The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously approved a bill that would force those convicted of a crime of domestic violence to turn in their firearms quicker than under the current law and requires those with a Protection From Abuse Order to immediately relinquish their firearms and ammunition.
The Senate’s 50-0 vote on SB-501 Wednesday sends the bill to the House, if approved, Governor Wolf, a proponent of the Bill, will most likely sign it into law.
Under the bill, a person convicted of a domestic violence crime would have 48 hours to give up his or her firearms to a law enforcement agency, a federally licensed firearms dealer, or to their attorney. Currently those convicted of a crime of domestic violence have 60 days to relinquish their firearms and have the option to relinquish the firearms to a relative, friend or neighbor.
The Bill also requires that anyone who has a Final Protection From Abuse Order, commonly referred to as a PFA, will have to relinquish their firearms within 24 hours. The current PFA law leaves the relinquishment of firearms to a judge’s discretion.
The significance of this discretion is that this is a term that could be negotiated between the parties to a PFA action. As it stands, many PFA cases are resolved by agreement and many times firearms are an issue in the negotiations. For instance, if the alleged abuser is a hunter, often times an agreement can be reached to enter into the PFA Order while allowing the hunter to keep his or her rifles. Under this Bill that would no longer be permitted and could lead to more hearings and less agreements.
Finally, the Bill would make a violation of the new law a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in prison.
This is just a bill at the moment but is very likely to become law. In any case where firearms are an issue it is vital that you have an attorney that is current on firearm laws, especially since they are continually developing.
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