The state Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill on risk protection orders and disqualifiers for firearm permits. The bill would expand Connecticut’s gun seizure law to allow relatives and medical professionals to ask judges to order people’s guns to be taken away from them.
Connecticut’s 1999 “red flag” law was the first in the country to allow judges to order someone’s guns seized upon evidence and probable cause they are a danger to themselves or others. It allows only prosecutors and police to ask a judge to issue a “risk warrant” to temporarily seize a person’s guns, after an investigation and if they believe there is probable cause.
The bill also eliminates the one-year limit on gun seizure orders, instead allowing them to remain in effect until the person whose guns were seized can prove they are no longer a danger to themselves or others.
Connecticut’s red flag law has been used more than 2,000 times in the state and was the foundation for similar laws in Washington, D.C. and 19 states.
Several people who testified told stories of loved ones dying from gun violence. Jennifer Lawlor, of Bethel, said her 25-year-old daughter, Emily Todd, was shot to death in 2018 by a man she had known for only 18 days, after having told a Bridgeport police dispatcher during a 911 call a week earlier that he was threatening to kill himself and she believed he had a gun. Todd, who was found shot to death in Bridgeport, also told authorities she feared Brandon Roberts would kill her for talking to the police, Lawlor said. She blamed police for not doing enough to find Roberts and seize his guns before her daughter was killed.
“We simply can no longer have a system that’s dependent solely on the response of a 911 dispatcher and a police department as the only resource someone has when they’re in a crisis,” Lawlor said.
“Family members are often the first to recognize when their loved one is in crisis, so it is crucial they have a way to directly petition the court to temporarily remove guns from those who could be a risk to themselves or others.”