Protection from Abuse Orders and Gun Surrender

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jan 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

An Illustrative Case

A recent case against a Greene County district attorney shows how swiftly and surely gun surrender works under Pennsylvania protection from abuse (PFA) orders. An initial news report of the case indicates that the district attorney's wife obtained the PFA order from the local court based on allegations of abuse, including intimidation with guns. The initial report indicates that the PFA was the second such order the wife had obtained during their long-term marriage. The PFA also required the district attorney to pay support for the couple's several children and avoid contact with the wife and children, who had fled the marital home. An updated news report quotes the district attorney as denying the allegations while saying that they are an attempt to destroy his career.

Gun Surrender

Both the initial report and updated report indicate that the PFA order included the standard requirement that the district attorney surrender all firearms. The right to possess firearms can be critical in law enforcement and other roles. Workers in various security fields may own several firearms to carry out their job duties. Indeed, the initial report indicates that the PFA order required the district attorney to relinquish more than a dozen firearms. The wife's allegations that the district attorney had intimidated her with guns and even fired guns around her outside the home would, if true, certainly have supported the PFA order's gun surrender provision.

Authority for Gun Surrender

Gun surrender is a standard PFA provision even when the defendant did not use a gun in any incident justifying the order.Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act clearly authorizes gun surrender under PFA orders. Section 6108(a)(7) is the Act's core gun surrender provision. Section 6108(a)(7) authorizes a PFA order to:

  • prohibit the defendant from acquiring or possessing any firearm for the duration of the order
  • require the defendant to temporarily relinquish any firearms under the defendant's possession or control
  • require the defendant to relinquish any firearm license the defendant may possess
  • require the defendant to relinquish other weapons or ammunition related to an incident of abuse against the plaintiff or the minor children

What Happens to the Guns

Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act will ensure that the district attorney in the above case has a prompt hearing on whether the temporary PFA order should continue and become a permanent order. In the meantime, the sheriff or other local law enforcement agency will hold the surrendered guns. The Act, though, does provide an attractive alternative. Section 6108.3 authorizes the court to order the guns surrendered to a qualified third party in place of law enforcement. Given the right qualifications, that third party may even be the defendant's own firearms dealer or retained attorney.

Get Attorney Help

If you face a PFA proceeding, whether involving gun surrender or not, get the expert attorney help you need for the best outcome. Retain LLF's Pennsylvania PFA Criminal Law Team of the LLF Law Firm for your PFA proceeding, including regarding firearm restrictions and rights. LLF's Criminal Law Team at the LLF Law Firm has the substantial skills and extensive experience, combined with the highest commitment, to aggressively represent those involved in PFA proceedings. Contact the LLF Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or online for a prompt consultation.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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