Domestic Violence
12:12 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Blumenthal Proposal Aims to Fix Loophole in Restraining Order Law

Oxford resident Lori Jackson was gunned down by her estranged husband, Scott Gellatly, while he was under a temporary restraining order.
Oxford resident Lori Jackson was gunned down by her estranged husband, Scott Gellatly, while he was under a temporary restraining order.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal has introduced legislation aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence who obtain a temporary restraining order against their abuser.

The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act is named in honor of Oxford resident Lori Jackson, who was gunned down by her estranged husband last May while he was under a temporary restraining order.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said in a speech on the Senate floor that the law failed Lori Jackson. "The temporary restraining order against Lori's husband was completely ineffective, powerless to prevent him from using that gun against her to kill her," he said.

Current law prevents "intimate partners" -- someone who either lives with, is married to, or has a child with the victim -- who are subject to a permanent restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm. The law leaves victims vulnerable, however, in the days or weeks that their abuser is under a temporary restraining order.

Domestic violence experts have known for years that abusers are the most violent in the hours and days after a spouse has left the relationship, and they realize they have been issued a temporary restraining order. "The moment of danger in a relationship is when one partner tells another she's leaving," Blumenthal said. "That is the moment of maximum rage. That is the moment of greatest danger. That is the moment of uncontrollable wrath, and that is when the law is at its weakest."

Blumenthal's bill would fix the loophole in current law by expanding the ban on firearms to include people under a temporary restraining order. The bill would also broaden the definition of "intimate partner" to include other people who may be threatening the victim, like someone who may be dating or stalking the victim.