Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Democratic lawmakers welcomed former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to the state Capitol Tuesday and used her visit as an opportunity to discuss their support for a bill that would remove firearms from the subject of a temporary restraining order.
Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011, founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun violence prevention organization. This is her second trip to Connecticut to promote “common sense” solutions to gun violence.
“Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women,” Giffords said Tuesday. “That makes gun violence a women’s issue – for mothers, for families, for me and you.”
Proponents of the Connecticut bill say it will protect domestic violence victims because it forces the subject of a temporary restraining order to get rid of their firearm by transferring it to police or a federally licensed firearm dealer within 24 hours of being served.
It’s “a common sense extension” of a package of gun control legislation passed two years ago, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Tuesday.
However, one Republican lawmaker believes there’s already a more effective law on the books.
Rep. Arthur O’Neill, R-Southbury, said the risk warrant law that’s been on the books for 15 years would be more effective in making sure the firearms are seized from a subject without violating the due process rights of the gun owner. Under the risk warrant law a victim can report to police that their lover is an immediate threat and has access to guns and a judge can sign a warrant that allows the firearms or ammunition to be seized.
O’Neill said it could happen in as little as an hour, while the law being proposed allows for the transfer to happen within 24 hours. He said the danger of having two similar laws on the books is that people will think the more recent one has to be used and the public may not know the current law can be used for domestic violence victims.
Connecticut Against Domestic Violence says the risk warrant law O’Neill helped write is a “valuable tool for victims of domestic violence, but it should not be the only tool.”
They said a judge may decide not to sign the warrant. Also the law requires the involvement of law enforcement, which is “not always safe or in the best interest of the victim.”
Sharkey said the current law is “helpful,” but “it’s not immediate and it won’t address a lot of the problems that we think this bill does.”
Malloy said the arguments regarding the current law are a “smokescreen.”
“It is a typical playbook smokescreen of the NRA and other opponents,” Malloy said. “…The reality is this does it better.”
Connecticut Citizens Defense League President Scott Wilson said the legislation violates the rights of law abiding gun owners.
“The most troubling aspect of the legislative proposal by the Governor is the complete elimination of ‘due process’ for individuals that have a temporary restraining order filed against them,” Wilson said Tuesday in a statement. “Legally owned firearms would be confiscated with no hearing until a date after the guns are seized.”
Malloy said it doesn’t violate due process. He said taking the gun away within 24 hours and having a hearing later is no different than “taking away the keys from a drunk who’s about to get into a car. And nobody says that’s a violation of that person’s due process rights.”