An Illustrative Case
A recent case against a Greene County district attorney shows how swiftly and surely gun surrender works under Pennsylvania protection from abuse (PFA) orders. An initial news report of the case indicates that the district attorney's wife obtained the PFA order from the local court based on allegations of abuse, including intimidation with guns. The initial report indicates that the PFA was the second such order the wife had obtained during their long-term marriage. The PFA also required the district attorney to pay support for the couple's several children and avoid contact with the wife and children, who had fled the marital home. An updated news report quotes the district attorney as denying the allegations while saying that they are an attempt to destroy his career.
Both the initial report and updated report indicate that the PFA order included the standard requirement that the district attorney surrender all firearms. The right to possess firearms can be critical in law enforcement and other roles. Workers in various security fields may own several firearms to carry out their job duties. Indeed, the initial report indicates that the PFA order required the district attorney to relinquish more than a dozen firearms. The wife's allegations that the district attorney had intimidated her with guns and even fired guns around her outside the home would, if true, certainly have supported the PFA order's gun surrender provision.
Authority for Gun Surrender
Gun surrender is a standard PFA provision even when the defendant did not use a gun in any incident justifying the order. Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act clearly authorizes gun surrender under PFA orders. Section 6108(a)(7) is the Act's core gun surrender provision. Section 6108(a)(7) authorizes a PFA order to:
- prohibit the defendant from acquiring or possessing any firearm for the duration of the order
- require the defendant to temporarily relinquish any firearms under the defendant's possession or control
- require the defendant to relinquish any firearm license the defendant may possess
- require the defendant to relinquish other weapons or ammunition related to an incident of abuse against the plaintiff or the minor children
What Happens to the Guns
Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act will ensure that the district attorney in the above case has a prompt hearing on whether the temporary PFA order should continue and become a permanent order. In the meantime, the sheriff or other local law enforcement agency will hold the surrendered guns. The Act, though, does provide an attractive alternative. Section 6108.3 authorizes the court to order the guns surrendered to a qualified third party in place of law enforcement. Given the right qualifications, that third party may even be the defendant's own firearms dealer or retained attorney.
Get Attorney Help
If you face a PFA proceeding, whether involving gun surrender or not, get the expert attorney help you need for the best outcome. Retain Pennsylvania PFA attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm for your PFA proceeding, including regarding firearm restrictions and rights. Attorney Lento and his expert team at the Lento Law Firm have the substantial skills and extensive experience, combined with the highest commitment, to aggressively represent those involved in PFA proceedings. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 or online for a prompt consultation.