The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) is alarmed by the ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in United States v. Rahimi. The ruling deemed it unconstitutional for a domestic abuser subject to a protective order to be prohibited from possessing firearms, undoing a 30-year federal prohibition. PCADV stands with domestic violence victims, survivors, and service providers in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, who know this opinion unnecessarily emboldens perpetrators with guns, creating life-threatening risk for victims and their families.
Firearms prohibitions for abusers remain in place in Pennsylvania which falls under the U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit. Pennsylvania law codifies the following:
- All Final Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders entered after a hearing MUST require firearms relinquishment.
- Final PFA orders entered by consent and Temporary PFAs MAY require firearms relinquishment.
- Abusers convicted of domestic violence crimes MUST relinquish their firearms.
- Failure to relinquish firearms within 24 hours pursuant to these laws is a 2nd degree misdemeanor.
The United States v. Rahimi ruling sets dangerous precedent and will undoubtedly compromise the safety of victims and survivors of domestic violence and the communities in which they live. This opinion will not change the statistics; when firearms are present in domestic violence situations the risk of fatality increases by 500%. In Pennsylvania alone, for over a decade, more than 50% of domestic violence homicide victims were killed by an abuser with a firearm.
PCADV will continue to prioritize preserving and enhancing firearms protections for survivors in the Commonwealth.