Mensch: Senate Sends Bill Protecting Domestic Abuse Victims to Governor for Enactment

Harrisburg – The Senate today approved legislation supported by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24) removing firearms from those subject to Protection from Abuse orders or convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence more quickly, and eliminating third-party “safekeeping” of firearms with family or friends.

House Bill 2060 mirrors legislation in the state Senate that passed unanimously last spring. The measure is now set for enactment into law.

“Removing firearms from situations where a Protection from Abuse order is in effect, or a conviction for domestic violence crime has been reached, reduces the chances of violence for everyone involved, including law enforcement,” Mensch said.

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.

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.

“Clearly, we can do more to protect victims of domestic violence while at the same time protecting constitutional rights, and I believe this bill strikes the right balance,” said Mensch.

For more information on Senator Mensch’s legislation, visit www.senatormensch.com.  State updates can also be found on Senator Mensch’s Facebook at www.facebook.com/senatormensch, or Twitter @SenatorMensch

 

CONTACT: Mark Fetzko mfetzko@pasen.gov (717) 787-3110