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Bill to Help Domestic-Violence Victims Clears House

Access to a gun in a domestic-violence situation vastly increases the likelihood of homicide. (Rusty Frank/Wikimedia Commons)
Access to a gun in a domestic-violence situation vastly increases the likelihood of homicide. (Rusty Frank/Wikimedia Commons)
April 29, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. - A bill to help protect victims of domestic violence passed in Connecticut's House of Representatives on Wednesday.

By a 104-42 vote, the House sent House Bill 5054 on to the Senate for consideration. That bill would require those subject to temporary restraining orders to turn over their firearms to police or a federally licensed dealer.

According to Karen Jarmoc, president and chief executive of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, access to firearms in a domestic-violence situation increases the likelihood of homicide by 500 percent.

"When a victim leaves a relationship, and quite often when they apply for a restraining order that is the first time they are signaling that they are leaving, it's a highly dangerous and lethal time," she said.

Opponents of the bill have said it would violate the due-process and Second Amendment rights of gun owners. But Jarmok countered that the bill isn't about confiscating firearms; it's about protecting life.

"We're talking about an applicant who has sworn that the information on their application for the ex-parte order is true," she said. "There's a process where it's reviewed by a judge, and not all ex parte orders are issued."

HB 5054 also would require a hearing on a permanent restraining order within seven days and, if an order is lifted, the return of firearms within five days.

At least 20 other states have passed similar laws. Jarmok said Connecticut's bill almost passed last year but was put off by the threat of a filibuster at the end of the legislative session. She said she believes this year will be different.

"Lawmakers who support it are very secure in staving off any attempts by opponents to pull out amendments and filibusters that will derail it," she said, "because they feel so important about this measure."

The bill could come up for a vote in the Senate as early as this weekend.

The text of the bill is online at cga.ct.gov.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT