Hartford, CT - A call by Governor Dannel P. Malloy to strengthen safety measures associated with gun ownership to include universal background checks as well as improved communication and reporting between state agencies, is recognized today as a formidable step forward by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc. (CCADV).
According to CCADV, of the eleven people killed last year in Connecticut as a result of intimate partner violence, nine of them were killed with a gun. The statewide organization, which serves as the leading voice for victims of domestic violence and those who serve them, reports that Connecticut experienced 146 intimate partner fatalities between 2000 and 2009. Guns were the number one cause of death in those fatalities, with access to firearms increasing the risk of intimate partner homicide more than five times.
While gun safety is and should be a broad topic, an important component of that conversation is the connection between guns and domestic violence fatalities, says Karen Jarmoc, Executive Director of CCADV. "In 2010, of all of the women killed by a firearm in the United States, almost two-thirds of them were killed by an intimate partner," said Jarmoc. "Keeping guns away from known abusers is a critical piece of any federal or state gun safety policy."
Aspects of the Governor's proposal, such as required background checks to be performed prior to the transfer of any firearm in any circumstance will serve to better protect victims who are at risk. Additional strong measures, like the expansion of eligibility requirements to exempt individuals that have been convicted of any offense involving a firearm, the use of force, or the threat of force, and other serious non-felony offenses are especially welcomed.
Nearly 58,000 victims of domestic violence reach out for help annually at the state's 18 domestic violence agencies. "We know that two of the top indicators of lethality are whether or not the abuser has ever used or threatened to use a weapon against the victim, or whether or not he possesses a gun," notes Jarmoc. "We feel that the changes that the Governor has offered today are significant and in great part necessary as they relate to keeping individuals safe who are at risk of being killed by an abuser."
Connecticut has prohibited possession of a firearm by individuals subject to a restraining or protective order issued by a court in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person (C.G.S. § 29-36f). As of 2011, individuals subject to those orders are also prohibited from transferring firearms to a legal representative and now instead can only sell them to a federally licensed firearms dealer or surrender them to the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection (C.G.S. § 29-36k). Unfortunately, loopholes allow abusers ample opportunity to access guns without a background check and CCADV applauds Governor Malloy for his efforts to strengthen Connecticut's gun control laws.