Protection From Abuse Orders/Gun Control by Corey M. Lamoureux, Esquire

Governor Tom Wolf recently signed Act No. 79 into law on October 12, 2018, which now requires individuals to surrender all guns to their sheriff’s office within twenty-four (24) hours after they are convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or become subject to a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order.  This new law, which is effective April 10, 2019, also precludes the individual who must turn in their guns from turning them over to family or friends.

Courts now also have the ability to prohibit individuals from acquiring or possessing firearms if there is a Protection From Abuse Order entered into by a mutual agreement between the parties.  Stated otherwise, even if you are not found to have committed abuse against another person, the court still may order that you must give up all guns to your local sheriff’s office even if there was a mutual agreement to the entry of a Protection From Abuse Order.

The new gun control law also outlines the conditions that must be met in order for your guns to be returned to you, which are as follows: the firearms, or other weapons or ammunition relinquished must not be evidence of a crime; the individual who relinquished the guns must not be otherwise prohibited from having the guns returned to them by applicable Federal or State Law, or other conditions, including, but not limited to, bail, from taking possession of the firearms, or weapons or ammunition seized. The owner of the firearms must also be given clearance by the Pennsylvania State Police Instant Check System, or through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is requested by the sheriff’s office.

The new law also requires that the plaintiff, or the person who requested the Protection From Abuse Order, shall be notified that the individual whom the guns were seized from requested return of the firearms, or other weapons, or ammunition that they were forced to turn over.

This law also impacts third parties, including family and friends, who were once able to receive the guns from individuals in lieu of turning them into the sheriff’s office.  The person can now be charged with a misdemeanor of the third degree if they intentionally or knowingly accept possession of a firearm, or other weapons or ammunition from a person they know is the subject of an actual final Protection From Abuse Order.

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