Domestic Abuse and Gun Violence in the Spotlight at Philadelphia City Council Meeting

Posted by Joseph Lento | Apr 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

In Pennsylvania, victims of domestic abuse have a way to seek protection via a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. Although this option exists, domestic abuse and gun-related domestic abuse are still on the rise in Pennsylvania's capital city. A recent City Council meeting about the issue could lead to changes with the PFA, which would impact both victims seeking protection and those who are served with PFAs.

Domestic Violence Involving Guns Increased in Philadelphia

In a recent meeting, the Philadelphia City Council discussed intimate partner violence involving guns, as this specific type of domestic abuse is increasing to a worrying degree.

Some of the following statistics about domestic abuse and gun violence in Philadelphia prompted City Council to hold a public hearing on the issue:

  • In 2021, 70 of the 562 murders in Philadelphia were women, and some of them resulted from domestic disputes
  • Between 2017 and 2021, domestic assaults increased by 18% in the city. During the same period, domestic assaults with a gun increased by 100%
  • Nationally, homicides involving intimate partners rose by 25% in 2020 compared with 2019

At the public hearing, council members were able to hear suggestions about how to combat gun-fueled violence against women, as well as firsthand accounts from victims of domestic abuse. Several proposals involved reforms to PFAs, which are Pennsylvania's version of restraining orders for domestic partners.

One such recommendation was creating a registry of people who have had their guns confiscated after receiving a PFA, as being served with a PFA requires you to relinquish your weapons or gun permit. Other suggested reforms centered on better implementing PFAs by holding status hearings to ensure a PFA is being enforced and including specific language about firearms on paper PFAs to make the rule clearer.

How Protection From Abuse Orders Help

A PFA is an order signed by a judge that offers protection to someone who may be subject to domestic abuse. PFAs can cover a variety of situations and may force an individual to:

  • Stop abusing, threatening, harassing, or stalking someone
  • Leave the house they share with the victim
  • Stop contacting the victim
  • Relinquish weapons or gun permits
  • Attend a counseling program
  • Grant temporary child custody or spousal support to the victim
  • Reimburse the victim for expenses incurred as a result of the abuse

If someone who has been served with a PFA violates the rules, the victim can call the police and have them arrested. This is the main method of enforcement of PFAs, and in some situations, it may not be enough. The suggestions put forward at the Philadelphia City Council meeting in March would strengthen PFA enforcement, helping to ensure the victim has the protection they require.

Filing for a PFA or defending yourself after having been served a PFA are complicated matters to navigate on your own. Our Family Law Team and the LLF Law Firm can help you get the protection and guidance you need. Contact us by calling 888-535-3686 today.

About the Author

Joseph Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania 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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