At state level, pro­tec­tive or­ders to con­fis­cate guns have gained lit­tle trac­tion,

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Front Page - By Liz Navratil

HAR­RIS­BURG — Pitts­burgh City Coun­cil mem­bers prob­a­bly won’t be the only law­mak­ers con­sid­er­ing whether to ap­prove the cre­ation of “ex­treme risk pro­tec­tion or­ders,” which would al­low the courts to con­fis­cate some­one’s guns tem­po­rar­ily if they present a risk to them­selves or oth­ers.

Rep. Todd Stephens, RMont­gomery County, an­nounced plans last week to in­tro­duce such a mea­sure. Its fate re­mains un­cer­tain.

While Repub­li­cans who con­trol the House cham­ber ac­knowl­edge that there is “some sup­port” for such a bill, “it’s hard to say if there’s go­ing to be enough sup­port for it to def­i­nitely move or not,” said Mike Straub, a spokesman for House Repub­li­cans, who con­trol the leg­isla­tive cal­en­dar.

Gun bills typ­i­cally have been a heavy lift for state law­mak­ers, whose stances on the is­sue don’t fall neatly along par­ti­san lines.

Mr. Stephens in­tro­duced a sim­i­lar bill last year, af­ter the Park­land, Fla., high school shoot­ing. While the mea­sure made it fur­ther than most gun bills — ad­vanc­ing out of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee — it lan­guished on the floor. Had it passed both cham­bers, Penn­syl­va­nia would have joined around 14 other states in cre­at­ing a process by which a judge could or­der the re­moval of guns from a per­son deemed to be at risk of hurt­ing some­one, in­clud­ing them­selves.

Mr. Stephens did not re­spond to a mes­sage left in his Capi­tol of­fice last week.

When his bill went through the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee last year, he pitched it to his col­leagues as a way to save lives and in­ter­vene in sit­u­a­tions that might be dif­fi­cult to ad­dress un­der cur­rent state law.

“The only way to dis­arm a loved one in cri­sis is to in­vol­un­tar­ily com­mit them in a men­tal in­sti­tu­tion for up to five days,” Mr. Stephens said. “That’s five days taken against your will, away from your home, your fam­ily, your friends, your job. But that’s only if you meet the cri­te­ria of hav­ing a men­tal ill­ness.”

He went on to cite a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle that said less than half of all peo­ple who com­mit sui­cide have a di­ag­nosed men­tal health con­di­tion. The state Depart­ment of Health counted 1,547 gun deaths — 972 of them sui­cides — in 2016, the lat­est year for which data was im­me­di­ately avail­able.

Mr. Stephens’ bill would have al­lowed law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, rel­a­tives or house­hold mem­bers to pe­ti­tion a court to pro­hibit some­one tem­po­rar­ily from pos­sess­ing or pur­chas­ing a gun if the per­son presents a risk of sui­cide or a risk of se­ri­ously in­jur­ing oth­ers.

Some of the com­mit­tees’ more prom­i­nent gun rights sup­port­ers ques­tioned whether the bill over­reached. Rep. Paul Schemel, R-Franklin, said at the time that he be­lieved the bill placed “too great a de­mand on our con­sti­tu­tional rights” to bear a firearm, but be­lieved that changes could be made to sat­isfy his con­cerns.

Oth­ers, such as then-Rep. Dom Costa, D-Stan­ton Heights, and for­mer Pitts­burgh po­lice chief, ap­plauded the bill. He re­counted a time when he ne­go­ti­ated over the phone with a man who had killed his girl­friend — a man who said “some­one should have taken the guns from him.”

“He killed him­self as I spoke with him on the phone,” Mr. Costa said dur­ing the meet­ing. “This is some­thing that doesn’t need to hap­pen.”

He added later: “This bill will save lives. When it comes to weigh­ing a life over a Sec­ond Amend­ment right, I’m go­ing to go with sav­ing that life ev­ery time.”

The bill passed out of com­mit­tee, 18-9. It stalled be­fore it got enough votes for fi­nal pas­sage on the floor.

“I think it’s safe to say there was trou­ble find­ing con­sen­sus on that bill among some of our mem­bers who just took some is­sue with the ques­tions of due process,” Mr. Straub said. “There was cer­tainly a con­tin­gency of our mem­bers who had is­sue with the lan­guage in that bill and how guns were taken away and when.”

For­mer state Rep. Dom Costa sup­ported leg­is­la­tion that would have al­lowed the re­moval of a per­son's guns upon a judge's ap­proval of an ex­treme risk pro­tec­tion or­der.

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