Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that, as part of the package of proposals he will introduce later this month, he will sponsor legislation designed to protect the victims of domestic violence. This legislation will prohibit possession of firearms for anyone who becomes subject to a temporary restraining order, eliminating a critical window of time during which time a victim’s life could be at risk.
“We know that the period of time immediately following a domestic violence victim’s application for a restraining order is one of the most volatile, and access to a firearm in that situation presents an additional, outstanding threat,” said Governor Malloy. “If a judge determines that a victim is in enough danger that they should be granted a temporary restraining order, that victim should not have to wait until they are fully protected. This is a common sense proposal already enacted in many states across our country, and will protect against needless tragedy. It’s not a Democrat or Republican initiative – it is, simply, a logical one.”
Under current state law, after a temporary restraining order is issued, a hearing must occur before a judge can issue a permanent restraining order and prohibit firearm possession. These hearings often come weeks after the temporary restraining order is issued. The governor’s proposal will require that individuals relinquish their firearms shortly after the judge’s temporary restraining order is issued, giving victims additional protection at this critical time.
“It is unconscionable that domestic violence puts so many lives — and so many women and children — at risk,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. “Victims must know that government and the courts will take seriously these threats of violence, and this proposal demonstrates the strength of our commitment to their protection. I applaud Governor Malloy and the many legislators and advocates who have taken a stand to prevent domestic violence.”
“In instances where an individual’s safety is potentially at risk in their own home, we must make every effort we can to ensure that they are free from harm,” said State Senator Eric Coleman (D-Hartford), who serves as Senate chairman of the judiciary committee. “This is a reasonable proposal that puts public safety first, and is a good example of Connecticut taking the lead on domestic violence prevention.”
State Representative William Tong (D-Stamford, Darien), who serves as House chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said, “This legislation is critical to protect families from domestic violence. Families, particularly children, should not have to wait weeks for a court hearing when they are in any kind of danger because another person has access to a gun. The gun can always be returned later to the rightful owner, but the bullet that could injure or kill someone cannot be unfired.”
“The time between the issuance of a temporary restraining order and the hearing is one of the most volatile and often deadly times in a domestic violence situation,” said State Senator Mae Flexer (D-Killingly), who is a longtime advocate of domestic violence prevention measures. “For several years, Connecticut has been struggling with a way to address this public safety issue, and I believe this proposal finally does that. I applaud Governor Malloy for his leadership on this matter.”
State victim advocate Natasha Pierre said, “The Office of the Victim Advocate is in full support of this proposed legislation and happy to stand with the Governor to advocate for its passage. Right here in Connecticut, we have seen examples where a victim’s life could have been saved if there was a requirement for firearms to be surrendered in cases dealing with temporary restraining orders. Closing this gap is vitally important for the safety of individuals trying to escape an abusive relationship.”
“Connecticut is a state that averages 14 domestic violence homicides annually with firearms having been the most frequently used weapon in those murders,” said Karen Jarmoc, chief executive officer of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “We know that the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is when she or he leaves and that a victim in an abusive relationship is five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a firearm. Given all of this, the Governor’s proposal offers meaningful policy aimed at protecting restraining order applicants at an enormously vulnerable time. Such measure will and can save lives.”
“We commend the governor on this initiative, because women are at greatest risk of injury or death in the time immediately after they file for a restraining order, so it is common sense to remove firearms as soon as possible,” explained Carolyn Treiss, executive director of Connecticut’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. “A firearm in the home is much more likely to be used to kill or injure someone in a domestic incident than in self-defense – up to 22 times more often, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Therefore, law enforcement has the responsibility to take all precautions possible to protect those at risk, who are, overwhelmingly, women.”
The legislation will be filed along with the governor’s package of proposals for the 2015 session of the General Assembly.