Democratic legislators: H.B. 2060 can save lives of domestic abuse victims

HARRISBURG, Sept. 26 – Democratic members of the House and Senate released the following statement regarding today’s House vote on H.B. 2060, legislation to tighten the time frame and manner in which court-ordered defendants in domestic violence cases have to surrender their firearms.

H.B. 2060 passed the House today 131-62.

 

“I laud any movement in the direction of protecting the victims of domestic violence, but I have very serious reservations about an amendment added earlier this summer to H.B. 2060, which would allow abusers to keep their firearm under a consent order if they can get their victims to agree,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny.

“The victims of domestic violence should not be put in a position where their abuser coerces, threatens or forces them to agree with this provision. An abuser with a weapon has a powerful influence over their victim. The court should require abusers to surrender all firearms in every case of domestic violence. We cannot put victims in the position to negotiate firearms with their already-hostile abusers.

“We have an incredible opportunity to save lives with this bill; we cannot get it wrong and concede to abusers and the NRA.”

“This bill will help many women survive violence by giving them the confidence to file for a PFA, knowing that in most cases the guns in their homes will be addressed forthright,” said PA SAFE Chairwoman Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery. “Without this change, the current 60-day surrender window makes it hardly worth having a law on the books at all.

“Though this bill is not perfect, and a concerning loophole remains, it is a step in the right direction. I support this bill’s passage out of the House, and will continue to work to strengthen this and other domestic violence laws. No one should have to fear for their life because a known abuser is allowed to carry a loaded gun. We still have a lot of work to do.”

State Rep. Helen Tai, D-Bucks, spoke in support of the bill today but was censored by Speaker Mike Turzai when she attempted to express serious concerns about a possibly improperly adopted amendment allowing domestic abusers to keep their guns if there is a consent order agreement with the abused. Citing House Rule 19, which states that amendments in the Appropriations Committee can only consider the fiscal aspects of the bill after second consideration, Tai was attempting to point out that the amendment should have been voted on by the entire House.

“Today I rose in support of H.B. 2060, legislation to close dangerous loopholes and greatly decrease the likelihood that victims of domestic violence will be murdered or injured from gun violence,” Tai said. “Long before I ever considered running for state representative, I came to Harrisburg with Moms Demand Action to lobby for the Senate version, S.B. 501, and I’m sorry it’s taken so long for it to receive a vote. I am delighted that we were finally given the opportunity to vote on this most basic commonsense gun safety measure.

“I hope Speaker Turzai will also bring before the chamber other critical gun safety measures that have been introduced and are supported by the majority of Pennsylvanians, including universal background checks, bans on bump stocks and assault weapons, and the safe storage bills that I introduced this summer.”