy Willett looked through an old scrapbook. It contained her daughter’s photos, letters, memorabilia and even her first tooth.

“I think she won best stage personality,” Willett said while looking at a pageant her daughter had competed in. “My daughter Brandi, she was the life of the party.”

Her daughter Brandi Kubos was a 22-year-old who had her entire life ahead of her.

That was until her boyfriend — who she lived with at the time —used a gun to end her life in 2010.

“Its been 11 years and I can’t remember who I was as a person. What I liked to do, my hobbies, the things I enjoyed, because that night — November 25, 2010 — the Tammy that existed, she died, too,” Willett described with tears in her eyes as she recounted the years after her daughter died.

"I didn’t expect to cry,” she added.

She said she usually keeps a calm composure when telling her daughter’s story

However, Willett also has a closer connection to domestic violence. She was a survivor herself.

“He tried to strangle me. If he had had a gun, it would have played a huge factor,” she recounted.

Not noticing the signs of domestic abuse in her own daughter’s relationship after having gone through a similar situation, she lives with survivor’s guilt.

“We didn’t have those conversations, so eight years later, Brandi didn’t know that she should be having, that there was such a thing as a safety plan,” she said.

Willett is now a director for Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence.

She helps families whose loved ones die, cope with their loss.

But what’s hovering over Willett’s mind, is a bipartisan group of senators who are proposing gun legislation changes.

U.S. Senators are calling to close the “Boyfriend Loophole.”

Federal law prohibits someone convicted of domestic violence to own a gun if they were married to, have a child with, or lived with the victim.

It does not, however, ban abusers from having a gun if they don’t fit in those three categories.

“If that’s just your girlfriend, then fine, you still have a right to have a gun, even though you abused her?” Willett said. “So no, it doesn’t even make sense to me."

A studey by the Texas Council on Family Violence found, of about 180 women who were killed due to domestic abuse, 65 percent were killed with a firearm.

Molly Voyles, their director of public policy said wording in certain laws needs to include dating violence.

“As we’ve kind of evolved our definitions of family violence to include dating violence, those codes need to make that same evolution to offer victims of dating violence those same protections,” Voyles said.

Years after her daughter died, Willett is hoping legislators consider passing background checks and requirements to take a gun course before owning a gun as well as closing the “Boyfriend Loophole.”

“To the legislators that are against those changes, talk to a mother. Talk to a mother whose lost a daughter, to somebody that has to live my life,” she said.