Senator Richard Blumenthal and Domestic Violence Prevention used the “Memorial of the Lost” in West Hartford as the backdrop for a press conference applauding the recently passed Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
By Ronni Newton
While the bipartisan Safer Communities Act passed last week and signed by President Joe Biden isn’t perfect, it’s a major step in the right direction, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said Monday. ) in West Hartford as he stood in the doorway of St. James’s Episcopal Church, with the “Memorial of the Lost” in the background.
“This step is a major breakthrough,” Blumenthal said, after decades of national inaction on gun control legislation. Two-thirds of all intimate partner homicides — not just between married or formerly married couples — occur with firearms, and this bipartisan Safer Communities Act makes it harder for those who have been convicted of domestic violence from having a firearm in their possession. Blumenthal and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) were among those who drafted the legislation.
“This domestic violence must stop,” he said. The measure isn’t perfect, but it narrows “the boyfriend loophole,” he said, “and it will save lives.”
The legislation includes a “red flag provision” that will provide $750 million for crisis intervention to keep guns out of the hands of those a court has determined to be a danger to themselves or others. The bill also provides additional funding for family mental health services and support after traumatic events.
“It’s a step forward, not everything we wanted…but it’s progress. Progress is better than nothing…especially on closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’,” said Blumenthal said.In NCIS’s background check system, domestic abusers will be included even if they were not married or have children with the victim.
Connecticut has already closed the boyfriend loophole and implemented red flag laws, which Blumenthal says have proven effective. “We can save lives and learn from Connecticut’s experience because Connecticut has led the way with this provision and with red flag laws.”
Meghan Scanlon, president and CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, also said the legislation would make victims and survivors safer.
“We have already seen that this type of legislation that closes the dating loophole actually saves lives,” she said.
“Every day as advocates we stand up and we can choose to do nothing or do something and this legislation has finally sent the message to victims and survivors not just in Connecticut but across the country that their voices have been heard, that there will be protections in place,” Scanlon said.
Intimate partner violence occurs in romantic relationships, even among teenagers, she said, and can continue into adulthood. “We’ve been fortunate in Connecticut to see a lot of these laws actually work. We have totally closed the dating loophole here. This legislation partially shuts it down nationally…we’ve seen it saves lives,” Scanlon said.
“The biggest piece is that one in four women will be affected by this,” she said, because the risk of domestic violence is high, higher than breast cancer and diabetes. “It’s not just about solving a safety issue, it’s about solving a public health crisis that we have in this country.”
Katherine Verano, CEO of Safe Futures Connecticut, added that we are very happy to be in a progressive state like Connecticut.
“These shirts are physical symbols,” Blumenthal said of the Memorial of the Lost. “But the victims are all over Connecticut. … No place is safe from domestic violence.
The Reverend Bob Hooper, rector of St. James’s, said the “Memorial of the Lost,” which will spend two weeks in West Hartford before traveling to other Episcopal churches in the area, is a memorial to those who have been victims of armed violence. in Connecticut this year.
Forty-one white t-shirts bearing the names, ages and dates of death of the victims are planted on the lawn of the church, reminiscent of tombstones. Hooper said that starting Monday, five more t-shirts with the victims’ names are to be added by the end of this month.
Members of the St. James Episcopal Church Youth Group were among those who created the memorial during a retreat at Camp Washington in Lakeside, CT. Several members of the youth group attended the press conference on Monday.
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