Consider the following scenario: A woman ends an abusive relationship with a boyfriend. She successfully applies for a permanent restraining order against him, and, as the law stands, a period of one to two weeks passes before that application gets a hearing. In the meantime, the woman receives only a temporary restraining order against her boyfriend, who is notified of her application and, with a proven history of violence, might seek revenge. In 33 states, that boyfriend is legally allowed to buy a firearm before the restraining order on him becomes permanent.
All too often, we know how that story ends. In 2010, two-thirds of the women shot and killed in the United States were killed by an intimate partner, and the presence of guns in situations of domestic violence increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.
Connecticut’s senators, Richard Blumenthal, D, and Chris Murphy, D, are working to close that perplexing loophole. The Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act, which they plan to introduce next month, would impose a consistent standard across the nation to ban the sale of firearms to those with temporary restraining orders. What Blumenthal and Murphy propose is a bill as palatable as it is implementable. It’s also a logical extension of laws Congress has already passed, most notably the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
Seventeen states have extended those restrictions to include temporary orders. Research has shown that gun-related homicides among intimate partners in those states have dropped by as much as 25 percent.