PDAA Support for S.B. 501

March 22, 2018

Dear Chairmen Greenleaf and Leach:

I am writing to express our support for SB 501. We believe this legislation by Senator Killion will help reduce domestic violence fatalities and other serious crimes.

The link between domestic violence and firearms-related crimes is, unfortunately, significant. By way of example, on November 10, 2016, Officer Scott Bashioum of the Canonsburg Police Department was fatally shot responding to a domestic violence call. The abuser also shot and killed his pregnant wife before turning the gun on himself. The following month, on December 30, Trooper Landon Weaver was shot to death while responding to a PFA violation. Just 23 years old, Weaver was a first-year member of the Pennsylvania State Police.

These are just two examples. There are more. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), in 2017, there were 128 officer fatalities nationwide, seven involved responding to a domestic violence incident.

Domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous and deadly calls to which law enforcement officers respond. In fact, NLEOMF confirms that domestic disputes are the number one circumstance for firearms-related officer deaths. For the last ten years, firearms have also been the leading cause of death for victims of domestic violence-related fatalities in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 117 women, men and children lost their lives to domestic violence in Pennsylvania in 2017 alone—66% of these victims were fatally shot.

SB 501 will make a difference. It will strengthen the third-party safekeeping language in the current law by requiring that those against whom there is a final PFA or a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence relinquish their firearms to law enforcement, licensed firearms dealers, or a licensed attorney. Other provisions allow law enforcement to deem surrendered firearms abandoned after one year and provides the ability for law enforcement to retain fees for storage. We thank you for your consideration of our position on SB 501.


John T. Adams