HARRISBURG – Seeking to help protect victims of domestic violence, Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks) thanked a bipartisan coalition of her colleagues for voting in favor of legislation she authored to take firearms out of the hands of convicted abusers.
“I was raised in a household that respects the Second Amendment, and I continue to believe in that constitutional right, but this legislation is about those who have been convicted of a crime of domestic violence and have proven they are a danger,” said Quinn. “This legislation would further protect domestic violence victims and give them greater peace of mind that their convicted abuser will not have easy access to their firearms. This legislation will not impact any law-abiding citizen.”
Quinn’s House Bill 2060
, which mirrors legislation in the state Senate that passed unanimously this spring, was endorsed by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 21-6 and out of the House Appropriations Committee by a vote of 35-0 in June. The final vote of the full House on Wednesday was 131-62.
“I am indebted to all of the advocates who have worked with me over the summer to clarify some of the provisions within this bill, to answer questions and to convince more of my colleagues that this is the right thing to do,” Quinn 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.
“Despite claims to the contrary, this legislation does not take firearms away from responsible gun owners,” Quinn explained. “The legislation will, when enacted, take firearms out of the hands of those who have received due process, and are deemed by the court to be violent and a threat.”
House Bill 2060 addresses both civil and criminal law relative to the Protection From Abuse Act. Under present law, when a judge makes a final order in a PFA hearing, he/she has discretion whether to order the defendant’s firearms to be turned over to the sheriff or to a third party.
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, he/she 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.
The bill now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
Representative Marguerite Quinn
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton