(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act, a bill that would protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence by preventing an individual subject to a temporary restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm for the duration of the order. The bill was named after Lori Jackson, a Connecticut resident who was shot and killed by her husband after obtaining a temporary restraining order against him. Blumenthal was joined at a press conference today by cosponsors U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), and domestic violence advocates and survivors.
Blumenthal said, “When domestic abusers are most dangerous – at the height of their rage – current law is weakest in protecting victims like Lori Jackson from gun violence. Closing this gaping loophole will save lives when temporary restraining orders leave domestic abuse victims most vulnerable to violent partners with guns. The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Act would prevent the purchase and possession of a firearm by someone subject to a temporary restraining order, and expand federal law to protect individuals who have been victims of abuse by dating partners. The link between domestic violence and guns is a deadly one, and I urge my colleagues to pass this bill without delay because lives are literally on the line.”
Durbin said, “When it comes to the issue of stopping gun violence, there are some proposals that are viewed as controversial. This should not be one of them. Today’s legislation will close loopholes that allow abusive partners access to guns in the hours and days when tempers are at their highest following a domestic argument. I thank Senator Blumenthal for his leadership in this effort to bring federal law up to the standard of states like Illinois that already protect partners and victims during this critical time.”
Murphy said, “Lori Jackson’s death is just one tragic example of what can happen when guns get into the wrong hands at the wrong time. Sadly, Lori’s story is not unique and will be repeated over and over unless Congress acts to prevent violent abusers from getting guns at the worst possible moment. This legislation closes a dangerous loophole, and I challenge any of my colleagues in Congress to look their constituents in the eye and tell them that a domestic abuser under a court-ordered temporary restraining order should be permitted to purchase a new gun.”
Markey said, “The presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation creates a dangerous cocktail - mixing anger and fear, and escalating the potential for the deadliest of consequences. By requiring guns to be surrendered when an emergency or temporary restraining order is in place, the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act will expand much-needed protections for victims seeking help from abusive relationships. Massachusetts is one of a handful of states that has this commonsense requirement, and this legislation will ensure that every woman in America has the protection that Massachusetts currently provides.”
Current federal law protects domestic violence survivors from gun violence by preventing their abusers from purchasing or possessing a firearm – but only once the court has issued a permanent restraining order. This leaves survivors unprotected exactly when they are in the most danger: when a domestic abuser first learns his or her victim has left and only a temporary restraining order is in place. In addition, the current definition of ‘intimate partner’ used to prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence from purchasing or possessing a firearm includes spouses, former spouses, people with a child in common, and cohabitants. However, there are many survivors of dating violence who were never married, do not live with their abuser, and have no children. The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act would close these loopholes in federal law, thereby protecting millions of women and men nationwide.
“Abusers are often deadliest when victims are trying to leave their control,” said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of National Network to End Domestic Violence. “This bill will help close a dangerous loophole.”
“We commend all those who take a stand to help domestic violence and dating abuse victims get the protection they need,” said Katie Ray-Jones, President of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Dating Abuse Helpline. “Every day, our advocates at the National Domestic Violence Hotline hear accounts from survivors who are terrorized by their partners who threaten to shoot them, their children, their family members and even themselves if they try to leave. It is one of the reasons why many stay. With more protections in place, these victims have a better chance of getting out alive.”
“Senator Blumenthal has been a tireless advocate for commonsense policies that protect women from gun violence,” said retired combat veteran and NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “Gabby and I are grateful for Senator Blumenthal's commitment to passing laws that help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and make our communities safer. The people of Connecticut and Americans around the country stand to benefit.”
“The provisions in Senator Blumenthal’s bill will afford survivors greater protection at their most vulnerable moment: when they separate from the abuser,” said President of Legal Momentum Carol Robles-Roman, who praised Blumenthal for his unwavering commitment to the protection of survivors of violence. “If we’re serious about supporting survivors when they separate from their abusive partners, then we must make sure that we do all we can to reduce or eliminate any potential for reprisals by the abuser. This bill does that.”
“I applaud Senator Blumenthal for creating this evidence-based policy addressing domestic violence,” wrote Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “Far too many women are killed by their intimate partners with firearms. This legislation ensures that victims are protected when they are most vulnerable by ensuring that abusers cannot purchase firearms.”
A home that has a history of domestic violence and where an abuser owns a gun has a 20 times higher risk of homicide. In addition, more than 3 times as many women are murdered by guns used by their intimate partners than are murdered by strangers using a gun, knife, or any other weapon combined. Consequently, disarming individuals subject to restraining orders effectively decreases gun violence. In fact, the 17 states that passed laws prohibiting individuals subject to all restraining orders from purchasing or possessing a gun saw a 19 percent drop in overall intimate partner homicides. The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act would establish these laws nationwide.
In addition to Durbin, Murphy, and Markey, the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act has four additional cosponsors: U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). For more information about the bill, click here.