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Under stress? Keep guns

Amid all the legislation approved by Congress this session, few could be so egregious and ill-timed than a bill passed last week that would allow people who file for bankruptcy to keep their firearms instead of turn them over to creditors.

Why would Congress go out of its way to make sure individuals, under the stress of bankruptcy, keep their guns, of all things? The answer is obvious, of course: the incredible strength of the gun lobby.

Gun control advocates refer to several cases, including:

In June, a California couple died in a murder-suicide and their 3-year-old son was shot multiple times after they missed house payments in 2009 and had filed for bankruptcy.

A Florida couple facing bankruptcy in 2004 died in a murder-suicide shooting earlier this year while their two young daughters hid.

Another Florida family, a couple and their two 12- and 10-year-old children were shot to death in a murder-suicide last year, two months before a bankruptcy status hearing.

According to the National Violent Death Reporting System, financial problems precipitate more than 12 percent of firearm-related murder-suicides and suicides. That's not to say people facing bankruptcy must immediately surrender weapons, but it is absurd to exempt guns from the normal rules.

Disappointingly, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, was the only Connecticut congressman voting in favor of
H. R. 5827. If passed by the Senate, it would allow anyone filing for bankruptcy to keep a single rifle, shotgun or pistol, or any combination thereof, as long as their total value didn't exceed $3,000. Rep. Courtney says his intent is to clarify bankruptcy rules that vary across state lines.

We favor bankruptcy laws that permit debtors to keep their homes, cars and other personal possessions that might help people regain financial footing, but we find no justification for allowing them to hold on to weapons.

The Senate should reject this legislation.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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