A bill that is intended to protect domestic violence victims from abusers with firearms has been signed into law.
During a ceremony in Harrisburg on Wednesday afternoon, House Bill 2060 was signed into law by Gov. Democratic Tom Wolf. It was sponsored by Central Bucks County Republican State Rep. Marguerite Quinn and supported by Newtown-area state representatives Perry Warren, a Democrat from Newtown, and Helen Tai, a Democrat from Solebury. Area Republican state senators Tommy Tomlinson and Chuck McIlhinney also voted in favor of the bill.
The new law will 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.
Previously, those convicted on domestic violence-related offenses had 60 days to hand over their guns to relatives, friends, and neighbors who do not reside with the abuser.
The law will also allow time served by the domestic abuser to not count against the 90 period covered by a temporary PFA.
Despite what critics have said, the rules relating to the permanent removal of weapons only apply to those who have been issued a final protection from abuse order, which can go to a contested hearing, or a conviction for misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.
Lawmakers have said the goal of the legislation is to make it harder for domestic abusers to get their hands on potential weapons.
“Domestic violence is a scourge on our society and this bill and its reforms will go a long way to protect victims, hold abusers accountable and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” Wolf said. “I want to personally thank the hundreds of advocates and everyday citizens who made their voices heard and got this bill to my desk. Pennsylvania did the right thing with House Bill 2060 to protect victims of domestic violence.
As the bill moved through the House, the National Rifle Association (NRA) labeled the bill “neutral” while the Firearm Owners Against Crime group came out against the bill. The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and a number of gun law reform groups supported the bill.