Moms Demand Action Get Some Action In The Keystone State!
Let's take a much-needed break from our regularly scheduled War on Women to announce some good news for a change. The Pennsylvania Senate just passed House Bill 2060 by a 43 to 5 vote. The bill, which sailed through the Pennsylvania House last week, will require people convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse and people with a final protection from abuse (PFA) order to surrender their firearms within 24 hours, either directly to law enforcement or a gun dealer. They used to just have the option of turning their weapons over to friends and family, which is a useful cell phone plan but is idiotic when it comes to protecting victims of domestic violence.
Guess who's being a dick? No, guess. Really, try harder. It's NRA-TV and Dana Loesch!
Moms Demand Action had worked to pass this bill for three years. Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand and who should have her own action figure, detailed the tremendous effort the "gun sense" organization put into this: They hosted five press conferences in September with both Republican and Democrat state legislators, local law enforcement, and an engaged public. They held a "Protect Pennsylvania Families" rally, published a video with volunteers that highlighted all the reasons state residents supported the bill. Perhaps the kicker was the list of "78 Reasons We Can't Wait" featuring 78 testimonials – one for each of the Pennsylvanians who died from domestic gun violence just in 2017.
The NRA, which never met a sensible gun law they didn't oppose, got right to work on the tyranny of lack of due process that is a judge deciding you're a danger to yourself or others. Dana Loesch whined about "extreme risk protection orders" as "red flag laws" that were the first step in taking guns away from dangerous people who spend perfectly good money on them.
"Efirearms"? At least they don't shoot you for typos at NRATV. Anyway, it's really hard to argue against protecting domestic violence victims without looking like a moron. Not that some guys weren't willing to try. Let's see how they did.
Republican Jeff Pyle, who represents a rural district in Pittsburgh (hey, someone has to), objected to the 24-hour requirement with the following absurd "what if": Pyle has a hypothetical neighbor we'll call "Matt." "Let's assume," Pyle said, "his wife goes out and says, 'Matt looked at me funny' and gets a PFA." Sir, I will assume no such thing because women rarely file such frivolous complaints nor are they actually granted. Pyle continued lamenting the fate of make-believe "Matt": "What would happen if [he] couldn't meet the 24-hour deadline?"
Pyle wasn't done yet. He also wondered if someone "frightened of his own tall stature" could get a PFA against him. They can't and you'd kinda think a state legislator would know this. "Abuse" is legally defined in Pennsylvania as "reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury." Someone stalking you is "reasonable." A general aversion to the Pennsylvania Quakers is not.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's charges of sexual assault also has white dudes running scared. Daryl Metcalfe, another Pittsburgh representative, said "accusations can be made" even without evidence. First place, the accusation itself is evidence. Do women need to live with a third "objective" man in the house so people will believe them? Julie Bancroft of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence countered Pyle and Metcalfe's hysteria with logic.
"It's really difficult for women to come forward," Bancroft said. "It's unfair to indicate that because someone is seeking a PFA they're lying. It's really not he-said, she-said."
Or in other words:
Governor Tom Wolf, who is fortunately not a gun lobby sock puppet, announced Wednesday his immediate plans to sign the bill into law.
Huzzahs all around.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He recently fled Seattle, where he did theatre work for Book-It Rep and Cafe Nordo.