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Pennsylvania Moms Demand Action, Everytown, Mayor Wagner, Law Enforcement and Advocates Urge Pennsylvania Lawmakers to Pass Life-Saving Domestic Violence Legislation

Mayor Wagner, District Attorney Johnson and Sheriff Ritter Support Senate Bill 501, Which Would Require All Abusers Subject to Final Protective Orders to Turn in Their Guns

82 Percent of Pennsylvanians, Including 88 Percent of Gun-Owning Households, Support Prohibiting Anyone Convicted of a Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence or Subject to a Domestic Violence Protection Order from Purchasing a Gun

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Volunteers with the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, Lewisburg Mayor Judith Wagner, Union County District Attorney D. Peter Johnson, Sheriff Ernie Ritter and Susan Mathias of Transitions PA today urged Pennsylvania legislators to pass Senate Bill 501, legislation that would protect Pennsylvania families by requiring all domestic abusers subject to final protection from abuse orders to surrender their guns. The bill would also shorten the current 60-day period convicted domestic abusers have to surrender their guns to 24 hours.

According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, over the last decade, firearms have accounted for more than half of all domestic-violence-related homicides in the state. And research from Everytown for Gun Safety shows that only 14 percent of final protection from abuse orders issued in Pennsylvania from 2011 through 2015 required that firearms be turned in.

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown, today released a new poll showing a strong majority of Pennsylvania voters support legislation that protects women and families. The polling found, among other results, that:

  • 82 percent of likely Pennsylvania voters, including 88 percent of gun-owning households, support prohibiting anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or subject to a domestic violence protection order from purchasing a gun.
  • 76 percent of likely Pennsylvania voters, including 78 percent of gun-owning households, support requiring anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or subject to a domestic violence protection order to turn in any guns they have to law enforcement or a licensed dealer.

“Dangerous gaps in Pennsylvania law make it far too easy for known dangerous domestic abusers to access a firearm, but we know that legislation like SB 501 can save lives,” said Judith Wagner, mayor of the City of Lewisburg. “Cities in states that have passed similar laws saw a 25% reduction in intimate partner gun homicides. SB 501 is a common-sense policy that the legislature should pass to protect families as well as law enforcement in Lewisburg and across the state.”

“The toll that domestic violence takes on families is devastating, and my colleagues and I see the results of guns and domestic violence in Union County,” said D. Peter Johnson, Union County District Attorney. “Passing SB 501 would help better protect Pennsylvania families as we continue to seek justice for the victims of domestic violence. Prohibited abusers should be made to immediately surrender their guns if we are serious about protecting victims of domestic abuse.”

“Every month my department responds to calls for help from victims of domestic violence in our community,” said Sheriff Ernie Ritter. “These calls are among the most dangerous my officers respond to. If an abuser has a gun, it makes the situation more perilous for both victims and law enforcement on the front lines. SB 501 will help protect victims of domestic violence and the law enforcement officers working to keep them safe.”

“The statistics are staggering. Over the past decade, more than 1,600 people have died at the hands of domestic violence abusers in our state,” said Susan Mathias, CEO of Transitions PA. “Firearms have accounted for more than half of these deaths. Enough is enough. Transitions PA stands alongside the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action and domestic violence centers across the state urging the legislature to pass SB 501 to reduce the number of these senseless tragedies.”

“I can’t stress enough just how important it is for our lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 501,” said Steva Stowell-Hardcastle, a volunteer with the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Although Pennsylvania has a long and proud history of responsible gun ownership, the statistics show that we still have a lot more to do. Only 14 percent – that’s about 1 in 7 – of all final protection from abuse orders that were issued from 2011 through 2015 actually required abusers to turn in their guns. This is entirely unacceptable.”