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New Law in PA Tightens Gun Regulations for Domestic Violence Offenders

17 Jan 2019, by Brandy Benefield in Assault, Criminal Defense

Written by Timothy Czekaj

In October 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law House Bill 2060, which puts in place tougher gun regulations for domestic violence offenders. The law mandates that anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, or who is subject to a protective order, has 24 hours to surrender their guns. Previously, someone subject to a gun surrender would have up to 60 days to do so. The law will go into effect in April 2019.

If you or a loved one are facing charges relating to surrendering your guns, contact the criminal defense attorney from Czekaj Law, LLC at (717) 275-9770, or reach out via our online form to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.

Why Did Pennsylvania Toughen Its Gun Laws?

2018 was a deadly year in terms of firearm violence. In addition to persistent gun violence in cities plagued by gangs, the country suffered several high-profile mass shootings. Any broad bipartisan effort to curb gun violence seems unlikely – whether at the state or federal level.

When it comes to domestic violence offenders, however, Republicans and Democrats both agree that limiting access to firearms is a sound policy. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence stated that in 2017, the Commonwealth saw its most domestic violence-related firearm deaths in 10 years. Due to such statistics, Pennsylvania legislators from both sides of the aisle crafted a piece of legislation that takes steps towards protecting victims of abuse from gun violence, while at the same time avoiding an unreasonable restriction on the Second Amendment rights of their constituents.

What Happens if I am the Subject of a Domestic Violence Protective Order?

House Bill 2060 places restrictions on people convicted of domestic violence crimes, and also those who are subject to Protection from Abuse orders (PFAs). These protective orders are a civil remedy available to offer protection from an alleged abuser. The abuse victim can petition the court, present evidence of the abuse, and obtain protection from abuse.

Previously, someone had up to 60 days to surrender their firearms, and they could give them to a friend or relative outside of their household. Now, people named in PFAs must surrender the weapons to the police or sheriff’s office – and they only have 24 hours to do so. The only way they can keep their guns is if the judge agrees to an extension on the deadline for surrendering the weapons, or if the person requesting the PFA agrees that the alleged abuser may keep their firearms.

Not everyone is happy with this new system. Some from law enforcement worry about having to build larger and more secure facilities to store the confiscated firearms. Some believe that PFAs are too easy to obtain, and that the evidentiary standards are too low. Finally, some legislators resisted the change because they see House Bill 2060 as gun control in disguise.

Do You Have Questions About Gun Regulations for Domestic Violence Offenders? Contact Us Today for Help

If an intimate partner is seeking a protective order against you, a criminal defense lawyer can help. It may be possible to present evidence at the PFA hearing that shows that you are not a danger to the complainant, or that their claims are exaggerated or made up. It’s important to have a lawyer involved from the start of these proceedings, because they sometimes lead to formal, criminal charges. At Czekaj Law, LLC, we have built our reputation on our ability to improve the prospects of our clients facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania courts.

To schedule a free, initial evaluation of your case, contact us today at (717) 275-9770.