Pa. legislators pass bill requiring domestic abusers to surrender firearms

In a move to protect victims of domestic violence, legislators in Harrisburg passed a bill requiring domestic abusers to turn over their weapons.

When 59-year-old Bruce Rogal went on a shooting rampage September 19 in Chester County, slaughtering his elderly parents, investigators say he was using a weapon he'd gotten back when his wife's protection from abuse order expired.

State Representative Marguerite Quinn says guns and domestic unrest are a deadly mixture.

"It's the time the attacker may be most willing to use the gun?" asked Fox 29's Jeff Cole.
"It's the time the attacker not just maybe, has shown it's the time they're most willing to do it," explained Representative Quinn.

Quinn says from late June to late September, there have been 39 domestic abuse deaths in Pennsylvania involving firearms.

It's a big reason, she says, a bill passed in the State House Wednesday is long overdue.

It pulls firearms from domestic abusers within 24 hours after they've been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, or a final protection from abuse order has been lodged against them.

Advocates for victims of domestic violence believe it can save lives.

"It's a difference between 60 days and one day, and I think we all know we need to get guns out of the hands of abusers, quickly," said Jeannine Lisitski, with Women Against Abuse.

Quinn's bill would no longer allow abusers to give their guns to friends or family for safekeeping.

It mandates the firearms be surrendered to a sheriff, state or local police, the gun owners' lawyer or a licensed gun dealer.

The goal is to quickly separate the gun from an angry abuser.

"Acts of vengeance, acts of passion - acts that can turn into tragedy - show the need for this bill," stated Quinn.

The bill must win approval in the state Senate, which may vote next week.

The Governor's spokesperson says he'll sign it.