Domestic violence survivor pleads for the closing of a ‘legal loophole’

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Over the past decade, Connecticut has averaged 12 domestic violence murders per year, many committed with firearms.

Connecticut has a so-called ‘red flag’ law that allows the police to seize the firearms from someone who is the subject of a ‘temporary restraining order,’ but it is not federal law, so a loophole remains. Someone can drive to a nearby state and still legally purchase a firearm.

The U.S. House has passed this ‘red flag’ weapons seizure law as part of the renewal of the ‘Violence Against Women Act,’ but it is now stalled in the U.S. Senate. One Connecticut woman is doing her best to see that it is passed.

Merry Jackson, a mother of the victim of domestic violence, told News 8 about her efforts to see the ‘red flag’ law passed. In speaking about her daughter, Lori, Merry had to pause to regain her composure.

“As a mom who lost a daughter…it affects me…if we could save a life it would mean so much to me because, you don’t realize what a family goes through.”

– Merry Jackson, mother of domestic violence victim

5 years ago, Merry’s daughter, Lori (32), was shot and killed by her husband, Scott Gellatly, at Merry’s home in Oxford. Merry was also severely wounded with the gun that domestic violence experts say Gallatly should never have been able to buy.

Gellatly, who is now 50-years-old, is serving a 45-year prison term.

Back in 2014, Lori had filed for a restraining order and fled her home. It was the day before Lori’s restraining order hearing that Gellatly shot Lori with a gun legally obtained because, at the time, a permanent restraining order was not in place. A legal loophole.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said of the legal loophole, “The law should provide safety for a woman even when that protective order is temporary, and right now it fails to do so.”

Merry joined Senator Blumenthal Monday as he reintroduced the ‘Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act’ to close that loophole in federal law. It’s already law in Connecticut.

Karen Jarmoc, the Executive Director of the ‘Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence’ is not so confident about the new law, saying, “If you could just go to the state of Rhode Island, less than two hours away, and buy a weapon, it’s really not offering the spectrum of protection that we would view as so critical.”

Merry Jackson adding that the effort means a lot to her and families who have survived domestic violence: “It doesn’t go away, it’s with you forever…but if you could save another family, a couple of kids from not losing their mom, it would mean the world to me.”

Scott Wilson, the President of the ‘Connecticut Citizen’s Defense League’ rebutting the effort, citing the 14th Amendment.

“It is very unfortunate that Senator Blumenthal gives little consideration to any real due process under the 14th Amendment. Presumption of innocence is a pillar of freedom, and individuals should at least have a hearing before legal property is seized absent any wrongdoing.

Law enforcement already have tools to legally seize firearms if there is any record of threatening, harassment or direct violence regarding a person of concern by simply arresting them.”

– Scott Wilson, President of the Connecticut Citizen’s Defense League

Wilson’s statement concluded, “A Woman that chooses to arm herself may also be left defenseless as a result of a gun seizure if a dangerous spouse files an order of this type against her.”

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