Senate Sends Bill Protecting Domestic Abuse Victims to Governor for Enactment

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate today approved legislation supported by Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34) that protects victims of domestic violence by bringing consistency to the process by which someone is required to relinquish a firearm due to a domestic violence conviction or judge’s order.

“This legislation goes a long way to protect victims of domestic violence and does not take firearms away from responsible owners,” Senator Corman said. “The legislation only takes firearms out of the hands of those who have been through a hearing process or have been convicted, and are deemed by the court to be violent and a threat. By disarming convicted abusers and safely securing firearms before there are fatal consequences, this bill will save lives.”

House Bill 2060 mirrors legislation in the state Senate that passed unanimously last spring. The measure is now set for enactment into law. Video of Senator Corman’s remarks on the bill are available here.

Under House Bill 2060, 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 order, which would be a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order, a judge would order the relinquishment of firearms after a hearing at which evidence is presented and both parties have a chance to speak. A final PFA order cannot exceed three years.

“This legislation will save lives by preventing incidents of domestic violence from escalating,” Senator Corman said. “It provides a safer setting for law enforcement, who must wade into an unstable setting.  Domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous calls law enforcement officers answer – 22 percent of law enforcement fatalities are domestic-violence related.”

Currently, the third party who would be in possession of the firearms during the duration of the PFA can be a friend or family member of the defendant. House Bill 2060 would change the law and make it mandatory that firearms are relinquished to law enforcement, to an officer of the court, to a licensed firearms dealer or to a commercial armory — and not a family member or friend. Relinquishment would only apply after due process is complete on a final PFA, not temporary orders.

      House Bill 2060 would also change requirements when a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Currently, the defendant must relinquish firearms to a sheriff (or a third party) within 60 days.     

House Bill 2060 would make the relinquishment period 24 hours, and defines the entities eligible to hold the firearms, such as law enforcement, an officer of the court, a licensed firearms dealer or a commercial armory.