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Pa. lawmakers mulling bill to protect domestic violence victims

It's not uncommon in Pennsylvania for people to have firearms in their residence. Whether it's for hunting, target practice or self-defense, many people keep guns at home. This could potentially become problematic if a gun owner is accused of domestic violence. Many people say that there is currently a loophole that does not adequately control the possession of firearms by domestic abusers. State lawmakers are considering changing the law to close this loophole.

Currently, when a person is served a Protection from Abuse order in Pennsylvania, that person is supposed to surrender their firearms. They must hand the guns over to law enforcement or to a relative or friend within 24 hours of the PFA's being issued. They must then sign an affidavit saying that they have no weapons.

Many people - including police and advocates for domestic violence victims - say that this is inadequate. They say that the subject of the PFA can in many cases retrieve firearms stored with third parties. This could pose a danger to victims and to law enforcement alike, according to activists.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a proposal that would eliminate this loophole. The proposed law would require that PFA subjects turn their guns over to law enforcement or to a licensed firearms dealer. This would eliminate the possibility of a PFA subject using persuasion or stealth to retrieve weapons that they are not supposed to have. Lawmakers were still considering the bill at last report.

This debate underscores the danger that domestic violence victims may be in and why it can be crucial for domestic violence victims to take quick action to protect the personal safety of themselves and other victims and potential victims in their household. Regardless of whether a victim has been threatened with a weapon, taking swift action can let abusers know that their conduct is not acceptable.

Source: WYTV.com, "Protecting victims of domestic abuse begins with that first 911 call," Lindsey Watson, May 4, 2017

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