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Saturday, June 23 News

Letters: Need for female leadership is clear, Probate Courts play a critical role in gun safety

To the Editor:

Thursday, March 8, was International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is also a day to spark conversation about how we still have a way to go to ensure equality among all.

Girl Scouts of Connecticut is part of a sisterhood of 2.6 million strong across the globe. In Connecticut, we have nearly 30,000 girls and over 13,000 adults who believe in the power of every girl and young woman. On March 12, Girl Scouts will be 106 years young — 106 years of being the leading expert on girls. On March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Ga., when Juliette Gordon Low organized the very first Girl Scout troop, and every year since, we’ve honored her vision and legacy to build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.

When Low founded Girl Scouts, the role of women in this country was on the brink of dramatic change. Women did not have the right to vote yet, and organizations like the General Federation of Women and the National Association of Colored Women’s clubs were working to lead women into the next century. There were also countless efforts of reform regarding race, immigration and civil rights. This was the state of our world when Low founded Girl Scouts; she was headstrong in giving every girl the opportunity to be a Girl Scout — something we continue to hold to this very day.

Girl Scouts is, and remains, the one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. From advocating for pay equity and fair treatment of women to bridging the gender gap in STEM and civil service, Girl Scouts are bold visionaries and confident leaders.

The need for female leadership has never been clearer or more urgent than today, and Girl Scouts has the expertise to give girls and young women the tools they need to change the world. Happy International Women’s Day to all of the barrier-breaking, glass-shattering girls and women in Connecticut and across the globe.

Mary Barneby

Girl Scouts of Connecticut CEO

To the Editor:

We are fortunate in Connecticut to have a robust system of laws that bar the mentally ill from possessing guns. Connecticut’s Probate Courts play a critical role in keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Connecticut law requires Probate Courts, in conjunction with the Department of Public Safety, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Judicial Department to coordinate compliance with federal laws that bar the mentally ill from purchasing guns.

Probate Courts are often the first forum where a person is adjudicated to be mentally ill. Probate Courts are empowered to grant conservatorships that lead to commitment of a mentally ill person to a psychiatric hospital. Civil commitment is based on the opinion of physicians and psychologists who examine the mentally ill person.

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Civil commitments may be done on an involuntary basis, where the mentally ill person lacks awareness of his or her illness. They may also be done on an emergency basis, when a physician concludes a patient’s psychiatric disabilities present an immediate threat to himself and/or others and that person is in need of immediate care and admission to a psychiatric hospital.

Once committed, the Probate Court is the forum where the commitment may be litigated, including whether it is terminated or extended.

The final report of the Sandy Hook shootings issued by the State’s Attorney Office concluded the killer, Adam Lanza, had “significant mental health issues that affected his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others, even those to whom he should have been close.”

Undoubtedly had an application been filed with the local Probate Court seeking appointment of a conservator and commitment to a psychiatric hospital, it would have been granted.

Lanza would have been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution for diagnosis and treatment. He would have remained hospitalized until found stable enough to be discharged. He would have remained under the supervision of a conservator and subject to the supervision of the Probate Court until it was determined he was no longer a risk to himself or others.

Connecticut’s Probate Courts maintain a database for use by state and federal authorities to check the mental health backgrounds of citizens who seek to buy or own firearms. The database, called the Mental Health Adjudication Repository, lists the names of individuals who have had their firearms eligibility rights terminated due to a mental health adjudication in the Probate Courts.

Having been determined to be mentally incompetent, Lanza’s name would have been listed in this database, as well as federal databases.

He would never have owned a gun.

Patrick J. Filan

Fairfield

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