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Long Island Rep. Rice Introduces Bill That Would Prevent Domestic Violence Abusers From Buying Firearms

BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There's a push on Long Island to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of domestic violence.

On a quiet residential street in Baldwin, victims of domestic abuse say please help those suffering behind closed doors.

Bethany House opens its arms to women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Sister Aimee Koonmen recounted a 5-year-old's weekend visit with his father.

"He was on a court-appointed visit and when he came back, he told his mommy that he had a really nice time with daddy and daddy let him play with his gun," Sister Aimee told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan.

guns, handguns, firearms
(Photo: CBSN New York)

On Monday, Bethany House was the backdrop of a bipartisan national bill introduced by Congresswoman Kathleen Rice to help prevent domestic abusers from buying guns.

"Research has shown that victims of domestic violence are five times more likely to be killed if their partner owns a gun," said Rice, a Democrat representing central and southern Nassau County.

National statistics show more than 600 women in America are shot and killed by an intimate partner each year.

The legislation, known as the "Bipartisan Domestic Violence Reporting Act," is co-sponsored by a Republican from Ohio. It creates incentives for states to provide complete domestic violence records to federal background check databases.

Currently, loopholes in the system mean, in many cases, domestic violence convictions and orders of protection issued by the courts are not updated, and a criminal background check turns up nothing, allowing the abuser to purchase a firearm.

"This is another means to do a background check to flag this person. Thus the red flag law, background checks. It all fits in. It's something we need. It's all common sense," said Linda Beigel Schulman, the mother of Parkland shooting victim Scott Beigel.

"Abusers should not have access to weapons, whatsoever," added Keith Scott of The Safe Center LI.

If the bill passes, federal dollars would be given to states to update their information on domestic violence incidents, orders of protection, and convictions in a national database.

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