Bill Would Keep Guns From Abusive Boyfriends

Thomas MacMillan PhotoA woman in an abusive relationship is at her most vulnerable when she tells her boyfriend it’s over—especially if he owns a gun.

New legislation by U.S. Sens. Dick Blumenthal (pictured) and Chris Murphy would help protect women from retaliation, by preventing men with temporary restraining orders from having or buying guns.

Blumenthal and Murphy announced their plans Friday morning at a press conference on the third floor of police department headquarters on Union Avenue.

The bill, to be introduced in September, would be called the Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act. It’s designed to protect people—mostly women—who are in abusive relationships.

As it stands, people who are the subject of permanent restraining orders are not permitted to buy guns. But a gap in the law exists, Blumenthal said. People with temporary restraining orders are not, in most states, restricted from buying or owning guns.

Temporary restraining orders are issued when a woman in an abusive relationship applies for a permanent order against her abuser. As the law stands, when a woman files for such and order, the boyfriend or husband is notified. There follows a period of seven to 14 days, before a hearing on the application, during which the abusive and likely angry partner may choose to take revenge on the woman.

Blumenthal and Murphy’s new bill would make sure the abusive partner doesn’t have access to a gun during that period.

Of the women killed by a firearm in 2010, two-thirds of them were killed by an intimate partner, said Blumenthal. He called guns and domestic violence a “lethal combination.”

“We need to close this gaping loophole in the law,” he said.

Women with a gun in the house are 20 times more likely to be the victim of a domestic homicide, said Murphy (pictured).

“This legislation is simple and it makes sense,” he said. “This will make existing background checks work better.”

“Domestic violence homicide is predictable and therefore preventable,” said Karen Jarmoc (pictured), head of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Detective Manmeet Colon (pictured), of the New Haven police department’s Special Victims Unit, said the seven to 14 days after a woman files for a restraining order are “such a volatile period.”

With a new law, “we can prevent many tragedies from happening,” she said.

Asked about the bill’s chances in a Congress that has made very little progress on gun control, Blumenthal said, “I think the chances are good that it will reach the Senate floor.”

“Republicans are interested,” he said. “There is something about domestic violence that makes this issues different.”

“At some point, Republicans have to back up their talk with action,” said Murphy. “If they can’t support this, it’s an admission that they can’t support anything.”

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 2, 2013  3:56pm

Why does it have to be a Abusive Boyfriends.You also have Abusive Women.Focus all all gendes.r

posted by: Brutus2011 on August 2, 2013  4:46pm

3/5ths: Actually, my ex was physically violent with me. She didn’t hurt me but she tried a few times. And it was always over something small, like me asking why it took hours to go to the corner to get cigarettes with our new-born child alone with a brand new Dad—me!.

This is a tough one because so many women get hurt or worse and live in fear.

No one should have to endure that kind of mental anguish.

posted by: HhE on August 2, 2013  7:48pm

Restraining orders are great, IF the other person has impulse control, a stake in our society, and a sense of concequences:  you know, the sort of thing abusive, violent, controlling boy friend lack.

posted by: Josiah Brown on August 2, 2013  9:41pm

Thanks to the senators for their leadership on the often related issues of domestic and gun violence.

Regarding domestic (or intimate partner) violence, the information below might be of interest.

A National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in December 2011:

Among the findings:

  “One in 4 women has been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime.”

  “Almost 70 percent of female victims experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before the age of 25.”

  “About 1 in 7 men has experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.”

The NYPD’s work to counter domestic violence in NYC:

Yale Public Health researcher Jhumka Gupta’s work in the U.S. and beyond:

The work of the General Assembly and Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence:,0,862161.story

  “...175 people in Connecticut were killed by an ‘intimate partner’ between 2000 and 2011, based on statistics verified by the state. The group also estimates that 12 people were killed by their partners last year.”

On the eve of DV Awareness Month, a 9/30/13 event will be held in New Haven on “Psychological Effects of Domestic Violence”:—Center-for-Domestic-Violence-Services

“Men Who Give” to counter this problem locally:

Not just a private threat, this is a public challenge:

posted by: kevmo on August 3, 2013  5:33am

They should make heroin and meth illegal too. I think if they passed laws keeping these hard drugs off the streets it would make everyone safer. Oh, wait….. they already are illegal! I wonder how all the drugs keep getting on the street if there are laws to prevent them? It makes no sense.

posted by: TheWizard on August 3, 2013  8:46am

@ 3/5ths:  I know you think its fair to be gender neutral but its key to be sensitive to certain groups.  I hear they are considering changing the title to keeping guns from white, middle class, heterosexual boyfriends….with an exception for those who make contributions to certain campaigns.

Seriously, abuse is an epidemic in our society but spending time, money, and effort to legislate it is ridiculous.  Are we going to be happy if stabbings replace shootings? 

The guns are out there (a huge number on the black market and unregistered) and no laws are going to change that.  Maybe we address sources such as Hollywood and video game makers so that young people don’t see these behaviors glamorized repeatedly.  Should punching a girl in the face earn you bonus points?  Why do we stand for this?  Add some better enforcement and stiffer penalties and maybe we’ll start to make some progress.

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on August 3, 2013  11:38am

Though I understand the desire to protect women, the legislation simply seems unconstitutional and unenforceable.  It does not make sense or seem legal that a court could deny someone a constitutional right without due process of law.  Even if the deprivation of constitutional rights are merely temporary, due process should be required. 

Just as importantly, if a person already happens to own a gun prior to the issuance or petition for a restraining order - would they be required to go to the police and turn it over?  If so, this hardly seems a likely event.  And the punishment would only be additional jail time in the event a woman is harmed.

I’m no second amendment right zealot and believe that the amendment is generally wrongly interpreted in that the right to bear arms should be constrained to a well regulated militia.  But proposed legislation such as this only adds fire to the pro-gun rights advocates because it is virtually unenforceable without violating several constitutional rights.  Moreover, there is no guarantee of safety.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 3, 2013  10:05pm

The Hidden Side of Domestic Abuse: Men abused in intimate relationships

“Men too are victims and women too are perpetrators; neither sex has a monopoly of vice or virtue” (David Thomas, 1993)

The Jean Harris Case.Did you know she live in New Haven.

You do not need a gun.

Chinese Woman on Trial for Killing Man by Squeezing His Scrotum.

posted by: LadyERT on August 5, 2013  9:19am

Seriously? If a person had enough self control to not commit crimes, there would be no need to entertain this conversation. Does anyone really believe that a temporary restraining order and a very stern new “bill” will actually curb domestic violence?