Working to strengthen protections for domestic violence victims
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and on Oct. 3, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved legislation that has been signed into law to strengthen protections for those who are victims of domestic violence.
Under House Bill 2060, now Act 79 of 2018, those who are convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence will be required to turn over their firearms to a sheriff, or a third party, within 24 hours, instead of the previous requirement of 60 days.
In the case of a civil order, which entails a final, not temporary, protection from abuse (PFA) order, a judge will order the relinquishment of firearms after a hearing at which evidence is presented and both parties have a chance to speak, thereby ensuring that an individual’s due process rights are addressed. Firearms will be turned over to law enforcement, an officer of the court, a licensed firearms dealer or a commercial armory — and not a family member or friend, which was previously allowed.
The new law will not impact any law-abiding citizens, only individuals with a conviction of domestic violence or a final PFA order.
The adoption of this law is an important step forward to better protect victims of domestic violence.
If you or someone you know is being impacted by domestic violence, there are many resources available where you can find help.
I encourage anyone suffering at the hands of an abusive partner to reach out for help by calling the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 1-800-932-4632. Among the services provided to domestic violence victims are crisis intervention; counseling; accompaniment to police, medical and court facilities; and temporary emergency shelter for victims and their dependent children.
Those in need of assistance can also call the United Way’s 2-1-1 services center. This is a free, three-digit telephone number with trained information specialists who can answer questions and connect you with thousands of health and human services programs that can help you through your particular situation. Just dial 2-1-1.
Getting out of an abusive relationship can be difficult; however, there are programs and services that can be of great help, and I encourage you to make use of them.