|By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, making it a fitting time for Pennsylvania to take an important step to protect victims. That step is House Bill 2060
, legislation which would take guns out of the hands of their abusers.
This week, the Senate overwhelmingly approved this landmark piece of legislation, which was first passed by the House in a bipartisan vote. The bill, which I co-sponsored, was sent to Gov. Tom Wolf, who has said he will sign the measure into law.
Under the bill, firearms relinquishment would take place in the case of a conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence when the defendant has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
In the case of a civil protection from abuse order (PFA), a judge would order the relinquishment of firearms after a hearing at which evidence is presented and both parties have a chance to speak, thereby ensuring that an individual’s due process rights are addressed. A final PFA order cannot exceed three years.
Let me be clear, this legislation will not impact any law-abiding citizen. Only individuals with a domestic violence conviction or a final PFA order would fall under the new provisions.
House Bill 2060 would make it mandatory that firearms are turned over to police, court officer, licensed firearms dealer or a commercial armory – and not a family member or friend. Relinquishment would only apply after due process is completed on a final PFA, not temporary orders.
On the criminal end, the bill would require that a defendant convicted of domestic violence must relinquish guns to a sheriff (or a third party) within 24 hours (rather than the current requirement of 60 days). In the case of a PFA, the guns could also be held by police, court officer, licensed firearms dealer or commercial armory.
I am in full agreement with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Marsico, who had this to say about the claims made by some opponents of the bill: “Lies are being spread about House Bill 2060, but anyone who has been a victim, or knows someone who has been a victim, of domestic violence knows these situations are volatile, dangerous and potentially deadly. We all have an obligation to do what we can to help protect these victims, and that is the goal of this legislation.
“Unfortunately, there are some who are claiming this bill is a ‘gun grab’ that violates our Second Amendment rights and allows firearms to be taken without due process. That is absolutely untrue.”
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office