Rep. Staneski: Domestic violence bill provides false security
(Editor’s note: Next week’s Bulletin, Oct. 27, will be the last edition in which endorsement letters regarding the upcoming election will be published.)
A recent letter asks me why I opposed HB5054. Given the seriousness of the matter, please let me answer that question.
The letter refers to “gun violence” several times, but HB5054 is not about gun violence. It is about protecting threatened partners, the vast majority of whom are women. To this end, it actually makes them less safe.
HB5054 allows alleged abusers who have civil restraining orders issued against them 24 hours before they must relinquish their firearms. The most dangerous time for a partner who has taken out a restraining order is the first day, when tensions are highest and the impulse to react is greatest.
HB5054 does not require restraining orders to be delivered in person, but allows them to be stapled to the door, leaving no way for threatened partners or courts to know if the orders have been received.
HB5054 does not involve the police and courts at the right time: the beginning. We should use the criminal enforcement processes that are already in place to remove firearms from alleged abusers immediately and at any time of day, not just during normal court hours. We should also provide proper oversight to ensure against false claims that could disarm victims who fear for their own safety.
I supported an alternative bill, HB5597, which would have provided immediate protection through the existing risk-warrant process. I also supported several amendments to HB5054 in an effort to truly make it “an act protecting victims of domestic violence.” They were:
• Require orders to be served in person to the respondent.
• Replace the order with a risk-warrant filing that would provide immediate and enforceable relinquishment of firearms through the proper channels.
• Shrink the time between the issuance of an order and hearing.
HB5054, despite its title, provides false security by putting a civil order, a piece of paper, between the victim and abuser, and leaves a window for retaliation. Victims of domestic violence and their families deserve more.
— Pam Staneski, State Representative, 119th District, Milford