HARRISBURG – February 20, 2018 – State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today announced legislation providing for the temporary confiscation of firearms from people who show warning signs of violence.
Leach’s new policy would give Pennsylvanians the legal standing to petition a judge to issue a Public Protection Order when they see someone doing something threatening. Once issued, the order would temporarily separate the respondent from their firearms, ensuring that guns are taken away from people before they are able to use their guns to commit acts of violence.
“Frequently, when there are mass shootings, we see stories about how the shooter made threats, posted on social media, and did all kinds of things showing that he was a danger to the community, yet nothing was done to prevent him from shooting innocent people,” Leach said. “My new bill would allow a judge to separate dangerous people from their guns until they get the help they need. We owe it to ourselves, our families and our communities to do this.”
The petitioner would have the burden of showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that words or actions of a respondent create a reasonable belief that the respondent is a danger to the community. The petitioner could meet the burden by direct testimony, letters, social media activity, or other evidence that, considering the totality of the circumstances, establishes a risk of violence.
The respondent would have an opportunity to be heard, the right to counsel, the right to cross-examine witnesses, and the right to present evidence. Should a court confiscate the respondent’s firearms, the respondent could at any time petition the court for their return.
Leach circulated his proposal to his Senate colleagues in the form of a memo. For the next few weeks, all Senators will be able to co-sponsor Leach’s proposal if they wish. Once the co-sponsorship process is complete, Leach will introduce the policy’s language, at which time the proposal will be numbered and assigned to a Senate committee for consideration.
Senator Daylin Leach represents the 17th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Montgomery County and Delaware County. He is also the Democratic Chairperson of the Senate Judiciary Committee. For more information visit www.senatorleach.com/newsroom.