Act 79- PA Comes a Step Closer To “Common Sense” Gun Laws in Domestic Violence Cases

The Numbers Are Staggering

  • Abused women are fives times more likely to die if their abuser has access to a gun.
  • A woman is shot to death by a current or former romantic partner every 16 hours.
  • Most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender.

These statistics are startling and sad. Domestic violence can take the lives of the abused women, the law enforcement officers called to help, children and innocent bystanders.

Updates To The Law

On April 10th, enhancements to Pennsylvania’s Protection from Abuse Act went into effect. Essentially, a new provision in the Act has created increased protections for victims of domestic violence, especially when the abusers owned guns.  The Act indicates that an abuser’s firearm may no longer be kept with a friend or family, during the duration of the PFA. Moreover, Act 79, requires individuals who have a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction or have had a final protection from abuse order entered against them surrender their weapons. Weapons must be given to the police or sheriff, a licensed gun dealer, a licensed commercial armory or the defendant’s attorney.

Under the old law, a judge used his or her discretion when deciding if an abuser had to relinquish his or her firearm. Under the new law, judges are required to enforce this provision. Many advocate groups are hoping that this amendment will protect and save thousands of people affected by domestic abuse.

The Boyfriend-Girlfriend Loophole

Before the law was updated, those required to turn in their weapons had to have been married, cohabitants or have a child together with the victim. Those involved in a mere “dating” relationship were protected. This was referred to as the “boyfriend-girlfriend” loophole. Under Act 79, those who had a more casual relationship with the abuser are now protected.

For more information about domestic abuse, please check out The National Domestic Violence Hotline at https://www.thehotline.org/.

Scott Bonebrake is a personal injury attorney in Media, PA, and has been a licensed attorney for 24 years. Please feel free to contact Scott if you have any legal questions, including those regarding Protection From Abuse. You can reach Scott at 610-892-7700, or at sbonebrake@noelandbonebrake.com.