WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are looking to pass a proposal aimed at protecting domestic violence survivors from gun violence.
The judiciary committee held a hearing on Wednesday on the bill, named in part after a Connecticut woman shot and killed by her estranged husband in 2014.
“It would have saved her life. It’s too late for Lori, but this law can and will make a difference in another family’s story," said Kacey Mason, the sister of Lori Jackson, a 32-year-old mother of two, shot and killed by her husband, Scott Gellatly, in Oxford, Connecticut 8 years ago.
On Wednesday, Mason testified before lawmakers in support of a bill named in part after her sister, called The Jackson-Elias Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act.
Nicolette Elias, an Oregon mother of two also shot and killed by an abusive ex-husband in 2014, before taking his own life.
“She was shot colleagues, in front of her children," U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said the bill would ensure that abusers who have temporary restraining orders cannot purchase or possess firearms. In addition, it would close boyfriend and stalking loopholes and create a grant program to help implement policies to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.
“Our bill would help protect survivors at the moment their abusers are most dangerous. When survivors leave abusive relationships and seek help from law enforcement and the courts—that is the moment of highest rage and lowest protection,” he said.
Jackson had a temporary restraining order against her husband who purchased a handgun out of state before shooting and killing her.
“This is why it’s so important to have this law on a federal level; this way abusers cannot evade the law by purchasing guns in another state,” Mason said.
Not all in attendance were on board with the proposal. Holly Sullivan, President of the gun-rights group, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said the bill falls short.
“There is a balance to be achieved where victims of violent crime can find peace and security while law-abiding gun owners are not unduly stripped of their means of defense and due process rights; however, the bill before you today is not the solution," she said.
Connecticut is one of several states that have similar laws on the books but it is not nationwide.
"What our bill is talking about is not taking away gun rights for law-abiding citizens. It’s about closing a dangerous loophole that has put at risk American families in tragedies in Oregon and Connecticut and around the land," Wyden said.
The bill must first go through votes in both the House and Senate, then to the president, before it can become law.
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