Bill restricting abusers’ gun access in Pennsylvania heads to Gov. Wolf’s desk

The state legislature has been considering a number of proposals to tighten gun laws. This is the only one that has passed.

  • Katie Meyer

(Harrisburg) — The state legislature has passed a bill that would force convicted domestic abusers to give up their guns more quickly, and make them harder to get back without permission.

The governor plans to sign it. And when that happens, it’ll be the first time in years Pennsylvania has tightened a gun law.

Currently, once a person is served with a final Protection from Abuse order or is convicted of domestic violence in the commonwealth, they have 60 days to give up their firearms. Those guns can go to family and friends for safekeeping.

Once Governor Tom Wolf signs House Bill 2060, though, the window for relinquishment will shrink to 24 hours. And guns can only be held by police, lawyers, or licensed firearm dealers.

In the final Senate debate, there were a few opponents.

Blair County Republican John Eichelberger says he could almost support it. But he was concerned that the rules on who can hold relinquished weapons are too strict.

“There’s a lot of people concerned that we’ve gone maybe a little too far with this bill,” he told Senate colleagues.

Eichelberger sponsored an amendment that would have broadened the list of possible gun safekeepers to include anyone who isn’t related to the person giving up their weapons.

It failed decisively.

Robert Tomlinson, a Republican from Bucks County, argued that the amendment is about “making sure firearms don’t get back into the hands of anyone who might cause danger to anyone,” and said he doesn’t think that “just leaving these firearms with a friend provides that security.”

Ultimately, the underlying bill passed easily, unamended. The five nays came from western conservatives.

The proposal had been in the works for years, but got a boost after two school shootings this winter thrust a number of gun-restricting bills into the limelight.

This is the only one that has passed.