– Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks) today voiced her commitment to continue fighting for a vote on her legislation, House Bill 2060
, that seeks to better protect domestic violence victims and their families at a press event at the Bucks County Administrative Building.
She was joined by other interested groups who support this commonsense legislation, including Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub; noted local attorney Jess Pritchard, who has extensive experience in Protection From Abuse (PFA) cases; and representatives from the Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA), Moms Demand Action and the Bucks County Coalition of Women.
“I was extremely disappointed that the House recessed and left Harrisburg this week without voting on this important legislation to better protect victims of domestic violence,” Quinn said. “Unfortunately, special interests chose to put forth misinformation at the last minute even after the hard work of experts in the field, legislators and residents from across the state who negotiated in good faith to craft commonsense legislation.”
Quinn explained that, under the bill, 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 PFA, a judge would order the relinquishment of firearms after a hearing at which evidence is presented and both parties have a chance to speak.
“Despite claims to the contrary, this legislation does not take firearms away from responsible gun owners,” Quinn added. “It 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 to their family.”
“We see repeat plaintiffs. We see repeat defendants. People are living in fear of someone they once loved,” said Pritchard.
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 will 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. The time frame for relinquishment will stay the same as present law, which is 24 hours.
“I’d like to thank Marguerite Quinn for taking a stand to protect domestic abuse issues; I appreciate it,” said Bucks County District attorney Matt Weintraub. “I’m a gun owner. I’m against crime. I fight crime every day. I’m a firearm owner against crime and I support this bill along with Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.”
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, but has 60 days in which to do so. House Bill 2060 would make the relinquishment period 24 hours, and defines the entities eligible to hold the firearms, such as law enforcement, officer of the court, a licensed firearms dealer or to a commercial armory.
“Our organization, Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA), is disturbed this bill did not get a vote,” said Penny Ettinger. “We service more than 3,000 victims of physical and psychological abuse per year. This abuse extends to not just the romantic partner but to children, grandparents and friends.”
Moms Demand Action’s Melissa Carden added her support, by saying, “It is shameful what happened to House Bill 2060 leaving women and children vulnerable. We will not stand for putting the rights of convicted domestic abusers over the rights of women and children.”
“This bill has so much support from so many organizations, including law enforcement and victim advocacy groups,” Quinn concluded. “I am confident that in the end, reason will prevail and House Bill 2060 will become law.”
The bill was reported from the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 21-6 and out of the House Appropriations Committee by a vote of 35-0.
Tam St. Clare, of Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition, noted, “This is a public health issue. This must be addressed now. Marguerite Quinn should be commended for her hard work on this issue.”
Representative Marguerite Quinn
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton