Advocates for stronger gun laws and domestic violence prevention are pushing for the passage of a bill that would restrict access to firearms for people convicted of domestic abuse. They say the current law has big loopholes.
In any domestic violence case involving a gun in Pennsylvania, law enforcement can demand the abuser turn the firearm over to police or a third party within 60 days. That third party can range from a licensed gun dealer to a friend or family member to safeguard the firearm.
Nicole Molinaro Karaczun, chief program officer at the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, said many victims of domestic violence are shot within those two months following an incident involving a gun.
"We know that guns and domestic violence are absolutely a deadly combination, and the current law is just not enough," she said.
Senate Bill 501, which is awaiting Senate action, would require abusers to turn in their guns within 24 hours to a law enforcement official or licensed dealer. Karaczun says this would prevent homicides, as 56 percent of domestic violence deaths last year in Pennsylvania involved guns.
"If Senate Bill 501 isn't passed, the abusers who shot them could continue to have easy access to their guns to shoot their victims, and as we know happens, often unfortunately the children as well," she said.
According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a firearm in a home where domestic violence occurs raises the chance of homicide by 500 percent.
For help regarding domestic violence, the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh hotline is 412-687-8005 ext. 1.