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Commentary and Opinion Jan 17, 2013 - 10:36:29 AM

CCADV: Domestic Violence important part of gun safety debate

By CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence

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Hartford, CT - Of the ten people killed last year in Connecticut as a result of intimate partner violence, eight of them were killed with a gun. On Wednesday, President Obama outlined his proposals for federal gun regulation policies, including criminal background checks for all gun sales, including private sales. 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.

According to the 2011 report of the CT Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee, Connecticut experienced 146 intimate partner fatalities between 2000 and 2009. Guns were the number one cause of death in those fatalities.

"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 Karen Jarmoc, Executive Director, CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "Keeping guns away from known abusers is a critical piece of any federal or state gun safety policy."

Research by renowned national expert, Dr. Jacqueline Campbell, demonstrates that access to firearms increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than five times compared to instances where there are no weapons. Those abusers who possess guns also tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners.

In Connecticut, our Lethality Assessment Program (one of ten pilot sites in the nation) seeks to identify those victims who are most at risk for increased danger or possible fatality. 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.

"It is clear that gun violence, or the threat of gun violence, is a huge factor in the continued effort to combat domestic violence throughout our cities and towns," said Chief Kevin Hale of the Ansonia Police Department. "The only way to truly overcome this threat is to make sure that abusers have zero access to firearms, period. This issue must be a major part of any official conversation on gun control."

In 2011, legislation resulting from the Speakers Task Force on Domestic Violence chaired by State Representative Mae Flexer (D-Killingly) created important changes in our state's gun laws. Connecticut now prohibits 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). 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).

Said Representative Flexer, "I'm proud of the work we have done to protect victims of domestic violence, but as we move forward, there's more work to be done and it's important that the voices of domestic violence victims are heard in this national debate on gun safety."

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