The Pennsylvania House of Representatives debated for much of Wednesday morning before voting on a bill that will force domestic abusers to surrender their weapons sooner rather than later.
House Bill 2060 was sponsored by Central Bucks County State Rep. Marguerite Quinn, a Republican who is also running for state senate, and passed 131-62. Newtown-area state representatives Perry Warren, a Democrat from Newtown, and Helen Tai, a Democrat from Solebury, voted to move the bill forward.
The proposal would require those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and those with a final protection from abuse (PFA) orders against them to turn over all their firearms and ammunition to law enforcement, a licensed gun dealer, or their attorney within 24 hours. The aim of the legislation is to make it harder for domestic abusers to get their hands on potential weapons.
Under current law, those convicted on domestic violence-related offenses have 60 days to hand over their guns to relatives, friends, and neighbors who do not reside with the abuser.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) labeled the bill “neutral” while the Firearm Owners Against Crime group came out against the bill. They have called it the start of “anti-liberty, anti-firearm legislation the likes that have NEVER been seen in the Commonwealth before.” The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association supported the bill and congregated lawmakers for passing it.
“HB 2060 will quite literally save the lives of victims of domestic violence, as well as law enforcement officials who respond to domestic disturbances,” said Richard Goldinger, president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and Butler County District Attorney. “We need to de-escalate domestic violence situations to help save lives.”
At the start of Wednesday’s vote on the floor of the House in Harrisburg, Quinn told fellow lawmakers that “guns and domestic violence are a deadly mix.”
State representatives Jeff Pyle and Rick Saccone, both Republicans from western Pennsylvania, were opposed to the bill and voiced their concerns.
Pyle said during session that he was concerned PFA orders could be handed out easily to take citizens’ guns.
During his statements, Saccone stated that the proposal was a “gun control bill” that was instead disguised as one to protect domestic abuse victims. He also raised concerns about law enforcement having to fund secure housing for weapons that could be turned over.
“We should not help a victim by creating another,” Saccone said.
While many Democratic and Republican lawmakers voted to move the bill forward, the 62 other Democrats and Republican state representatives voted against the bill.
Quinn in the past, according to WHYY, said the bill is not about guns but keeping victims safe.
“I believe in the second amendment,” she said. “I believe that those people who feel that their gun rights are going to be restricted misunderstand, actually, what is in this bill.”
The proposal is headed to the Pennsylvania Senate next.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement that he plans to sign the bill if it hits his desk.
“I want to congratulate the many domestic violence and gun safety advocates, who have worked year after year just to get a vote on this commonsense reform. Those advocates and the victims who have told their stories have my thanks for their fortitude and commitment to make our communities safer for victims and families. I have long championed this reform and will sign this bill when it reaches my desk,” he said.
“While #HB2060 is a step in the right direction, it’s the bare minimum of what we should be doing to protect Pennsylvanians,” state senate candidate and Democratic former State Rep. Steve Santarsiero said in a Facebook post.
Quinn is running against Santarsiero for the 10th State Senate District that spans Tullytown, Falls Township, Morrisville, Newtown Township, Newtown Borough, Lower Makefield, Upper Makefield, Doylestown Borough, Doylestown Township and a number of other towns in the central and upper portions of Bucks County.