Perloe: HB5054 Domestic Violence Bill Will Close Temporary Restraining Order Loophole, Save Lives

To the Editor:

Ebony’s estranged boyfriend came to the bingo parlor where she was hanging out. He said, “If I can’t have her, you can’t have her either,” then shot Ebony to death. He was
arrested just 10 days earlier for severely beating Ebony. He had a prior conviction for misdemeanor domestic violence. But under South Carolina law he was still legally allowed to own firearms.

Connecticut has its own illogical gun law. An alleged abuser subject to a temporary restraining order (TRO) is allowed to possess guns even though the legal standard for issuing a TRO is that the victim faces “immediate and present physical harm.” During 2015 there were more than 40,000 reported incidents of domestic violence in Connecticut.

In 2014 the TRO loophole arguably cost Lori Jackson of Oxford, CT her life. The day before the hearing to consider making her TRO permanent Lori’s estranged husband shot and killed her.

Opponents claim abusers will find other ways to kill their partners. Perhaps. But the fact is domestic assaults with guns are 12 times more likely to result in death than when other weapons are used.

Governor Malloy understands this. He introduced a bill to close the TRO loophole: HB5054, An Act to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence. The bill has been cleared to goto the General Assembly for a vote, which could come any day.

Last month Americans for Responsible Solutions commissioned a survey of CT voters:

86 percent of us believe abusers under restraining orders, temporary or permanent, should not have access to guns. Sadly, most Republican and some Democratic lawmakers believe otherwise.

If you believe abusers should not have guns please contact your state senator and representative to vote yes on HB5054. CT Against Gun Violence has made it easy to contact legislators at bit.ly/CT86percent-LTE. If you don’t make your position known, the bill may not pass. Abused women may die.

Critics of the bill argue it violates due process because the abuser’s firearms have to be relinquished prior to a judicial hearing (which occurs within 14 days of serving the TRO).

These critics disregard unambiguous case law. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence thoroughly researched this topic: due process requires either a pre-deprivation hearing or four procedural safeguards: (1) participation by a judicial officer, (2) a prompt post-deprivation hearing, (3) verified petitions or affidavits containing detailed allegations based on personal knowledge and (4) risk of immediate and irreparable harm. HB5054 includes all four procedural safeguards.

The Law Center couldn’t find one case where a court expressed reservations regarding the Second Amendment. The CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence documented 20 states with some ex-parte provision for restricting gun ownership by domestic abusers. Not a single one has been overturned.

HB5054 will disarm abusers quickly and within established legal safeguards. Tell your legislators you’re one of the #CT86percent who believe domestic abusers should not have firearms.

Jonathan Perloe
Director of Communications, CT Against Gun Violence
Leader, Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence

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