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Federal policy increases protection for domestic violence survivors in Connecticut

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Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU

Services that support survivors of domestic violence in Connecticut and the rest of the U.S. will be strengthened because of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act signed into law last weekend.

Connecticut lawmakers are reviewing how federal gun violence legislation signed into law last weekend will impact protections for survivors of domestic violence in their communities.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act allocations $750 million in funding for family mental health services and support after trauma. This will strengthen services that support survivors of domestic violence in Connecticut and the rest of the U.S., according to the Connecticut Coalition against Domestic Violence.

Meghan Scanlon, the group’s president and CEO, joined service providers in New London this week. She said the legislation prevents dating partners convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing guns

“So to be able to say you’re going to have these protections, regardless of whether you’re married or have children or living with a partner,” Scanlon said. “Recognizing that most instances of domestic violence happen through dating and they happen when women are primarily in their teenage to young, young adult years when dating is the most prevalent in their lives.”

Scanlon said the federal legislation comes at a crucial time after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, weakening abortion access nationwide. Survivors of domestic violence are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a gun.

The legislation amends the federal dating loophole making it more difficult for people convicted of domestic abuse to own a gun.

“If we hold out for the perfect, we’re going to lose the achievable,” New London Mayor Michael Passero said. “I think a lot of people are pinching themselves, believing that it could be possible at this time.”

Passero touted domestic violence support services in the city provided by the organization Safe Futures.

State Representative Anthony Nolan, D-New London, who serves as a city police officer, said the money is a good start, but more needs to be done.

“Though this is very great, it may not stop a lot of the shootings that we want to stop, especially our school shootings,” Nolan said. “So, I’m hoping that more funding will become available, federally and from the state, that will help provide the schools with some even greater mechanisms to try and help close that loophole when it comes to the protection we need in our schools.”

The legislation also aims to incentivize states to pass red flag laws, like those Connecticut has had since 1999, to keep guns out of the hands of people deemed to be a significant danger to themselves or others.

This law was signed over the weekend following mass shootings last month at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.