The Lead

Pennsylvania gets C+ grade from national gun control group

By: - February 26, 2019 10:59 am

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave Pennsylvania’s gun laws a slightly better mark in 2018 following the passage of a bill restricting domestic abusers’ access to firearms.

Passing the law improved Pennsylvania’s grade from a C to a C+. Judged by strength, the commonwealth’s gun laws rank 12th in the nation, according to the Giffords Law Center.

Act 79, passed last fall, gave gun owners 24 hours to turn their firearms over to police, a dealer, or lawyer after a domestic violence conviction or final protection from abuse order.

Previously, people convicted of domestic abuse had 60 days to relinquish their weapons, which could be handed over to friends and family members. State domestic violence advocates teamed up with gun violence prevention groups to push through the bill over the course of last year.

An early version of the bill sailed through the Senate unanimously last March with a neutral NRA rating before the House introduced its own language. It was tied up for months as a more hardline pro-gun group — Firearm Owners Against Crime — tried to rally against the bill.

READ MORE: FOAC’s role in municipalities’ gun law battles

Finally, in September, the bill passed 131-62 with Democrats and Republicans voting on both sides. The Senate OK’d the legislation with some dissension before it reached Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk for a signature.

The bill goes into effect this April.

READ MORE: The law gun violence prevention advocates want to tackle next in Harrisburg

According to the Giffords Law Center, 26 states and Washington, D.C. passed 67 new gun laws last year. In 2017, the center — named for Gabby Giffords, a former member of Congress who was severely injured by a gunman — counted just 12 new laws related to guns.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is the Capital-Star's House reporter. He previously covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter. You can reach him at 845-891-4306.

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