New laws intended to better protect victims of domestic violence have been passed in Connecticut and Kentucky. Connecticut’s state legislature recently passed a bill that implements several critical measures aimed at protecting domestic violence victims from future harm. The law gets rid of a provision which exempted abusers in dating relationships from being arrested for domestic violence. Similarly the law allows people of any age, including minors, to get restraining orders against abusive partners. This is particularly good news for teenagers because until now minors could only obtain protective orders against adults. Lastly, the new law requires domestic violence offenders, who have been banned from possessing firearms, to surrender their weapons to police or federally-licensed firearms dealers. Shockingly, before this bill was passed, these abusers had the right to surrender firearms to friends or family members. This new law represents a major victory for domestic violence programs around the state. Susan DeLeon, the director of Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven stated, “This is going to prevent people from dying. It’s going to save lives.”
Similar efforts are being made in Kentucky. In late 2009, Amanda Ross was fatally shot by former state legislator Steve Nunn. Ross had obtained a protective order against Nunn six months before the murder. Her death prompted House Speaker Greg Stumbo to propose Amanda’s Law. Stumbo’s initial proposal would have allowed victims to request GPS monitoring of an abuser as soon as a domestic violence charge was filed in civil or criminal court. However, the State Senate modified the bill. Under the altered bill, an offender must commit a “substantial violation” of the protective order before GPS tracking can be requested. A “substantial violation” includes kidnapping, terroristic threatening, or assault. However, Amanda’s Law has had some positive effects. The law requires judges, if requested by the petitioner, to review criminal backgrounds of offenders to determine if they have a pattern of violent behavior. Since the law was enacted one year ago 25,843 background checks have been processed.
It will take more than legislation to end domestic violence, but improvements in the laws are necessary. What do you think a good domestic violence law looks like? How can you get involved to implement change? Leave us a comment!