Connecticut’s legislature made a significant move to protect victims of domestic violence from further harm by abusers by passing a bill that will block people under a temporary restraining order from being in possession of a gun.
“With this legislation, we've taken an important step towards protecting victims of domestic violence,” Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said in an official statement. “Rather than endure the hand-wringing that follows a deadly family violence incident, Connecticut is addressing the threat that firearms make to victims – before a life is lost.”
After passing through the state’s House last week and Senate on Monday, the bill is headed to the desk of Gov. Dannel Malloy for signing. The Democratic governor introduced a version of the “commonsense” legislation to Connecticut’s General Assembly in February and has supported the effort since then.
“We have a moral obligation to work to prevent needless tragedy and to make this the law. Women in abusive relationships are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a firearm,” Malloy said. “When an instance of domestic violence rises to the point that a temporary restraining order is needed, we must do everything we can to prevent tragedy. Now, Connecticut will take a commonsense step towards strengthening and enhancing our gun violence protection laws.”
While the state already blocks firearm possession in conjunction with permanent restraining orders, those under temporary restraint are subject to a hearing before their status and ability to have a deadly weapon can be changed. Those days and hours before a hearing also happen to be the period when the potential victims of those subject to restraining orders have been found to be most vulnerable to harm, especially if guns are involved. Connecticut averaged 14 intimate partner homicides annually from 2000 to 2012, said Malloy, and firearms were the most frequently utilized weapons in those cases.
The new law would require those served with a temporary order to turn over their firearms within one day of issuance. Guns could be returned within a week of their seizure if a hearing results in the dropping of a formal restraining order.
Connecticut joins more than a dozen other states that have moved to toughen guns restrictions for domestic abusers, as gun violence between partners remains relatively prevalent. Between 2006 and 2014, 760 people were killed annually by their spouses or partners in the United States, according to the Associated Press.
Many states have yet to enact similar laws, and federal regulations are generally considered to be less effective than more local oversight, but Connecticut’s lead may soon extend to the national level. US Sen. Richard Blumenthal plans to introduce similar legislation in Congress, ABC News reports, to “end its complicity with domestic violence gun deaths.”
“Abusers are often at the height of their rage after being served with a temporary restraining order, and this new Connecticut law removes deadly weapons from their hands before they can cause irreversible harm,” Sen. Blumenthal told ABC. “The link between guns and domestic violence is a deadly one. We must act quickly. Lives are literally on the line.”
This report contains material from the Associated Press.