Advocates Urge Lawmakers to Pass Bill to Protect Domestic Violence Victims From Gun Violence
Lori Jackson’s family traveled to the state Capitol Saturday night in hopes of saving a bill designed to take firearms out of the hands of individuals who receive a restraining order in cases of domestic violence.
The Jacksons, who are hoping to make domestic violence victims safer following their daughter’s murder last year, were concerned that the bill — H.B. 6848, An Act Protecting Victims Of Domestic Violence — would get stuck on the calendar as the legislative clock winds down.
Lori Jackson, then an employee of the state Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, was shot and killed last year just days before a court hearing on the restraining order she had filed against him. Her married name was Lori Gellatly. She was 32 when she was murdered. Her estranged husband, Scott Gellatly, was accused of the crime and also of shooting Jackson’s mother, Merry, four times.
“We’re just asking for some loopholes to be filled,” Kacey Mason, Jackson’s sister, said Saturday. “We’re not looking to infringe on anyone’s right to own a gun. We’re asking for responsible ownership.”
Karen Jarmoc, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said they were concerned that if the bill doesn’t get called on Saturday then it might not survive the last three days of the legislative session.
The gun lobby, which organized to oppose the 2013 post-Sandy Hook gun restrictions, has lobbied against the legislation.
The Republican caucus has not taken an official position on the bill, but a number of Republican lawmakers have opposed it.
Pat O’Neill, a spokesman for the House Republican caucus, said “some people feel very passionately about this and may choose to express those views.”
That means the bill will take time to debate in both the House and the Senate.
Jarmoc, a former lawmaker, said she’s concerned that if the bill isn’t called Saturday, it may not get called due to competing priorities.
“We’re committed to doing it, but we have to find the time,” House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Saturday.
He said it’s going to generate a lot of discussion from those who are opposed to it, so he’s just trying to budget the time for that to happen.
“We have to figure when we’re going to set aside the time to do that,” Sharkey said.
The bill, one of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s legislative priorities that he proposed on the campaign trail last year, is one of many that hangs in the balance as legislative leaders finalize a state budget behind closed doors.
Malloy’s Second Chance Society proposal, which addresses how non-violent criminals are treated, is another bill that could prompt lengthy discussion. The House debated a bill Saturday that addresses a number of emerging issues regarding hospital and physician acquisitions, facility fees, and electronic record sharing. The bill was amended and will go back to the Senate for approval.
Sharkey said they are close to finalizing a budget bill and expect to debate the two-year, $40.5 billion package Monday.
But as of midnight Saturday, the House adjourned before taking up H.B. 6848.
“It is good policy,” Jarmoc said. “It is going to save people’s lives.”
She said people have been spreading misinformation about the issue.
“We know that there are 14 domestic violence homicides in the state every year,” Jarmoc said. “We know that access to a firearm increases the chance of homicide by five times for a victim.”
The bill would shorten the time period within which a person must transfer, deliver, or surrender his or her firearms and ammunition if he or she becomes ineligible to possess them as a result of becoming subject to a civil restraining order, civil protection order, criminal protective order, or foreign order of protection. Under current law, the deadline is within two business days after the person becomes ineligible. Under the bill, the deadline is within 24 hours of becoming ineligible, including after receiving notice of an ex parte order.
Paid for by Stevenson4CT, Michele Berardo, Treasurer