HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Governor Edward G.
Rendell today signed House Bill 1717, sponsored by Rep. Katie True
(R-Lancaster), into law.
House Bill 1717 amends Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 23 (Domestic
Relations) by providing for protection from abuse orders. If a PFA is issued
against an individual, he or she may be ordered to surrender all firearms.
The firearms may be sold to a consignment shop or turned over to the local
sheriff or a third party for safekeeping.
"Too many unnecessary acts of violence have taken place when arguments
between couples have escalated beyond control," said Governor Rendell.
"Individuals have been shot, burned and injured, but they could have been
saved if more measures had been in place to protect them. House Bill 1717
provides the necessary measures to save someone from a brutal attack, which
could prove fatal. This bill is not about punishing someone; it's about
potentially saving someone's life."
Any person who has a protection from abuse order filed against him or her
will now face a misdemeanor charge if he or she is ordered to surrender a
firearm and does not do so. In addition, any person who accepts a firearm
from a person against whom an active PFA was ordered, in which the order
required relinquishment of weapons, will be charged with committing a third
degree misdemeanor. The bill also stipulates that if the third party returns
the weapons to the original owner prematurely, then he or she will be charged
with a first degree misdemeanor.
House Bill 1717 also lays forth additional exceptions to those persons who
may carry firearms without a license:
-- Members of the Air Force and Coast Guard;
-- Persons carrying an unloaded firearm to or from a place of
instruction to teach the safe and proper handling of firearms;
-- A person who is carrying a firearm as a third party to whom a firearm
was previously relinquished for safekeeping;
-- A person who is lawfully engaged in the interstate transportation of
-- Any person who possesses a valid license under the laws of another
state, regardless of whether or not there is a reciprocity with that
state and providing that state allows a reciprocal privilege for
individuals to carry a firearm and that the Pennsylvania Attorney
General has determined that the firearms laws of the state are
similar to those of Pennsylvania.
The license to carry a firearm will be designed to be uniform throughout
the state in a form prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police. In addition
to the elements required under current law, the license to carry shall
contain: a license number; a point-of-contact telephone number established by
PSP; and a photograph compatible with the Commonwealth Photo Imaging Network.
Social security numbers will no longer appear on the license.
In addition to the current $19 fee for a license to carry a firearm, there
will be an additional temporary fee of $5, to be placed in the "Firearms
License to Carry Modernization Account." Moneys in the account will be used
as grants for sheriffs to implement a new system implemented by the
Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency in conjunction with PSP and
the Sheriff's Association, to standardize and modernize the process of issuing
licenses to carry a firearm. There will also be an additional $1 fee paid by
the applicant and remitted by the sheriff to the "Firearms License Validation
System Account." This money will be appropriated to PSP to establish a
nationwide toll-free telephone number to respond to law enforcement inquiries
regarding the validity of a Pennsylvania license to carry a firearm.
Current law provides for a statewide registry of protection from abuse
orders. House Bill 1717 specifies that the relationship between the plaintiff
and the defendant be added to the information filed in that registry, as well
as whether or not any firearms, other weapons or ammunition were ordered
relinquished. Additionally, the bill adds that any person who files for a PFA
is to notify the court if he or she believes that the defendant is in one of
several occupations involving firearms.
Currently, there is a $25 surcharge on a protection from abuse order, to
be charged to the defendant. Under this bill, the fee will be increased to
When firearms are relinquished to a third party for safekeeping, the
sheriff's office will determine whether or not the third party is prohibited
from possessing firearms, other weapons or ammunition under federal or state
law. If the third party is allowed to have the firearm in his or her
possession, then both the third party and the defendant will sign affidavits
authorizing the exchange and the sheriff will issue a safekeeping permit to
the third party for the length of the PFA order or until revoked by the
sheriff. The defendant is to then relinquish the items to the third party and
obtain a signed acknowledgement receipt.
However, the sheriff can revoke the safekeeping permit if:
-- A PFA is issued against the third party;
-- The third party is prohibited from using firearms, other weapons or
ammunition under either state or federal law; or
-- The defendant is convicted of a violation of an offense involving a
firearm, or if the defendant is held in contempt for violation of the
In the event that a PFA is issued against the third party, or the third
party becomes prohibited from using firearms, the sheriff will notify the
defendant who may either find a different third party or relinquish the
firearm to a dealer. In an instance where the permit was revoked due to an
illegal act by the defendant, the sheriff will keep the firearm until it's
relinquished to a dealer or until a court order provides for the sheriff to
Any third party who intentionally or knowingly violates the provisions of
this bill will be held liable for damages and will be responsible for up to
$5,000 in punitive damages.
Additionally, this bill also allows the president judge of the court of
common pleas to appoint a part-time or full-time master for emergency relief,
with the approval of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts who may
accept PFA petitions when the judge is not available, and increases the
minimum fine for violation of a PFA from $100 to $300.
The bill passed the House 199-1 and the Senate, with amendments, 48-2.
The House concurred 191-0. To view the effective dates of all parts of the
The Rendell Administration is committed to creating a first-rate public
education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing
economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out
more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly
newsletter, visit his Web site at: http://www.governor.state.pa.us.
CONTACT: Brandi Hunter-Davenport, Pennsylvania Office of the Governor,
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor