During a public hearing this week of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, State Representative Rob Sampson (R-80) expressed skepticism at a proposal advanced by the Malloy administration which would require a person to turn over any firearms they possess to either a licensed firearms dealer or the police if a temporary restraining order is filed against them. Under the bill, no hearing is required for the firearms surrender to take place.
The bill, HB 5054, An Act Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence, purports to protect potential victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, Sampson says, this legislation could result in fewer protections to victims or potential victims of domestic violence, while removing essential due process protections to owners of firearms.
“This is a genuinely serious issue but despite the title, this bill is really about gun control and not helping the victims of domestic violence” said Rep. Sampson, a member of the Judiciary Committee. “This bill doesn’t do anything to help victims or would-be victims of domestic violence at all. Rather, it steers them away from the more appropriate remedy of a risk warrant which can provide more effective and immediate protection to them, while creating a scenario where an abuser could actually disarm his victim for days or even months through filing a fraudulent claim. The proposal is seriously flawed.”
Under current law, someone who fears for their safety can go to the police and seek a risk warrant against someone based on probable cause if they feel threatened. Sampson noted that “The risk warrant statute already exists and is the proper remedy as it satisfies all of the Governor’s supposed concerns and still provides for constitutional protections for all citizens. When someone is genuinely fearful, they contact the police and not the court. There is an attempt here to blur the lines between a civil and criminal issues and I fear it will lead to more confusion and less safety for Connecticut residents all in a quest for more gun control. “
Sampson said that in the current form, he would oppose the bill if it comes before the Judiciary Committee for a vote. This session of the Connecticut General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn at midnight, Wednesday, May 4th, 2016.
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