HARRISBURG—Legislation sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to help families and law enforcement better prevent suicides and gun violence has passed the House Judiciary Committee.
“It is critical that we combat gun violence by identifying those who pose a threat to themselves or others,” Stephens said.
House Bill 2227
, which won bipartisan support in the committee, creates a way for family members or law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily prohibit certain individuals from possessing firearms or ammunition, and to relinquish any firearms or ammunition they may currently have, to prevent them from doing harm.
The bill would create an Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) to allow a court to take precautions when provided with clear and convincing evidence a subject poses an extreme risk to themselves or others. If a court issues an ERPO prohibiting an individual from possessing firearms, that information would be promptly submitted to the Pennsylvania State Police to prevent the individual from purchasing firearms as well.
Under this bill, a court could immediately issue a temporary ERPO, but it must follow up with a full expedited hearing where the subject of the order may participate and offer evidence and testimony before a final order is issued. Final orders must be as short as safety allows but may not last more than one year.
Under this process, a district attorney could represent the petitioner, while a public defender could represent the respondent at the hearing for a final order.
The bill would also impose criminal penalties on any person who files a petition for an ERPO that contains false statements.
House Bill 2227 has been endorsed by Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, founded following the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and committed to stemming the national gun death epidemic; CeaseFire PA, a statewide organization that works with mayors, police chiefs, churches and community organizations in standing against gun violence; Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, created to demand action from legislatures, companies, and educational institutions to establish commonsense gun reforms; Everytown for Gun Safety; the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association; and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.
The bill now moves to the whole House for a vote.
During the same committee hearing, Stephens joined a bipartisan majority of legislators in approving House Bill 2060
. Under this legislation, an individual found guilty and sentenced before a judge would be required to relinquish any and all firearms in their possession narrowing the window of time in which convicted abusers would have to relinquish their weapons from 60 days to 48 hours for an individual convicted of the misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
The defendant would also be prohibited from turning over their weapons to a family member or friend, and instead would be required to relinquish them to law enforcement, an authorized gun dealer or an attorney.
Stephens also joined a majority of his colleagues in supporting House Bill 273
. This would establish a voluntary firearm purchase self-exclusion list to be maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police. An individual would be able to request placement on the list, and could also voluntarily surrender any existing firearms to the state police for safekeeping.
Both House Bill 2060 and House Bill 273 go to the whole House for a vote.
Representative Todd Stephens
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster