Consider this scenario: A woman ends an abusive relationship with a boyfriend. She successfully applies for a permanent restraining order against him, and, as the law stands, up to two weeks might pass before that application gets a hearing.

In the meantime, the woman receives only a temporary restraining order against her boyfriend, who is notified of her application and, with a proven history of violence, might seek revenge. In 33 states, that boyfriend is legally allowed to buy a gun before the restraining order on him becomes permanent.

All too often, we know how that story ends. In 2010, two-thirds of the women shot and killed in the United States were killed by an intimate partner, and the presence of guns in situations of domestic violence increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.

Common sense says that people under temporary restraining orders shouldn’t be able to buy guns in the brief period before those restraining orders become permanent. Why does the law still allow such purchases in a significant majority of states?

Democratic Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy are working to close that perplexing loophole. The Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act, which they plan to introduce next month, would impose a consistent standard across the nation to ban the sale of firearms to those with temporary restraining orders.

The New York Times reported in March that at least five women in Washington state have been shot and killed over the past decade by an intimate partner in that limbo period — and that’s just one state. This bill might have saved their lives, and it will save lives if it is passed.

Of course, even after Sandy Hook, which took place in these senators’ home state, Congress failed to approve any substantive gun-control legislation.

What Blumenthal and Murphy propose is a bill as palatable as it is implementable. It’s also a logical extension of existing laws, most notably the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which included the original ban on gun ownership for those with permanent restraining orders.

Seventeen states have extended those restrictions to include temporary orders. Gun-related homicides among intimate partners in those states have dropped by as much as 25 percent.


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