The following editorial appeared in the (Sunbury, Pennsylvania) Daily Item, a CNHI newspaper.
Pennsylvania continues to take steps forward to protect citizens from individuals that should not have access to weapons. A package of red flag bills passed earlier this year was highlighted by Act 79, which quickly removes weapons from domestic abusers and puts them in the hands of law enforcement personnel, gun dealers or certified attorneys.
Today we highlight one of the unintended consequences of the bill, which shines the light on one unforeseen aspect of the legislation.
While law officers applaud the law and its intent, many agencies across the state are having difficulty finding time and space to store the weapons. Act 79 requires the weapons be seized and appropriately handled within 24 hours of the final Protection From Abuse order. That means departments must log, label and store weapons in a secure location at all times of the day. To add to the complication, there are single seizures that require dozens of guns to be confiscated at one time.
“We were not really given much notice when this happened in April,” Northumberland County Sheriff Bob Wolfe said. “I am strongly in favor of this change in the law but at the same time it is causing some concern with where we are storing these guns and how much time it is taking our department to do the paperwork.”
In the end, it is worth it. The law makes sense and is saving lives.
The early success of that law is why it is so frustrating that another potential life-saver, the Extreme Risk Protection Order, is stalled because one lawmaker doesn’t think it’s worthy of his time and effort.
The law, which would make it easier for relatives to obtain firearms from people deemed a danger to themselves, won’t get an up or down vote thanks to Judiciary Committee chairman Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin County. Kauffman said last week the red flag bill won’t be put on the judiciary committee calendar as long as he’s chairman. Kauffman’s committee did push forward legislation that would punish local municipalities for making gun laws stricter than the state’s.
We agree with Shira Goodman, executive director of the Philadelphia-based gun control group CeaseFire PA who called Kauffman’s block on the bill “outrageous.”
“People get sent to Harrisburg to deal with tough issues. This is a crisis,” she said. “We’re not even going to get a debate or a vote.”
We encourage our Valley representatives — Sen. John Gordner and Reps. Kurt Masser, Lynda Schlegel Culver and Dave Rowe — to pressure Kauffman and put this bill up for a vote.