NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One lawmaker is hoping to bring awareness to domestic violence situations in Tennessee and perhaps prevent future domestic violence incidents.
Sen. Jon Lundberg (R—Bristol) has introduced SB0303, also known as the “Gabby Act.” According to Lundberg, the bill would establish a new statewide alert through the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for use when the TBI receives a report of a missing or endangered domestic abuse victim.
The origin of the bill is from a case out of Lundberg’s district. Michael Robinson was convicted of domestic violence against his wife, Kristina, and accused of child abuse, and he was under further investigation by the Department of Children’s Services and Bristol Police. He was released and subsequently killed Kristina and her daughter, Gabby, before taking his own life, he told News 2.
“This family feels, understandably, like this was senseless,” he said of the crime. “Can we make something out of it?”
According to the text of the bill, the TBI would issue a Purple Alert if it receives a report that “involves a missing or endangered domestic abuse victim.” The alert would utilize the same system as an AMBER Alert.
“Depending on the violent act that was committed against that individual and if that person was released and they haven’t checked in…it gives everyone an alert that they’re out,” Lundberg said.
Domestic violence is not solely a Tennessee problem, Lundberg added, but he was hopeful that this piece of legislation would help move the discussion at the very least, because there are still inherent challenges in the bill as it’s currently written.
“It would require the TBI to investigate each of these cases,” he said. “There are so many of those cases, unfortunately. You’d have to quintuple the staff. The challenge, as it’s written right now, is it would be extraordinarily expensive.”
Even if his bill doesn’t end up ultimately passing, Lundberg is optimistic that it sparks a greater conversation and raises awareness of domestic violence issues in Tennessee.
“It’s a good reminder to all of us that we do have to keep our eyes and ears open and watch for things. It’s an important topic,” he said.