Senator Tom Killion (R – Chester & Delaware) praised the release of a bench card by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), the supervisory arm of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, providing direction to trial courts on the facilitating the surrender of firearms by those convicted of domestic violence or subject to a final Protection From Abuse (PFA) as required by Act 79 of 2018.
“State law previously allowed those convicted of domestic violence to transfer their guns to a relative, friend or neighbor,” said Killion. “And it gave them 60 days to do so. Those weren’t loopholes, they were Grand Canyon-sized gaps that allowed domestic abusers to further harm and potentially take the lives of their victims.”
Killion sponsored Senate Bill 501 during the 2017-18 legislative session, the language of which was incorporated into Act 79. The Killion-sponsored legislation required those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence or those subject to a final PFA to relinquish firearms, weapons and ammunition to the County Sheriff or other law enforcement agency or to a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer.
Those subject to the provisions of Act 79 are now required to surrender their firearms within 24 hours of conviction or the issuance of a final PFA order.
Resembling a detailed checklist, the new bench cards itemize the amended statute definitions and provide consequent procedures judges should consider when ordering a defendant to relinquish firearms in certain domestic violence cases – including both temporary and final PFA orders.
The bench cards reflect the recent amendments to both the PFA law and the Crimes Code and will ensure that trial courts know how to protect victims of domestic violence and individuals who are granted final PFA orders.
“I commend Chief Justice Thomas Saylor, Superior Court Judge Jack Panella and Delaware County Common Pleas Judge George Pagano for their important work providing judicial guidance on our efforts to protect victims of domestic violence,” said Killion, noting the members of the committee that wrote the bench card.
“I’m gratified that our courts are committed to protecting victims of domestic violence. This bench card is another important step towards ending the epidemic of gun violence.”