The issue: When a woman files a temporary restraining order against her partner, she is most vulnerable to violence. Yet in this country the partner is allowed to keep firearms until the restraining order becomes permanent by court order. The consequences can be deadly.
We have repeatedly advocated for law enforcement to have the right to confiscate weapons when a temporary restraining order is served.
If this had been a state law on May 7, 2014, Lori Jackson Gellatly might still be alive. On the day before she was to go to court for a permanent restraining order against her estranged husband, Scott Gellatly, he forced his way into the Oxford home where Lori Jackson Gellatly had sought safety with her parents. He shot her to death — with a gun he legally owned — severely injured his former mother-in-law, Merry Jackson, and shot the dog while the 18-month-old twins slept upstairs. Gellatly was serving time in prison when he died in December.
What we said: “Connecticut has come far in the 30 years since Tracy Thurman sued Torrington and members of its police department for violating her constitutional rights by not treating domestic violence with the same seriousness as other assaults. Protective laws were enacted and awareness of domestic violence — which is class-less and can happen in any city, suburb or rural town — was raised. But that is not enough.”
— Editorial, May 11, 2014
“Connecticut should act quicker than Congress and should join with 20 other states that prudently require those under temporary restraining orders to turn in weapons within 24 hours if there’s ‘immediate and present physical danger.’ ... The right for anyone to keep a weapon does not trump the right to life.”
— Editorial, March 13, 2015
“If the law was changed to allow the confiscation of weapons immediately after the issuance of a restraining order, Connecticut would be a safer place, particularly for the victims of domestic abuse.”
— Editorial, Sept. 17, 2015
What happened: The Connecticut state Legislature failed to act in 2015, but the next year successfully adopted the “Act Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence.” Even Texas, known for its gun support, has a similar law. But the federal government has irresponsibly taken no action.
What’s new: U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat representing Connecticut, on Monday introduced the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act at a Hartford press conference with Merry Jackson and Karen Jarmoc, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. He first introduced the bill in 2017 with U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, also from Connecticut, and six other co-sponsors.
What should happen next: The Senate must step up and bring the bill to a vote, first in the Judiciary Committee then the full chamber. The House needs to act, too. A domestic violence victim is five times more likely to become a homicide victim if the partner has access to a gun. Close the restraining order loophole and save lives.